strung out across a narrow sidewalk

redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
I'm not sure how to describe this kind of pedestrian manner that always gets under most people's skin, especially when it comes up during rush hour.

Some boorish guys were strung out in a line across a narrow sidewalk, walking at the speed of molasses. They were seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were effectively blocking the pathway for other pedestrians, who were forced to slow down behind them ,waiting impatiently for enough room to squeeze past.

Is it idiomatic to say "the guys were strung out in a line across a sidewalk"?
 
  • DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Idiomatic? Yes, in the USA. In the more old-fashioned BE usage I would say that "the yobs were walking abreast (or shoulder-to-shoulder) and blocking the pavement".
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, infuriating, isn't it? Yes, that's perfectly idiomatic, RG. (Though I'd say pavement, of course:))

    (Whenever I see people doing that I say, "Oh look ~ it's The Magnificent XXX", where XXX represents whatever number of people there are. This is based on the iconic photo of The Magnificent Seven blocking a large width of the Wild West:D)
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks~ After paging through a few Google pages, your suggestion "walking abreast" is neater and more common.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Is it idiomatic to say "the guys were strung out in a line across a sidewalk"?
    Yes, 'sidewalk' being US usage. But is it idiomatic to say
    "strung out in a line across a narrow sidewalk"?
    I would say no, because 'strung out in a line' suggests more than two or three people, and implies some space between them (even if not enough to allow others through easily): in which case the sidewalk is not narrow.
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    "I wouldn't in my wildest dreams say that:eek: For me it would be walking side by side."
    I'm not sure that I've ever had occasion to say it, even in my dreams, so I'm not sure how I would phrase it in reality. However, to my mind "walking side by side" suggests just two people, whereas the expression "walking four abreast" is self-explanatory. However, at the same time it does seem rather formal and non-idiomatic.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    You could say 'strung out across the width of the sidewalk'.
    This says the whole walkway is blocked, whether wide or narrow.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Yes, infuriating, isn't it? Yes, that's perfectly idiomatic, RG. (Though I'd say pavement, of course:))

    (Whenever I see people doing that I say, "Oh look ~ it's The Magnificent XXX", where XXX represents whatever number of people there are. This is based on the iconic photo of The Magnificent Seven blocking a large width of the Wild West:D)
    Nice jab at those obnoxious guys.:thumbsup: They have no idea how their boorishness affects the flow of traffic. But for a wimp like me, I'd rather curse in my mind than confront with them.

    You could say 'strung out across the width of the sidewalk'.
    This says the whole walkway is blocked, whether wide or narrow.
    Thanks~ I didn't realize the subtle contradiction between "narrow" and "strung out
    . Is "the line of" unnecessary in "a line of yobs strung out across the width of the sidewalk?"
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Not much difference. In both cases a line is implied.
    Saying 'a line of yobs' as against just 'yobs' would suggest a longer or straighter line.
     
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