Captured Same

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 17 03:11:09 UTC 2010

At 10:43 PM -0400 5/16/10, Neal Whitman wrote:
>In a WWII-era Tom and Jerry cartoon (I think it's called "Yankee Doodle
>Mouse," but I'm too lazy to go downstairs and find the DVD it's on and
>check), at one point Jerry sends a telegram to his commanders to report that
>his mission was accomplished. The wording went something like: "Found enemy
>cat, captured same." I wondered if this was some kind of diction of a bygone
>era, with "same" used where I'd've said "it". But here's a headline from the
>website for Aviation Week, dated Sept. 23, 2008:
>Sighted Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible Drug Runner, Captured Same
>So is this a military thing instead? Why use "same", when "it" (or "him" or
>"her") does the same job in an unstressed pronoun with (regarding telegrams)
>fewer letters?
One of the (real or apocryphal?) military examples that has become
proverbial is the telegrammatic "SAW SUB SANK SAME".  Right up there
with the Caesarean "Veni vidi vici", although Julius saved a few
denarii with his three word wire.


The American Dialect Society -

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