Captured Same

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 17 04:29:17 UTC 2010

At 11:34 PM -0400 5/16/10, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
>Just a guess, but in telegraphic language a word such as "it" would be
>dropped (to save words, and thereby money) while "same" would be
>included. Using "same"ensured the message made sense.

And SAW (or SIGHTED) SUB SANK IT would have much less memorable.

>BTW, wasn't the original quote "Sighted Sub Sank Same"?
Probably; I'm sure about the alliteration, but not about the actual
content of the message.


>On 5/16/2010 11:11 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Laurence Horn<laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: Captured Same
>>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 -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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