A World Cup Word

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban

Got your vuvuzela and your tickets yet?
With the 2010 Soccer World Cup just days away, the host cities are dressed in their Sunday best and here in South Africa the excitement is mounting to a fever pitch (sorry – couldn’t resist the pun).
It’s got the word nerds in a bit of a froth, too.
And it’s all because of one little word – stadiums.
The newspapers are wrong, insist the purists. The correct plural form is stadia.
Well, yes, it used to be.
Nowadays, English language newspapers the world over use “stadiums”, as does the BBC. Fowler’s Modern English Usage says it’s the only way to go, and trusty dictionaries like Collins and The Oxford English give it as the first plural option.
Even the “hallowed” Times of London, in its style guide, instructs its reporters and sub-editors to use stadiums.
They also use referendums, forums and memorandums, (although they used to spell connection with an “x”, can you believe, to show it’s derived from the Latin noun connexio and not from the past participle connectus, according to the wonderful Collins Complete Writing Guide).
It’s all to do with modern usage, you see, and with “journalese” – the spoken word written – which has always had slightly differently rules to those we were taught in school.
For more, read my newspaper column on the subject.
And if you love soccer as much as words, take a look at my friend Karen’s lively soccer website  where she’s making beautiful noises about the beautiful game. (Karen also took the pic – top left – of the bound-to-impress Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.)

Don’t forget to check out  The Soggies (see link at right), our just-launched Word Nerds’ annual Stamp Out Gobbledegook awards.
Here’s a likely contender, I reckon:
An unnamed US drug agency officer, interviewed on television:
“… it would allow them to access areas or get exposed to things that are gonna be fatal to their person.”
(Er, do you think he means ‘kill them’?)

If you come across any other beauties, send them my way – (soggies@wordnerds.co.za) And don’t forget to send your grammar queries to me, too, at stevieg@wordnerds.co.za

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This entry was posted by stevieg on Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 9:03 am and is filed under A Passion for Words, General . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Hi,

    Your blog has reached the UK! I am spreading the word to all my friends.
    Good luck 🙂


  2. Loving your blog. However, what is a ‘vuvuzela’? Sounds like an obscure gynaecological condition!! “Oooh – My vuvuzela’s really giving me gip today….!” Ha ha 🙂

    • stevieg says:

      That’s hysterical – thanks for the chuckle. Of course, I forgot that there wouldn’t only be South Africans reading my blog, so my next one will be about that very thing – vuvuzelas, that is, not gynaecological conditions! A vuvuzela is basically a tuneless horn (now made from plastic but believed to have originated from the blowing of kudu horns). When many are blown together they sound like the buzzing of swarms of bees. They have been “officially” sanctioned for use at the 2010 World Cup (by that “master of the universe”, Fifa’s Sepp Blatter). Truth to tell, I have a soft spot for them – though not through the entire match – and they do give the whole thing a truly African flavour. There are as many devotees as critics. We always seem to need something to divide the nation here!

  3. Graig Lavere says:

    And “LOL”, not what I’d title it

    • stevieg says:

      Hi Graig – your reply somehow ended up in my “spam can” and I’ve only just spotted it (sorry for that!). Dare I ask what you would’ve titled it?

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