Ben Cohen

(Only a little bit of linguistics in this one.)

It’s been a few weeks since my last underwear posting (featuring footballer David Beckham), and now it’s time for rugby player Ben Cohen, who’s retired from the game to focus on his StandUp Foundation, which he supports by selling tighty-whities, among other things.

(Hat tip to Henry Mensch, who reported on Facebook that Cohen’s 2012 calendar is now on sale.)

Lots of photos around of a shirtless, usually smiling Ben Cohen. Here’s one posing in his tighty-whities (Cohen’s in the middle) and one lounging in his pajamas:

(Of course, there are also a lot of photos of Cohen on the rugby field.)

The beginning of his Wikipedia entry focuses on his athletic career:

Benjamin Christopher “Ben” Cohen, MBE (born 14 September 1978) is a former England rugby union international. He began his professional career with Northampton Saints in 1996; in 2007 he moved to France to represent Brive before returning to England two years later to join Sale Sharks. In May 2011, Cohen retired from professional rugby, and will focus on The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation he created to combat homophobia and bullying.

The Celebrity Man Crush site (slogan: “It’s not a sexual thing; It’s an admiration thing”) wades in enthusiastically:

OMG! Isn’t UK rugby player Ben Cohen hot?! He was featured on the cover of Out magazine for their annual sports issue. Although he’s totally straight (married with two kids), Ben has been on a mission to tackle bullying and homophobia in sports, inspired in part by the death of his father, killed after he intervened in a bar fight. The gay community needs more people like Ben to make a stand for us! Take a look below for more completely delicious (and shirtless) pictures of Ben. He’s likely the fantasy of many gay men and straight women.

Cohen has never been shy about showing off his assets. He did an eight-page photo spread with Attitude magazine (“hot, huge and hairy” was the cover tease). In the interview, Cohen said he did not think he had that nice of a body, and said he was a “bit chubby.” But others would disagree. In 2008, he honored his gay fans at a special night at a London club.

(Cohen is also significantly hearing-impaired, and works for deaf causes as well as gay ones.)

Now the linguistic point: not … that nice of a body. This is +of EDM (exceptional degree marking), an alternative to the older –of EDM (not … that nice a body). Compact discussion here, where I note that

The wave [of +of EDM] was irrestistible, so that the construction went from being nonstandard to being standard but informal spoken American English (it seems not to have penetrated beyond the U.S., and Canada, but just wait!) to being standard American English, period, hard though that is for some older speakers to accept.

Either the (American) blogger translated what Cohen said into his own +of variety, or the +of variant has established a beachhead in British English, at least among younger speakers like Cohen. Keep your ears open for British examples.

3 Responses to “Ben Cohen”

  1. nick Says:

    It’s certainly used by some younger British speakers (teenagers, early-20s), but I don’t think I’ve yet heard it used by anyone of my age (I’m a few months older than Cohen).

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      It would be nice to get some actual British cites (or Australian/New Zealand cites, if the usage has reached the antipodes). This one (possibly) from Cohen is my first British cite. Meanwhile, it’s so widespread in the U.S. and Canada that I’ve pretty much stopped collecting examples for my files.

  2. Jon Bon Jovi « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] in this series: Mario Lopez here, David Beckham here, Ben Cohen here. Entertainment and […]

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