Hotly tipped CNN article

A few days ago, Fred Vultee posted about a CNN article in his HEADSUP blog. The article was about a college basketball game between Duke and the University of North Carolina in which Duke star Zion Williamson suffered an injury after his shoe fell apart while he was playing. Here’s the online headline:

cnn.scuppered.2029.0221

The language was a bit off, as Vultee, a copyeditor (subeditor in BrE) turned college professor, noted: “I don’t recall much transitive scuppering from my years of reading American sports pages.” (In 2016 I did report on a rise in U.S. use of the word, though my examples were from coverage of politics, not sports.)

The CNN article went all in on the Britishisms. Vultee supplied an annotated screenshot of the first few paragraphs.

cnn.2019.0221.AmericanEnglish

Of the underlined phrases, I’ve covered”match” (AmE: “game”) and I believe “side” (“team”) as Not One-Off-Sportisms. “Forcing him off” (not underlined by Vultee) also is familiar from soccer/football coverage. But I would guess that “hotly tipped” (“highly touted”) and “local derby” (meaning a game in a regularly played regional rivalry) have never appeared in a U.S. publication.

You’ll note I didn’t write “have never before appeared…” That’s because the CNN article came out of the network’s international division and was written by a staffer named George Ramsay, who appears to be based in England and who almost always writes about rugby. I tweeted Ramsay at @georgeramsay6 to ask whether he was aware that the expressions he used were so unfamiliar in the U.S.–whether he was having a bit of fun–but haven’t heard back from him yet.

5 responses to “Hotly tipped CNN article

  1. It’s sometimes difficult to remember what phrases are not used in the US. I once posted in an online discussion, with mostly US participants, about there being a grass verge a couple of metres wide between the road and the pavement where I leave my wheelie bins on rubbish collection day, and someone asked me if I was trying to get as many Britishims as possible into a sentence.
    A couple of years ago I was on an internal flight in the US and the couple next to me, discovering I was English, asked what I was doing in the US. I replied, without thinking, that I was on holiday. They smiled and repeated “holiday”. I corrected to “vacation”. “It’s alright,” they replied. “We have English friends and they say ‘holiday’ too.”

  2. It’s a British article about an American sport on an International edition of CNN.
    The world’s a big place.

  3. Americans use “side” for “team” naturally, as in: “Well, we were choosing-up sides for soccer, and Fred started crying when neither side wanted him”. Fifty years ago during afternoon recess on a suburban Philadelphia playground, anyway.

    On the other hand, no American would say “tickets … were reportedly available for $3,000,” as it sounds formal and stuffy and, well, British. Surely it would be “tickets were reportedly selling for $3,000.”

    • That’s interesting. True in Westchester County, NY, 50 years ago as well. But that’s the only context I can ever recall “side” being used in U.S. Never for a college or pro team. The corny U.S. elegant variation in those cases for “team” would be “squad” or “club” or “unit” or “crew” (as in Milwaukee Brewers “Brew Crew”). Or sometimes, the number of players in that sport, as in “the Mudville nine” in “Casey at the Bat.” So “eleven” in football.

      • Numbers are used in the UK as well, especially cricket. “A Surrey eleven took on Yorkshire at the Oval.”

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