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From CNN Student News

The following paragraph introduces the size of an asteroid that has just zipped by the Earth.

Now, let's think about the size of this. Because here's the baseball diamond right here. Here's actually the tournament field. If you take a ball of - a big rock and you put it right over the infield, that's how big this asteroid was. Right over the infield of any baseball diamond. Now, you take that, you fly that in between the Earth and the Moon. And you have something going for it. Now, this is not one of the closer ones probably will have this year. But it certainly is 90 percent of the way between the Earth and the Moon, and it's called DX-110. 110 because it's actually the hundred and tenth asteroid that they have found so far this year.

I'm uncertain about what the stressed sentence is trying to express. I guess it is a figurative way to introduce the asteroid. Here is how I interpret each key word.

  1. take: get hold of it in sb's hands
  2. fly: make something fly in the air
  3. go for it: to attack it

So I guess the sentence is trying to say: you hold and fly the asteroid like a kite between the Earth and the Moon. And you have something attack it. Right? I feel it may not right, because I feel a little odd about the interpretation. Can anyone tell me how to interpret it? Thanks.

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+1 - this is a model question for asking about something you found in a news article. –  J.R. Mar 8 at 11:04

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think your second and third assertions are fine.

Your first one is close, but I don't think take in this context has anything to do with somebody taking something with their hands – this asteroid is too big for that! Instead, I think it means to use something as an example. This is listed in Macmillan as Definition 19:

take (v. - trans.) to use something in a discussion : Let's take that last point first.
  • I never throw anything away. Take this car (=use it as an example) – it's very reliable.

In this case, I think the speaker is trying to say:

you take that – that big rock we were just talking about, big enough to cover the infield of a baseball diamond – and you fly it between the Earth and the Moon...

Incidentally, this usage of the word take is leveraged in the famous one-liner often delivered by comedian Henny Youngman:

Take my wife – please.

When listeners hear the comedian say, "Take my wife," they are supposed to think the comedian is starting a longer story, as in, "Take my wife, for example." Instead, after the word please, the audience realizes that the comedian meant, "Please take my wife away!"

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I have seen the usage several times, but "fly" reminds me of "hold something in sb's hand", though it's weird to hold an asteroid. Your definition makes sense. Thank you. –  MarkZar Mar 8 at 12:13

J.R. has given an excellent account of the use of take here, and I agree with him that you have understood fly correctly. The phrase something going for it, however, requires a little more digging.

At the top of your source there is a notice:

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Contemporary TV news presentation, unlike that of fifty years ago, often employs unscripted, improvised language, in order to lend the broadcast more spontaneity and colloquiality. This has two consequences.

  • First, a written version like your source must be transcribed from the live audio, which creates opportunities for mishearing and therefore mistranscription.
  • Second, even highly practised speakers are apt to make the sort of mistakes which always occur in spoken English, because speaking on the fly compels you to use the first words which come to mind; and the time constraints on TV broadcasts prevent them from pausing to think or backing up and correcting verbal mistakes.

If you compare the transcript to the actual broadcast here you find both sorts of error in this paragraph.

  • “Here’s actually the tournament field” is a simple mistranscription: what the speaker says is “Here’s actually Turner field—the home stadium of the Atlanta Braves.

  • “And you have something going for it” is both misheard and mis-spoken. What the speaker actually says is “And you have something going for you”. But for someone to have something going for them means, approximately, “there is something in the current situation which is likely to lead to their success”—a meaning which is clearly out of place here.

    The speaker is in a hurry (he's speaking at 134 words per minute, which approaches the limit for professional voiceover work), and you can clearly hear him “throw away” (de-emphasize and hurry past) this clause. I suspect he intended to say something to the effect of “And you have something you have to watch very closely”, but at the moment he got to this sentence his invention failed him, so he settled for the stock phrase and moved on to his next point.

    It is also possible that what his invention came up with was something like “something you have to worry about”, which he immediately censored—both broadcasters are careful to avoid any suggestion that the situation presented a real danger.


CNN is headquartered in Atlanta, and both Turner Field and the business entity which produces CNN, Turner Broadcasting System, are named after Ted Turner, who founded TBS and used to own the Braves.

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This clears my doubts. The first time I read the quoted passage, it gave me a hard time to imagine from where to where, because of those several here's, so the video really helps. (It's easy to understand once I saw the illus.) When I watched the video the first time, I heard it as And you have something going for. Now ... Without your suggestion, the word you, which was almost entirely reduced, would slip away from my listening. Thank you! –  Damkerng T. Mar 8 at 13:49
    
Your interpretation is remarkably great! –  Lucian Sava Mar 8 at 14:18
    
Admittedly CNN Student News's transcript contains lots of mistakes, some are very obvious. Even with the video, I cannot figure out the reduced "you", maybe I need much more practice. Thank you for your detailed answer. Cannot imagine how many years you've learned to give these excellent answers! –  MarkZar Mar 8 at 14:55
    
@DamkerngT. As you are well aware, I have no facility in reading waveforms - so I have to listen with my tongue :) –  StoneyB Mar 8 at 15:11
    
@MarkZar Don't feel bad that you missed it! I have a relatively good ear but I still missed it when I first heard it, possibly because I was reading along with the transcription. –  snailboat Mar 8 at 15:36

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