how come it is "grand theft auto" and not "auto grand theft"

fruitninja

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Grand Theft Auto is a name of a video game series. I understand it means " the crime of stealing cars". I assume that an automobile means a car and it adds info to the word theft. So, how come it is not "Auto Grand Theft", or "Grand Auto Theft" ?
 
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emsr2d2

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I have always assumed it's because there are different types of "Grand Theft" (as a crime). The type of theft is then put after the main name.

Grand Theft (Auto)
Grand Theft (Property)

However, as these terms aren't used in BrE, you'll need an AmE speaker to confirm my belief or give you the right answer.
 

GoesStation

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That's correct. The term is in legal English, which doesn't necessarily follow standard rules.
 

Tdol

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It does sound odd in BrE, and the original creators of the game were British I think. They obviously had their eyes on a bigger market.
 

jutfrank

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It does sound odd in BrE, and the original creators of the game were British I think. They obviously had their eyes on a bigger market.

I think it's probably more to do with the fact that the games are set in the States. (With the exception of GTA: London.)
 

andrewg927

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It does sound odd in BrE, and the original creators of the game were British I think. They obviously had their eyes on a bigger market.

Yes. They all are from the U.K. I'm surprised the term isn't used in your country.
 

GoesStation

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Yes. They all are from the U.K. I'm surprised the term isn't used in your country.

The English and American legal systems began diverging in 1776. It's not surprising that their vocabulary has diverged as well.

English Canadian legal terminology can sound odd to American ears, too. People may be charged with "wounding", rather than the American "assault and battery" (or, I believe, the English "gross bodily harm").

French Canadian law is yet another thing, with many of its basics descending from French law - including the Napoleonic Code, even though that was adopted around fifty years after England conquered New France (modern Quebec, essentially).
 

andrewg927

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Ha, interesting, I wouldn't understand a "wounding charge" but I understand "gross bodily harm". It may not be an official term but it is used here as well.
 

probus

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Pseudo-legal language is just one more example of popular misuse of technical jargon. I strongly suspect that the phrase "grand theft auto" is not used in actual US legal jargon. My suspicion is based on several examples of misused technical jargon that I know for certain to be wrong.

Example 1: tarmac. Whenever aviation makes the news, the media always says tarmac when referring to paved areas of an airport other than runways and taxiways. As a licenced pilot for more than 50 years, I can promise you that NOBODY in aviation says tarmac. The paved areas of airports where aircraft are parked is always called "the ramp."

Example 2: heart failure. Whenever someone dies of sudden cardiac arrest, the media always says heart failure. In fact, heart failure has nothing to do with sudden cardiac arrest. It is a particularly miserable way to die in which you slowly drown in your own bodily secretions.

Raymott, if you are out there, back me up.
 
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andrewg927

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andrewg927

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Robert, Probus questioned whether or not the phrase grand theft auto is actual US legal jargon. I would say if lawyers use it and understand it, then it is part of the legal jargon. The term grand theft is used in actual penal codes but auto is just a category.
 

Tdol

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Yes. They all are from the U.K. I'm surprised the term isn't used in your country.

I think we distinguish between theft (small) and robbery (large), though I am not a lawyer. We don't even use the term auto/automobile much. ;-)
 

SoothingDave

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Keep in mind that there are 50 states, so the term "grand theft" is not universal. In my state, for example, it is automatically a "felony of the third degree" if an automobile is stolen. (This category is for items greater than $2000 in value, but any motor vehicle is included regardless of value.)

Because of TV, everyone would recognize what "grand theft auto" means.
 

GoesStation

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I'm not working in aviation so I have no say in the matter but for example 2, people call it heart failure because the heart fails to function properly which leads to cardiac arrest. I'm not a doctor but the term makes sense to me.

"Heart failure" has a specific meaning in medicine. For clarity, it’s best to save the term for that.

I haven't noticed it being widely misused in American media.
 
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