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November 20, 2009


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Is it possible that in using 'verse' instead of 'versus', LeBron was REDUCING it'?

@Austin: No doubt! (And for those of you who don't know him, Austin is the managing partner of the brilliant Reduced Shakespeare Company: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com )

Austin: Loved your reduced American history when we saw it back in ~1997. Still think of "Grow a penis" when I think of Spiro Agnew. (Much funnier than "Grow a spine" or "Grow a snipe".)

Anyway, no, the reduction hypothesis is not possible. Well, OK, maybe it's possible for LeBron, but not for the people who say "versed" or "versing".

However, in the years since I wrote that post (and the previous one on Agoraphilia that I linked to), I have wondered how "versus" got reinterpreted as "verses" for plural subjects, as in "The Buckeyes versus the Wolverines". All I can guess there is that the reduced vowel between the S's is easy to overlook, so that it really does sound like "The Buckeyes verse the Wolverines."

In response to Nancy, I think "verse/versed/versing" is here to stay, but "versus" will continue on as a preposition alongside its lexical offspring.

Back to Austin: Ohhhh, now I get it! REDUCED!

As an aside, the contest in which U of Washington, um, versus Washington State is known as the Apple Cup.

Thus some fodder for another entry, perhaps: some are Bowls (incl. Rose and Super); some are Cups (including World and Stanley); among the cricketers there are Tests; the boys of summer verse one another for, first, a Pennant, and then a Series; etc.

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