Language Hard

Language Log have a couple of posts about the new US Army slogan, “Army Strong“. Geoffrey Pullum, a person rather than an instruction, provides an analysis which seems plausible to me (that the noun is modifying the adjective, an unusual but not unknown situation) but wasn’t my first choice: to me, “the” and “is” have clearly been left out of a sentence designed to convey the simplest message in the most basic way.

If the Hulk thought you were strong, you’d be pretty strong. The first comment on this clip of the advert seems more likely to me, though.

Hulk

3 thoughts on “Language Hard

  1. Ah yes, but which way round do you put the ‘the’ and the ‘is’?

    Or maybe its indicative of the level of debate that the US Army wishes to encourage in its American tax funders?

  2. =] hadn’t given sufficient thought to all the permutations, obviously.

    (Is) (the) Army Strong (?)
    (The) Army (is) Strong
    (The) Army (is) Strong (?)
    or of course –
    Army (is) (teh) Strong

  3. it’s done its job as a slogan then hey? – ambiguous enough to provoke a number of interpretations and thus appeal to the widest possible audience, yet anchored by two clear concepts: military. strength.

    I need italics to buy Pullum’s interpretation.

    i took it to be a pidgin form, akin to he nice, or I teacher. Pidgin, of course, from an anglocentric point of view. the subject+complement (without copula) is a perfectly functional construction in many varieties, e.g. Japanese, African American vernacular (AAVE), and, I suspect, Singlish. Late. Bedtime late.

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