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Archive for September 14th, 2007

is it brand new or just new?

Friday, September 14th, 2007

So there’s a debate of sorts that came up in a story I wrote today. And my meager Google skills (or more likely the fact that I am lazy and tired right now and have to wake up early) have so far not brought me any closer to a definitive answer.

I wrote about a band receiving an anonymous donation which allowed them to purchase a “brand new” truck to haul its trailer. The opening of the story talks about how bad the old van was, and how the boosters had been seeking money enough just to buy a used truck. But, then I talk about how a donor stepped forward and allowed them “to buy a new (insert the model which I can’t remember off the top of my head)” truck. My first draft said a “brand new ….” but I scratched the word brand because it was drilled into my head — by whom I can’t even recall at this point — that brand new was unnecessary. New alone suffices. It’s like saying something is very unique or the first ever. It is or it isn’t unique or the first. It’s either new or it’s not. Simple, right?

An editor called me around 10:30 p.m. to ask about the year of the vehicle. I have to admit, I didn’t get it and at that point, it was too late to try. I do know it was purchased off the dealer lot last week, but I didn’t think to ask the year. Point taken. I know nothing about cars anyway. Apparently without the year and my lack of the word “brand” before new, it throws into question whether the vehicle was new or not. (Or something along those illogical lines. I don’t quite follow it, because I clearly state it was new, so bear with me.)

I got an e-mail from the editor after our conversation: “We used the term brand new because it is not redundant, but has a meaning all its own. Brand new means not just new to the person but actually and indisputably new. Of course having the year would have made that unnecessary.”

I will give you that the year would have cleared it up if it were a 2008 model, but were it a 2007 model, it still could have been used. Second, I don’t think it’s necessary to be “actually and indisputably new.” I think being new is enough. The point is they were just looking for anything better than what they had, and they ended up with a free new $20K+ truck. It either is or it isn’t new. If it wasn’t, I would have qualified it, “new to them” or “used” or one of those other phrases that more aptly sum up the fact that it wasn’t, well, new.

But I digress. At this point, I’m just confused and venting. I am just curious if someone else has thoughts on this? Is it new or brand new, and do you think there’s even a difference? I understand the reasoning for including “brand new” in this story, I suppose. And it’s not like it meant cutting anything else to fit in that word. But I am curious for future purposes, because as I said, I was always taught it was a major don’t. And in a world where tight writing is necessary, I want to know if this is a safe short cut.