M. J. Maddox, PhD is the American English Doctor.  
 

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“A Busted Gas Pipe”

Justin Long as Dr. Lexus, a physician of limited vocabulary in the movie Idiocracy

Justin Long as Dr. Lexus, a physician of limited vocabulary in the movie Idiocracy

The local TV anchorman was reporting on an incident during which a pre-school was closed briefly during the day. He informed viewers that “a busted gas pipe” was the cause for which the school “had to evacuate the kids.”

I know that the word bust is colloquial for burst or broken, but it seems to me that in a formal context, such as giving the news on television, the words “bust” and “busted” are out of place as synonyms for “broken” or “arrested.”

The same goes for “kids.” This is another word that always strikes me as out of place in a serious context. For example: “A refugee and his two kids were shot at the check point.” In certain situations, child and children are more respectful choices than “kid” and “kids.”

Whenever I hear news announcers using slang and colloquialisms to report the news, I think of the Luke Wilson movie Idiocracy, a dystopic movie in which no one, not even the doctors, have much of an education.

Bust, Burst, and Arrest

I Hate “Kids”

4 comments to “A Busted Gas Pipe”

  • Evelyn,
    Glad to have you! I can see that your sense of humor is going to liven things up around here. The double entendre of “evacuate” hadn’t occurred to me.

  • Denton,
    I agree that oral speech is going to differ from written, and I would not be so critical of a reporter in the field who is covering a plane crash or a shooting without a script in front of him. An anchor in the studio, however, reads from a monitor. No excuse for a busted pipe.

    Btw, it’s you I can thank for introducing me to what is one of my favorite dystopic movies ever. I think Idiocracy is far scarier than something like Terminator because so much of it has already come to pass!

  • Agreed. There is a time and a place for using words in their proper form and their more relaxed forms. I wouldn’t tell my cousin to “kindly pick up the children today.” I would just say, “Eh, go get the kids.” It’s all about context, your audience, etc.

    I did have to giggle — even though I get your point, and agree with it, when I first started reading I thought you were going after something else. I’ve seen so many people going after the meaning of sentences based on word placement. “Evacuate the kids.” Give them Exlax? That is seriously where I thought you were going! OMG!

    Point well taken and I really do like you, by the way. That’s why I subscribed to your blog several days ago — so I can come and terrorize you. 🙂 I’m kidding! Oh, I’m joking… er, I say this in jest. Oh dear! Have a great weekend!

  • I’ve noticed that one flaw in our public school system (long ago – not sure about the present) that has affected me is that most testing and evaluating knowledge occurs on paper. Therefore, I do not pay attention to the grammar, etc. when speaking. Many times I speak in ways that I would never write. For example, I’ve said something like “he don’t pay attention” when I shudder to see it in print.

    That might also explain why the announcer uses a word like “busted” even though he or she likely has a college education.

    There is much “idiocracy” out there and even more disturbing is the lack of intelligent thought.

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