Collectively speaking with humor about the economy



In listening to the Hockey Media, when they refer to a team like the Nashville Predators, they will say something like "Nashville are a good defensive team." I contend this is correct English. Julie says it should be "Nashville is a good defensive team." We have decided we need a professional opinion. Thank you!

-Experienced Teacher

Collective nouns are a hard call. So I’ll call them a bit later on down the pike, so to speak.  On down the column.

January, often forgotten as the obvious month of new starts, (no matter how we suddenly resolve to quit smoking, overeating, swearing, beating family members, and then resolve to do something innocuous like write in our diaries daily and plant vegetables in three months) is really the month of (age separates you here) (1.) delight in new toys and making plans for even more new toys (children and older male adults); (2) profound anguish over money spent buying new toys disguised by pretending the weather is depressing (adults, male and female); (3) ecstasy from engagement ring snared at Christmas (young females of proper age, though obtaining costly jewelry can expand this group into all adult females, even those married).

So, to amuse group (2.) above, and to remind us that, yes, misery loves company, and dark times (it’s winter, you’re broke) breed dark humor, here’s ONLINE DEPARTMENT. “The economy is so bad that…” (Thanks, LD) The economy is so bad that  I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail. • I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked, “Can you afford fries with that?”• CEO's are now playing miniature golf. • If the bank returns your check marked  “Insufficient Funds,” you call them and ask if they meant you or them.• Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM. •  McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer. • Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names. • A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico. • Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting. • Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore. • The Mafia is laying off judges. • Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen. • Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh, great! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear! • And, finally -- I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc.,  I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

A PEEK AT THE PAST. Remember the last month’s column on change in usage?  (“Ask Anne,” 12/16/2009). Bryan A. Garner offers advice to those who are bewildered by changes: “For the traditionalist, perhaps the most sensible course is to prefer the traditional usage in your own writing, to adhere to it when editing or correcting others’ work, but not to despair unduly as the age-old preference continues eroding.” (from “Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day,” 12/18/2009.  Thanks, CD) Bryan Garner is the award-winning author or editor of more than 20 books and a prolific lecturer, having taught more than 2,500 writing workshops since the 1991 founding of his company, LawProse, Inc.

Today’s question involves collective nouns. They’re common singular nouns referring to groups (group itself is a collective noun) – something made up of members. The catch is, are the members acting together (takes a singular verb) or individually (takes a plural verb)? EXAMPLE USING CHOIR. (singular, a unified action of all) The choir sings especially well after rehearsal. (plural, each member doing this individually) The choir were struggling out of their robes when the alarm sounded. 

Don’t think too much about this; you’ll think your way out of a conclusion. 

To answer QP of T (Question Person of Today) I'll say Nashville are, with Nashville being a clear shortened version of Nashville Predators, is preferred. Plus, Nashville, is a collective noun with the defense acting as individuals, making  Nashville plural. It jars the ear, but it's correct.

BW (Bigtime Words) floccillation – delirious picking at bedclothes by feverish patients. This is attempted by perfectly healthy school children through high school age, and this is the top season for these attempts. Parents, be warned.