Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012
I’m certainly not a simple person. I like to think I’m like a glass of wine…complex, sometimes with a hint of chocolate, and some people can take me or leave me.
Or maybe I just want to think about wine. Whatever.
But when it comes to words, I’m a fairly simple person.
So when we got the following (unedited) email today, it sparked a newsroom discussion.
“Do you realize how often your news reporters use slang such as ya, yep and hey. It is very unprofessional.”
I get that. My response is that television news is not as buttoned-up as it once was. Our job is to get information to the viewer, and to do it in a way that is believable, relatable and most importantly, understandable. And sometimes, that involves a contraction or two.
It’s the definition of simple.
There’s probably no one in this newsroom who is more of a stickler about grammar than I am. At least, I try to be a stickler.
I’ve been known to launch into diatribes about that vs. who, misplaced modifiers, why “is set to” and “in order to” are extraneous phrases (“will” and “to” are shorter and simpler) - and then there’s my well-documented list of Words I Hate.
But this newsletter is a great example of why, sometimes, the rules go out the window.
It’s casual, it’s stream of consciousness, and even (gasp!) contains a fair amount of sentence fragments, as well as an inordinate amount of parentheses.
Slang words and phrases are, in some cases, simpler. And in some cases, they work. In others, not so much.
There are two words that I’ll say as many times as I need to in a script, without worry that there’s too much repetition: fire and said.
In the case of “fire,” it’s one of those rare occasions where it really has no suitable synonym. You’ll see people throw “blaze” in there every so often, but that’s one of those words no on ever really says out loud. Think about it: would you ever say,
“There’s blaze at my neighbor’s house!”
When it comes to “said,” it’s a matter of intent. If you say someone proclaims, or maintains, or alleges or believes or suggests or reveals, the implication is different.
Proclaims makes it sound like there was passion involved.
Maintains makes it sound like the person is reiterating it over and over.
Alleges is a police term that makes it sound sketchy.
Believes calls into questions whether the statement is real.
Suggests makes it sound like a theory.
Reveals makes it sound like you’ve just uncovered something juicy.
But “said?” Said implies only that the words came out of the interview subject’s mouth.
I’m stepping off my grammar soap box for a moment. But don’t fret: I’ll be back.
From Today’s Show:
-Wordplay with the Stars: While we’re talking about wordplay, how about the "Dancing with the Stars" finale last night?
What – you weren’t aware there was wordplay involved?
Shawn Johnson and Melissa Rycroft were waiting for host Tom Bergeron to announce who won. So, predictably, he was drawing it out, creating suspense, and then he said, “Now she has one, too!”
Rycroft hadn’t won the trophy before, Johnson had.
But Rycroft heard it like this: “Now she has won two!”
So at first, she thought Johnson was the winner.
Those crazy homophones will get you every time.
Today’s Distracting Link:
The truest definition of random yet …
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