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Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury sure has generated quite a lot of controversy. However, one important topic seems to have been overlooked by the Mainstream Media: Wolff (or his editors) consistently use the singular verb form when describing actions taken by 'Jarvanka', Steve Bannon's catchy nickname for the Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump duo. (For example, "Jarvanka was surprised" instead of "Jarvanka were surprised.")

Is this correct? or does Jarvanka take a 'were' as it most certainly is two people?

(Note: IMHO, this is not comparable to plural nouns such as media, because here Jarvanka is (or are) obviously two different distinct persons, unlike media which is merely a collective noun.)

  • It was good enough for Wolff and his editors apparently. Do you say “Toyota is coming out with a new feature” or “Toyota are coming out with a new feature”? – Jim Jan 7 '18 at 19:45
  • @Jim is. But Jarvanka is short for Jared and Ivanka. Its not just a brand name or mere collective noun. Its obvious shorthand for two unique persons. – TheAsh Jan 7 '18 at 19:57
  • "The pair is called Jarvanka" in American English. In British English it might be 'are' – Mitch Jan 7 '18 at 20:02
  • 'Jaravanka was surprised ... ' or 'Jefferson Airplane was surprised to be told that ... ' really stretches formal agreement almost to the ridiculous. It's rare that I wholeheartedly recommend one style choice as being much superior to another, but in most cases I'd not even consider anything other than notional agreement. Note that many in the US use this form of agreement (not necessarily as regularly as many in the UK do), so a 'BrE' tag is misleading. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 7 '18 at 22:18
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    I don't think this is a duplicate of the indicated question at all, nonce couple names like Jarvanka and Brangelina being a special case. I would answer citing both Genesis 2.24 (re man & wife "one flesh") and the following from Congreve's The Way of the World: "somebody moved that, to avoid scandal, there might be one man of the community; upon which motion Witwoud and Petulant were enrolled members" (implying each is but half a man). – Brian Donovan Jan 8 '18 at 15:49
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This type of name is incredibly informal, so I doubt this would be directly addressed in a style guide or grammar book.

"Answer man" Roger Schlueter argues that:

“Couple” is an equally troublesome collective noun, but in the case of “Brangelina” I have to defend our copy desk as being correct — and I have my Associated Press stylebook, a reporter’s usage bible, to back me up. In the AP’s entry on “couple,” it says, “When used in the sense of two people, the word takes plural verbs and pronouns: ‘The couple were married Saturday and left Sunday on their honeymoon.’ In the sense of a single unit, use a singular verb: ‘Each couple was asked to give $10.’”
Brangelina are is correct usage

(The Associated Press stylebook he cites is this one.)

Whether singular or plural is used, in practice, depends on how the writer is currently thinking of the couple: are two people or a single unit (this applies to both "couple" and "Brangelina"). This means that there is variation, even when two authors are saying the exact same thing (note that both authors are American):

  • Brangelina has been an item since 2004, and the couple married in 2014. —Mic.com

  • Though Brangelina have been an item for 12 years, they've only been married for two. –Washington Post

  • I don't think I'll ever be able to find Brangelina has grammatical: there are two people there. Only if discussing the word itself (mention not use) could I understand it in the singular: “Brangelia is preferable to Pilie”. But I’m perfectly willing to consider this a personal affectation or idioᵗsyncrasy of my own, not something the rest of the populace is or even should be afflicted with. – tchrist Jan 7 '18 at 23:50
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Being that it refers to a pair or couple, it is still one couple -- singular. Should there ever be (merciless God) multiple Javankas or whatever, they will be among the four horsemen loosed upon the world.

  • Without a doubt, the end of the world would be nigh. – Karlomanio Jan 24 at 20:31

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