Captured Same

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 17 14:00:08 UTC 2010

At 8:40 AM -0400 5/17/10, Rick Barr wrote:
>Here's Bryan A. Garner (in *Garner's Modern America Usage*):
>"same. [...] As a pronoun. This usage, common exemplified in the
>phrase *acknowledging
>same*, is a primary symptom of legalese. [...] [T]he phrase is rendered
>sometimes with the definite article, sometimes without. [...] Unfortunately,
>the pretentious construction has spread to general writing [...]. [...] In
>fact, when used as a pronoun, *same* is even less precise than *it*
>singular) or *they* (transparently plural). *Same* can be either and is
>therefore often unclear."
>And here's the more latitudinarian MWEU:

Interesting that MWDEU conflates pronominal "same" with "the same";
the two strike me as quite different, with only the former fully
constituting the military/legalistic/jargonesque practice in question
(or a simulacrum of same, which is I suppose what E. B. White was
striving toward with his "joy of life and terror of same").


>On Sun, May 16, 2010 at 10:43 PM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at>wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Neal Whitman <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET>
>>  Subject:      Captured Same
>>  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?
>>  Neal Whitman
>>  Email: nwhitman at
>>  Blog:
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
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