NBC news today had a story about food trucks for dogs. It specialized in treats, very similar in appearance to ice cream sundaes. Lester Holt, the anchor, ended the piece by saying that everyone loves ice cream trucks and it’s good to know that “there’s never one far away.” Hmm think about that. So if I’m in San Francisco, there’s never one far away, like in Miami or New York. Ever? I think he must be mistaken. What he no doubt meant was there’s always one nearby, or, more precisely, there’s always one not far away. That’s not the same thing.
This mistake is an example of the misplaced negative. Some thinks that “never” means the same thing as “always not,” which is generally true when both the “always” the “not” are referring to time. However, here, the “not” refers to something different – distance – not time. This mistake is most commonly made by people who just aren’t very smart. They don’t understand the logic of what they are saying. I have to admit, though, that it sounds right if you aren’t paying close attention. It slipped right by me the first time and I noticed it only because my wife scoffed when he said it. Just because the listener can understand what you mean doesn’t mean that it’s okay. He’s the primary news anchor of a major network, for Pete’s sake. He should be able to use proper grammar and pronounce words right, but then Dan Rather did okay for himself when he couldn’t do either. One hopes that such iconic figures would serve as positive examples for our youth. Fat chance.
On an unrelated note, the local news reporter who came on right after with a breaking story about a shootout on the highway said the police were there looking for gun casings. Hmm, again. I’ve never seen a gun casing. What does it look like? Might you mean shell casings? Then she repeatedly said that one of the cars involved was a Jagwire. Yes, Jagwire, not Jaguar. Sigh.