FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Idiom and the Idiocy of CNN’s Brooke Baldwin

It’s been a while since I got up on my soapbox but I had a recent heart tune-up and the resultant increase in cerebral blood flow has once again enlivened me.

As a writer, I take a certain amount of liberty with language and syntax and how words look on a page, feel in the mouth, and sound through the ear. That being said, I have a major quibble……no gripe…..no ISSUE with the way public speakers, most vividly newsreaders (and I use that term loosely), and I suppose the writers who dictate the copy for those on air personalities, butcher simple, declarative, English, sentences.

Would it not make sense for the Human Resource departments at CNN, NBC, ABC, and the like to vet, even slightly, their employees ability to construct a sentence without violating the simplest of syntactic rules? Do they even ask them for writing samples? Did they ever have to answer essay questions in school? And who graded these? Teachers? Professors? Where does the freight train of syntax destruction stop?

Brooke Baldwin, CNN, I’m talking to you. If I hear you say “exact same” one more time I just might smash my TV.

I went on a quest to find some back up for my position, ie: the correct phraseology should be exact; same; or exactly THE same but not “exact same”. One of the first sites on “English Language & Usage”, the header being scripted in a vague replica of Olde English fontique, stated:

“Exact same” represents a grammatical practice that is particularly prevalent in American English; the use of an adjective for an adverb. In this phrase “exact” modifies “same” and is functioning as and adverb.”

Anyone want to take a crack at the obvious? A purported “language and usage” site using the phrase “functioning as AND adverb” immediately negates their ability to reinforce any point I may have. They go on to justify the use of “exact same” with a detailed description of two Hugo Boss shirts with differing collar sizes. Really?

There is one word that puts the lie to the use of the sociologically prevalent phrase; redundant. “Exact Same” is redundant hence unnecessary and truly ugly to the ear.

Exactly like “end result”, “basic fundamentals”, and “unexpected surprise” are redundant, so is “exact same”. These Siamese-twinned phrases, and other two word hookups, are saying and meaning exactly the same thing (see how easy that was?).

I realize that, as Americans, we tend to short-cut a lot of things, the great traditions of the English language among the first to feel the pinch of our rush to get through everything we do with the greatest of haste and economy. But if we examine the “exact same” phenomenon closely, we are really missing a perfectly simple and expeditious shortcut. Drop the double-meaning words. Case closed. Mission accomplished. Boring, wordy, language-bloated sentences averted. How very American.

Not to mention that we would all sound a little more civilized and a lot less ignorant in the process. Garner’s Modern American Usage, for example, says “exact same” is merely “a lazy truncation of exactly the same. Although the exact same is acceptable in informal speech, it’s not an expression for polished prose.”

I couldn’t disagree more. (this sentence, readers, is the subject of another column)

Shouldn’t our hired professionals, both the ones who actually ask the questions of world leaders and communicate the import of world issues to us, as well as those who write their copy for them, be held to a greater standard? We would all be elevated by adhering to a slightly better than average format than that which is “good enough for informal speech”. Shouldn’t polished prose be the norm for what we expect of our worldwide news coverage. I would hope that by setting a better example, the rest of the writer’s rooms, and copy editors, and home bloggers around the globe would begin to see, and hear, the difference. Or is all hope gone for the Americanized version of our shared language? Do we, as my mother is fond of saying, come from “the college of that’s good enough”?

No less an authority than Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition) agrees with me. It doesn’t list “exact” as an adverb. It can only be an adjective (or a verb, with a different meaning). The adverb form is “exactly”. So if you take Webster as an authority, you should say, “She was wearing exactly the same outfit” instead of “the exact same outfit”.

Most accountings today reference the “idiomatic” usage of this phrase as justification for its continued prevalence (and their continued lazy use of it) in every day speech. I would say another “idio-“ phrase is more succinct and to the point.

Idiotic.

Robby Sherwin is a writer/photographer who splits his time between Portland, OR and Key West.  His roaming mind bounces off topics from politics to family.  His past and future musings may be found on pdxwiz.wordpress.com

 

 

More articles by:

Robby Sherwin is a writer/photographer who splits his time between Portland, OR and Key West.  His roaming mind bounces off topics from politics to family.  His past and future musings may be found on pdxwiz.wordpress.com

January 24, 2019
David Rosen
Roe: 47 Years and Counting
Joseph Essertier
Warmongering Over Warmbier: US Hypocrisy and a Double Standard on North Korea
Glenn Sacks
L.A. Teachers Strike Dispatch #9: What We Won
M. G. Piety
An Essay on Grief
Karen J. Greenberg
Creating a Global Lost Generation
Jesse Jackson
America Has Lost Its Common Sense
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Rebranding Canada’s Solitary Confinement Policy Doesn’t Change What It Is
Ramzy Baroud
False ‘Victories’: Is the PA Using the ‘State of Palestine’ to Remain in Power?
Binoy Kampmark
Eyeing the White House: the Democratic Field
Russell Mokhiber
Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace
David Swanson
The World Will End in Fire
David Macaray
Celebrity Bullshit
Dean Baker
How Worried Should We be If China’s Growth Rate Slows to 6.4%?
Wim Laven
What Makes America Great?
January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail