Terry Gross lost some major respect points for repeated use of the phrase "ATM machine" during this interview tonight. Also for one use of "PIN number." Otherwise, the interview was awesome, and I want the book. Terry Gross though. I don't know if I can still appreciate her in the same way after this transgression.


adamg said...

I hear her show tomorrow is about the HIV virus.

Molly said...

2x said...

I love Terry and can certainly forgive her for making this very common mistake. None of us are perfect (such as in your post of 24Dec07 when you state: "Here's the update of where I'm at so far:" - emphasis mine).

eeka said...

...which is acceptable colloquial English, and which was the phraseology I intended.

I haven't found any usage panels or style guides where anyone's decided it's become acceptable to say "ATM machine." Have you?

2x said...

Hi eeka. First, it's not my intent to come in here and pick on you in any way. My response was meant to be a somewhat lighthearted defense of Terry, but I forgot the requisite smiley faces ;-)

I apologize if my comment came off in any other way.

The phrase where I'm at is a redundancy like continue on. I would argue that neither is acceptable English. They are in common use, yes, but not acceptable English. I would argue that the addition of the word at to this phrase is because people have forgotten that the conjunction I'm actually means I am and where I am is complete and doesn't require the addition of the word at. However, the phrase Here is where I'm is awkward and requires something different. Instead of reverting to Here is where I am, the word at was added. It flows better, but it doesn't make it correct. My point in all of this is that I see the same scenario between here is where I'm at and ATM machine or PIN number. People forget what the acronyms stand for and to them it sounds incomplete, so the clarifying word is added. It's also redundant, but has also become a commonly used phrase which people regurgitate without a second thought, not unlike the use of many idioms.

I just found your page last night and have read very little so far. I don't recall where I saw the link (I think it was on one of the 'overheard in' pages), but the name of your page 'jumped off the page' at me. I literally laughed out loud when I read it. I lived in Boston and the surrounding area during the mid '80s and early '90s and often bicycled or 'bladed over the smoot markings on the bridge.
I like what I've read here so far and will be back for more.

Here's something I discovered last fall, I don't know if you're aware of this. In Google Earth, you can bring up a ruler tool in which you can change the unit of measurement between a number of options. One of those options is, The Smoot!

eeka said...

HEE! I'll have to change my google Earth to smoots. I like to go to the google calculator and do unit conversions such as "one cubic smoot in kegs."

Yes, I'm quite aware of why the phrase is incorrect from a prescriptivist viewpoint, but I'm also aware of several style guides and usage panels that have decided it's acceptable in colloquial usage. "ATM machine" is still just incorrect, as far as I know.