On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

3rd August 2012 at 01:00

This week: Olympic grammar abuse

It would be a foolhardy magazine that criticised national treasure Rebecca Adlington too harshly. Indeed, by the time you read this she may have defended her 800m freestyle title and become an Olympic champion all over again. A damehood would surely beckon.

But Adlington's post-swim interview on Sunday night, after she had secured a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle, did include something to make English teachers squirm.

"I'm so pleased. I'm so glad I've got a medal at a home Games. Not many people can say that," she said, quite reasonably, before this: "Swimming is one of the hardest sports to medal at."

What was that? To medal? The English language is an evolving thing, and we at TES are generally desperate not to be seen as stick-in-the-muds, but the noun-as-verb abuse is going too far.

It's not just Adlington, by any means. It's happening all over the place. Do a search of "to medal" on Twitter. Thousands of people are at it. It has taken hold. A few years ago, it was noted that an athlete had used podium as a verb, as in "I haven't podiumed". "To medal" is not in the same league as "to podium", but it is a slippery slope. Especially when you've just got out of a swimming pool.

So this week, Olympic grammar abusers, it's off to the naughty step with you.

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