Friday, May 30, 2008

Dude! They Pay You To Speak.

So, I'm sure you've all heard we had another construction crane collapse in Manhattan this morning. Now I realize the guys on the radio are accustomed to just reading prepared news scripts, but breaking news happens now and then and when it does, it would be nice if they had a teensy-tinesy command of the English language.

Here are a couple of tips.

Tip #1: When something has been completely destroyed, it has not been decimated.

Tip #2: There is no such thing as a mute point. (If you want to get technical, I suppose you could use that to refer to a point that remains unvoiced, but I'm not sure how useful that would be.) On the other hand, when you say "It seems to be a mute point to be talking about traffic when we still don't know about fatalities"... well, that wouldn't mean anything even if you had used the right word.

16 comments:

Shawn Powers said...

I'd argue common usage of "decimated" would allow for such a claim.

But the "mute" point thing annoys the crap out of me.

Nathan said...

Sorry, but I don't buy the "common usage" argument for decimated. It very specifically means 10 percent destroyed. An etymology dictionary cites usage since 1663 to mean "destroy a large portion of", but not even that is "totally" destroyed.

Michelle K said...

Can we make Bush have a mute point?

Shawn Powers said...

I'm sure there are significant bits and pieces of the crane still intact. Likely more than 10 percent was destroyed, but the more current "large portion of"definition I think makes the crane indeed a product of decimation.

Don't make me decimate you. There'd be nothing left but a few whole bits so as not to veer from the definition.

Oooo! I could be a new serial killer called the, "Webster Whacker".

"Actually, officer, the victim wasn't decapitated. If you look, there is a tiny bit of connecting tissue still attached."

(hehehe, I'm in a cantankerous mood today...)

Kate said...

*inserts mute point*

.

Eric said...

Am I missing something? You guys do all know that the speakers are mispronouncing the phrase "moot point" and are just making fun, right?

Michelle K said...

Eric,

I dunno about your accent, but mute and moot sound totally different to me.

If someone who's paid to, like speak, can't differentiate them, they've got some problems.

Shawn Powers said...

You might say they decimated the English language.

:D

Nathan said...

You might say they decimated the English language.

Actually, I think they've just defenestrated it.

Michelle K said...

If we defenestrated them for continuing to decimate the language in such a manner, it would be moot point.

Eric said...

In my defense, let me be definite that sometimes the internet doesn't devote itself to demonstrations of sarcasm. "Moot" and "mute" should sound different, but (as we all know) New Yorkers talk funny.

(I kid! I kid!)

(Alas, on a personal note, I've long suffered a weird hybrid of a nice, proper Southern accent--I grew up and live in North Carolina--and an acceptable, inoffensive Mid-Atlantic accent I picked up from my Maryland-born parents. For many years I've had Southerners say I sounded Northern and "Northerners" say I sounded "Southern," but I think I've finally shaken the damn Voice From Elsewhere and developed a tolerably euphonious twang and drawl to suit the land of my birth.)

Nathan said...

I don't think I have any discernable accent any more, but when the plane passes over Maryland, my drawl starts to show up again.

Steve Buchheit said...

Eric, I grew up in Southern Jersey, NYers have an accent.

I do have a problem speaking some words, which relates to having hearing problems when I was young (and now hearing loss as an adult, although that was mostly to the rock 'n roll). Also, from living in various parts of the US I have some strange ticks, and my sense of humor has lead me to irreversibly transpose some words But I don't get paid for it.

On our local NPR station they have a new (well, he's been doing it for the past year now) local news announcer. He still gets screwed up. I want to call up and say, "write the damn thing out, and PRACTICE at least once before going on."

Nathan said...

One of the women who does promos on NPR here has this weird delivery that makes her sound like a computer generated voice. When she plugs their website, the "dot com" part sounds like the 't' is attached to the 'com'.

Tania said...

I love how Doyle Redland of The Onion's Radio News pronounces "robot". Makes us laugh every time.

Tania said...

I have an innocuous west coast USA accent, with a bit of Canada and Dixie thrown in on some words.