Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hoping to podium, despite feeling all Olympic-y

Bob Wolfley, a sports columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, complains about the snowboarding world saying they hope to podium at the Olympics.

And several bloggers have made the same complaint. Even classic descriptivists find the usage grating.

Is this a term just invented by snowboarders stoked at making it to the Olympics? No.

A skier was quoted in the Aspen Times last month saying he had been "hoping to podium." And in March 2004, a skier told the Calgary Herald the same. A cyclist used the phrase in December here. And a motocross rider used in here it in 2004.

From a Washington Post story about swimmer Michael Phelps in June, 2004:
He quickly got the attention of the corporate world, betting that he would podium often in Athens, as one executive put it, and eager to bask in the halo of his fame.
I get it, I get it: As keepers of the language, we must abhor such verbing. And podiuming is worse than even contacting and impacting.

But let's lighten up. I found the California slang of the Flying Tomato and other snowboarders endearing. Most of these guys are kids, after all. I wouldn't endorse the phrase for reporters. But it's exactly the kind of color reporters should look for in quotes.

And that Shaun White, he's full of color. Language Log has a post about his saying he screwed up on his first halfpipe qualifying round because he felt all "Olympic-y."


At 9:43 AM, February 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least these athletes know that a podium is a platform to stand on, rather than calling a lectern a podium, as many journalists do.

John McIntyre

At 1:48 PM, February 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall we verbalise all nouns?

At 2:05 PM, February 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How different is "to medal" from "to podium"?

At 10:23 AM, February 17, 2006, Blogger moonwatcher said...

As Calvin once said, verbing weirds language.


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