« This Week in America (Vol. 2, Week 25) | Main | This Week in America (Vol. 2, Week 26, July 4th Edition) »

Comments

Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell

People just don't use the term "hoi polloi" enough in everyday conversation. We need to bring it back.

Jeff Mariotte

I'm sure "hoi polloi" came out of just thinking about Chandler. Scary to think what I might have come up with if I had read some before I wrote the post.

M_eHart

Although technically 'the hoi polloi" is redundant. Because it means "the masses / many / common people." Just sayin'. Although I believe "the hoi polloi" is common usage by ... hoi polloi.

hoi polloi
1837, from Gk. hoi polloi (pl.) "the people," lit. "the many" (pl. of polys). Used in Gk. by Dryden (1668) and Byron (1822), in both cases preceded by the, even though Gk. hoi means "the," a mistake repeated often by subsequent writers, who at least have the excuse of ignorance of Gk.

Jeff Mariotte

I guess that's one of those things I've been using wrong all the years without ever knowing it. Thanks for the clarification.

M_eHart

You can thank Mrs. Kersey. KUHS freshman English FTW!

Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell

Actually, according to the Oxford dictionary (and many others), "the hoi polloi" is considered to be the correct usage in English.

"To those in the know, hoi is the Greek word for the definite article the (nominative masculine plural); the phrase hoi polloi thus translates as ‘the many’. This knowledge has led some traditionalists to insist that hoi polloi should not be used in English with the, since that would be to state the word the twice. Such arguments miss the point: once established in English, expressions such as hoi polloi are treated as a fixed unit and are subject to the rules and conventions of English. Evidence shows that use with 'the' has now become an accepted part of standard English usage."

Jeff Mariotte

 


This is all more complicated than when my English teacher, Thog, explained it. Of course, there weren't any Greeks yet, so that's part of it. I no longer have the cave wall he painted the lesson on, so I guess I'll just refrain from hoi polloiing in the future.

The comments to this entry are closed.