line up in neat phalanxes

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Daisy 99

Member
Chinese
I see a sentence on the Internet: Greek hoplite warrior's line up in a phalanx.
According to this sentence, I write a sentence to describe a scenario: More than 300 people line up in neat phalanxes and walk with vigorous strides.
Is "line up in neat phalanxes" correct grammatically?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That sentence/title contains a basic error (the apostrophe should not be there), and the rest of the Pinterest caption of which it forms part is not well written either. Also, most people will never even have heard of the word phalanx, let alone know what it means. It’s really not something you need to worry about unless you have some specific reason to be interested in this subject.
     

    Daisy 99

    Member
    Chinese
    Do you have any suggestions to improve this sentence?---More than 300 people line up in neat phalanxes and walk with vigorous strides.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have never used the word phalanx in my life, and I’m not sure what it is your sentence is describing. If it refers to a military formation, it’s very strange to use the word “people” rather than e.g. troops.

    I suggest you check the many example sentences provided here: Phalanx | Lexico
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    You cannot line up into a phalanx because a phalanx is a square.

    More than 300 people form into a neat phalanx and walk [you need a better verb] with vigorous strides.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    In Greek antiquity, a phalanx was a single body of troops in one close rectangular or square formation, so close that no matter where a particular soldier was in the formation (except for the last row), the spear of a man in the row behind him would project over his shoulder. You could theoretically have several phalanxes (aka phalanges) in one battle, but they'd have to be independent, separate formations: one phalanx directly in front of the enemy, and another off to one side, for example.
    I would only use the word if I were speaking to someone who knows about Greek military history, and then only if I were talking about military formations or alluding to a military aspect of a crowd.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    We don't use the word "phalanx" in modern English. I don't even know what it means. I just know it is a soldier formation, that was used long ago when soldiers used swords and spears and shields, instead of guns and helmets.

    People cannot "line up in a phalanx". People can "form a phalanx", if those people have shields, swords, and spears.

    Do you have any suggestions to improve this sentence?---More than 300 people line up in neat phalanxes and walk with vigorous strides.
    Suggestion 1: tell us what you want to say. What do you mean by "neat phalanxes"? We can't suggest words until we know the meaning those words will describe.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    We don't use the word "phalanx" in modern English. I don't even know what it means. I just know it is a soldier formation, that was used long ago when soldiers used swords and spears and shields, instead of guns and helmets.

    People cannot "line up in a phalanx". People can "form a phalanx", if those people have shields, swords, and spears.
    'Phalanx' does appear in modern English, as either a technical word pertaining to an ancient military formation or (in a sense different from the original Greek sense) to mean a linear formation or a tight cluster, rather than a specific kind of rectangular military formation:

    "Just before France’s players disappeared into the locker room, once they had spent a few minutes picking out the faces of friends and family amid the sea of fluttering tricolors in the stands, Corinne Diacre called her squad together on the touchline. They gathered around her, arms slung over each other’s shoulders, and crouched down low, craning their necks toward their manager, eager to hear. Photographers hovered around the edges, searching and scouring for a gap, the chance to capture the moment on camera. The phalanx held tight." (New York Times, "Grinding Instead of Gliding, France Takes Another Step," June 12, 2019)

    "Groups that typically have little to do with one another found common cause in drowning out the nine white supremacists who showed up in front of the Montgomery County courthouse and stood behind temporary fences and a phalanx of police officers." (New York Times, "Hate Comes to Dayton, and Dayton Unites Against It," May 25, 2019).

    Also metaphorically:
    "If [Trump's objective in the China trade deal] is to sound tough to American voters, he may well have a winning formula. But if it’s to bring about a substantive change in China’s negotiating posture toward a bilateral trade agreement, one that might usher in changes in China’s trade policy, addressing questions of forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, currency manipulation and a phalanx of other non-tariff barriers, I’m not so sure." (New York Times, op-ed by Kevin Rudd, "Trump Hands China an Easy Win in the Trade War," May 29, 2019).
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    Incidences of the word phalanx:

    Corpus of Contemporary American English: 615
    British National Corpus: 35
    That goes to show something about classical education in the UK: you don't toss around the word phalanx incorrectly.
     
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