Sunday, April 24, 2016

On queue

Geoffrey Pullum has written about Barack Obama’s use of the word queue  with reference to the United Kingdom and the European Union. (Obama has warned that if the UK were to leave, it would be “in the back of the queue” for a trade agreement with the United States. His use of queue has led to speculation that British opponents of leaving the EU have been giving him talking points.) Pullum points out, rightly, that the word queue is familiar enough in American English.

But he doesn’t mention a likely agent of increasing American familiarity with the word: Netflix. Here’s a 2014 piece by Alice Robb about Netflix and queue . Robb also mentions printer queues, which I’d forgotten about. (Waiting for something to print?)

Pullum also points out that “Americans talk about waiting in line, not waiting in a queue or queueing up.” Well, yes. But New Yorkers wait on line. Waiting on line is a New York value.

[Geoffrey Pullum appears in the comments on one of OCA’s most widely read posts, Pullum on Strunk and White.]

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