Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dear NBC:

     Those things that one routinely uses to stop an automobile?  They're brakes.  B-R-A-K-E-S.  Not "breaks."  Despite what you put in the on-screen graphic.*

     Cripes, any more you Bigtime TV people are just phoning it in, waiting for the ax to fall.  Sad.  Or it would be sad if you cared; now it's more like a zombie movie, except without victims: just the undead, shambling about, debasing the language.  And the culture.
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     *Ya wanna know why this happens more and more?  The streamlined, all-electronic newsroom is why: some star-struck low-wager from the sticks hunched over a computer in the dark and echoing newsroom at 30 Rock wrote that copy, the homonym skipped right through whatever minimal spellchecking there was and the graphics software pulled out the lower-third without any other human eyes on it until it hit the screen, live and nationwide.  If it's not right the first time, it won't be right, period.  If they're really sharp -- as sharp goes these days, somewhere in the "bag of wet mice" range -- they'll have fixed it the next time the story rolls around, in a half hour.  Or not, if no one who matters noticed or the script's already loaded.  The advanced student might want to look up something called "ENPS," which is how the Associated Press earns beer money these days.

10 comments:

Sdv1949 said...

Both our local stations suck in this regard. The worst one lately was reporting on the local spelling bee while the chyron read "Speling Bee."

rickn8or said...

Sadly, we gunnies are just as guilty. I don't know how many times I've ground my teeth over "muzzle break."

But then again, most of us are not professional wordsmiths with a vast audience.

Gewehr98 said...

Muzzle BRAKES, too. Dunno how many time I see something referring to a broken muzzle...

Anonymous said...

Why does it have to be someone from the sticks? I grew up deep, deep in flyover country, and we had the best English teacher around.

-Drifter

Anonymous said...

That is a much better informed explanation than what I guessed, which is that some sort of crappy voice-recognition software was involved, such as an early version of Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Here's another example which might amuse you.

Mike James

Jim Dunmyer said...

This drives me crazy, I see it in our local daily newspaper from time to time. Didn't used to EVER happen. <>

Roberta X said...

Drifter: ah, see, there's a kind of algebra of ambition and exploitation at work: a star-struck New Yorker knows what a living wage in the Big City is; a non-star-struck Flyoverite (me, for instance) won't move to the Big City. Nope, for your toilers-in-the-darkness, what you want are kids from the Heartland with their eyes on the stars. You pay 'em in hope and a chance to rub shoulders with (or at least clean up after) Greatness.

The attrition rate is, naturally, horrendous. Somehow, there are always plenty more where those came from. Most of them can't spell, either.

Comrade Misfit said...

The results can be hilarious, if not outright mockable.

markm said...

75% of the people on the internet don't know the difference. You wouldn't expect journalists to have paid more attention in English class than all the other fools out there, would you?

markm said...

Two more thoughts:

I remember back when journalists turned in their typewriters for word processors. It was very obvious when they began using spell checking; malapropisms began appearing frequently. But these were _big_ words that in the old days you wouldn't use unless you were willing to pull out the dictionary and look it up. Obviously, they were trying to type it and then picking something out of the list of suggestions from the spell checker, and their proofreaders were not familiar enough with the word to recognize the mis-use. What I did not see in those early days was mistakes in little words like brake/break; they knew how to spell those, and their editors and proofreaders would catch it if they didn't. Now, it's like they're college-educated semi-literates - even though this is what they majored in! If they can foul this up, what are the chances that they understand the story?

Long ago when I went to engineering school, engineers' alleged lack of communications skills was a running joke. E.g., "I used to cudnt spel enginnier, now I are one." (I might be atypical - my SAT scores were 800 verbal, 790 math - but I'm also rather autistic so knowing grammar and spelling doesn't mean I can communicate.) But I haven't noticed engineers mixing up "brakes" and "breaks". Details like that are important if you want to avoid breaking things...