Tag Archives: Semantics

Does My Brain Look Big In This?

21 Jul

I am really rather worried about the state of news and current affairs programs here in Australia.  Not so much the content, as the delivery.  These people are in the business of delivering news in a clear concise manner.  On Saturday night, this just didn’t happen.

An item on one news broadcast about a horse bolting from the mounting yard at Flemington Racecourse here in Melbourne had me in hysterics.  The news reader blithely informed the viewers that the horse “tossed off” the jockey.  Really?  There was no word on the jockey’s condition, but I’m betting he had a smile on his face!  I’d loved to be a fly on the wall at the Steward’s Enquiry for THAT one.

For my American readers who may be a little confused, the expression “tossing off” has been a euphemism for masturbation for at least sixty years.  No excuse for the news copy writer getting it so badly wrong.  Though I can almost forgive him for the laugh he gave me.

I was then informed in an ad break that a current affairs program airing the next day would have an item on how “technology is making us mentally fat”.  Mentally fat?  That has got to be about the most ludicrous manipulation of the English language I have seen in ages.  Not to mention the mental image I had of peering into the mirror muttering “Does my brain look big in this?”

Incidentally, it is apparently spending too long on the internet that is making us mentally fat.  That makes reading my blog the internet equivalent of eating a chocolate bar under the bed covers.  A guilty pleasure. 

The final indignity heaped upon my mother tongue came during a sports news broadcast.  I was informed that a football team “leaded by 9 points”.  Leaded? Leaded? LEADED????  Words failed me at that point and I was gripped with a desire to bang my had against a wall repeatedly.

That is the level of English that you expect from a three year old.  Not from a copy writer on a news broadcast.  Unless it was Bring Your Child To Work Day at the studio, which would be odd for a Saturday anyway.

Am I being a grumpy pedant for actually wanting the news to be delivered in understandable English?  I don’t actually want to have to sit and try and work out what the bloody hell the news reader is on about.  Or what the copy writer is on!

As they used to say in an American TV show…”Just the facts ma’am.”  Preferably delivered in something that resembles good English.

Not too much to ask, is it?

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