Friday, March 25, 2005

Talk Radio Hard Hit by Rental Car?

In "The Elephants of Style," I discuss how the terms rental car and hard hit have become so ingrained that people use them even in contexts in which car rental and hit hard would be much more natural.

Add talk radio to that list.

Yes, there is a phenomenon called talk radio. But that doesn't mean you have to refer to radio talk shows as talk-radio shows, or to radio talk-show hosts as talk-radio hosts.

(There must be a fancy term for such sancrosanctization of word combinations. Mr. Safire?)

2 comments:

aparker54 said...

A few things to consider, though none seems (or seem) to do the situation justice:
• collocation (see http://www.yaelf.com/rhetoric.shtml)
• fossilized phrase (rather early, though, to be fossilized)
• formulaic epithet (though usually formulaic epithets come about for metrical reasons in oral poetry, etc.)
Good luck,
Not Mr. Safire

sixten said...

This seems akin to what Garner cautions about "set phrases":

"It is wrong to force a set phrase into ungrammatical contexts -- e.g.: 'This was reported to we the people.'"