This recent headline in the New York Times caught my eye.

Trigger Warning: Fair citizens of Wilmington Delaware, before I continue, please allow the following clarification. The views of the New York Times regarding your city do not reflect my own. I have never been to Wilmington and have no opinion regarding your city’s degree of obscurity.

Swedish settler and traders founded Wilmington in 1638 and in 1731 the city was incorporated. Given that the founding was only 382 years ago and incorporation a mere 289 years ago, it seems odd to refer to centuries of obscurity. BTW, I’m not going to address in this post the fact that the Lenape were already living there before the Swedes showed up.

A plural noun requires that at minimum two of something exist. In this headline, however, I feel that there is a tacit understanding that more than two 100 year periods are indicated. If this is the case, then the headline would be more precise if worded:

  • Always an obscure municipality …,
  • To date an obscure municipality…,
  • Since its founding an obscure municipality, Wilmington, Joe Biden’s hometown in Delaware, is having a moment.

Linguists, language nerds, and anyone else with an opinion, please leave a comment.

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