This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The THE, a rant.

Look, I know that the phrase hoi polloi is Ancient Greek, and that the hoi means the, and I realise that saying the hoi polloi is technically saying the the masses, but I still maintain that someone who leaves out the the when using the phrase (as in 'eating peas with their forks upside down, like hoi polloi'), as some people have recently begun to do, only reveals them to have little understanding of the illogical glory that is the English language (the al in alkaline, for example, means the, and so does the la in lariat) -

- and to be Grade A pompous dorks, as well.

Just saying.

Phrase Not To Use Today: hoi polloi. The trouble with this phrase is that it implies that the great majority of the people are vulgar, ignorant, and probably unwashed. And that's not only untrue, but unkind, as well...

...except, apparently, in the USA, where hoi polloi seems to be coming to mean the elite.

Unfortunately this makes hoi polloi even less useful as a phrase, as now no one will know whether they're being insulted or flattered, and what's the point of that? 

Hoi polloi is Greek (οἱ πολλοί). It means the many, or the majority.

1 comment:

  1. I quite like the noun hoi polloi. I've heard it used to mean 'the elite', but I don't think I was aware of people dropping the English definite article. Hmm. I don't like the sound of it when 'the' is dropped - it sounds very clumsy.

    However, I think I'm at risk of being hypocritical here, as I do avoid saying Sahara Desert due to the tautology of effectively saying desert desert.