usingtherightwords

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Captions Capture Mistake


I love closed captions. I’m getting older and my hearing isn’t getting better, so captions ensure I catch every word — and every mistake the caption writers make.

Like this one I saw recently on an episode of “Criminal Minds:” As the scene played out, sans dialogue, music washed across my ears. It was pleasant, too, until I saw the caption.

It said instrumental music.

Redundant, I thought, for instrumental means “relating to, composed for, or performed on a musical instrument.” And what does a musical instrument make? Music, of course.

Unless the player doesn’t know how to play the instrument. Then it’s noise.

Until next time! Use the right words!

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leebarnathan.com

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February 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

“Nice” Isn’t as Nice as I Thought


Just when I think I really know a word, along comes a TV show to correct me.

In this case, it’s the first episode of the eight season of “Criminal Minds,” in which Dr. Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn) says the origin of the word nice is 12th century Middle English meaning “foolish” or “stupid.” She then acknowledges the more modern use of the adjective, which means “pleasing” and “agreeable.”

So, of course, I had to look it up for myself. My dictionary says the word indeed derived from Middle English but lists the 14th century instead of the 12th. The meaning “foolish,” appears in my dictionary, but instead of “stupid,” it lists “wanton” as another meaning. Wanton in the 14th century meant “hard to control, undisciplined, unruly” (today, it usually refers to “having no just foundation or provocation; malicious”).

But there were so many other definitions of nice I did not know existed, many of which have different connotations: “showing finicky tastes,” “exacting in requirements or standards,” “possessing, marked by,or demanding greater excessive definition and delicacy,” “trivial,” “most inappropriate” and “well-executed.”

In other words, not always as nice as I thought. How nice.

Props to Erica Messer, the episode’s writer.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting an Idea from “Criminal Minds”


As I’ve written before, I enjoy the CBS drama “Criminal Minds.” My wife says that she can watch numerous episodes of this disturbing show and go to sleep with no problem, but “The Walking Dead” gives her nightmares.

But I digress.

Lately, I’ve been watching episodes in which people are abducted. This made me wonder if there was a difference between abduction and kidnapping.

So, I looked up the words. Abduct means “to carry off (as a person) by force.” Abduction also means “the unlawful carrying away of a woman for marriage or intercourse,” which I find a bit antiquated and couldn’t easily find on online dictionaries. I’m not sure that definition still holds.

Kidnap, meanwhile, means “to seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom.”

Clearly, there is a difference. Abduct deals with the action of forcibly taking someone; kidnap deals with much more to include the holding of a person against his/her will.

Neither are nice, and I hope no one has to suffer through such horrible acts.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

April 8, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Half-Mast, Half-Staff, Half-Cocked


When I was younger, there was a place called the Museum of Television & Radio in which I could watch old TV shows. It was like an amusement park to me — but much less expensive. I wiled away hours watching cartoons, pilots and finales.

The place is now called the Paley Center for Media, but I don’t go anymore. I have Netflix.

Now, I can watch all the TV shows I want. The current one my wife and I are enjoying is “Criminal Minds.” We’re only in Season 2, so Mandy Patinkin hasn’t been replaced by Joe Mantegna yet. My wife’s favorite character is Dr. Spencer Reid, portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler. He reminds me of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) from “The Big Bang Theory” but with less humor.

In one episode, characters are talking about flying a flag at half-mast to honor a dead officer, when Reid interrupts and corrects them, saying it’s half-staff. Half-mast is reserved for ships.

When I was a kid, flag were always flown at half-mast, so I wondered who was right.

My research concluded that a fictional character was correct. In this country, it’s half-staff when flying over non-nautical things. Many countries still use the term half-mast when we would use half-staff.

Let’s not go off half-cocked on this matter.

Until next time! Use the right words!
leebarnathan.com

January 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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