name names

Jiung

Member
Chinese, Taiwan
Hi,

I was reading a English learning book,
and from it I learn a phrase "name names",
and i looked into Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionaryto and it says "name names" means "tell someone in authority the names of people involved in a secret or illegal activity", however, in the book i was reading, it gives a setence with the phrase, which is:

"Without naming names, Mark did it."

I am so confused of this sentence, is it a wrong sentence, or there is an anothering meaning to the phrase "name names"?

Thanks.

Jiung
 
  • titan2

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I think the speaker was speaking ironically, saying one thing but meaning another. For example, "I do not mean to beg, but can I have some money?"
     

    lizzeymac

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Hi
    It is a twisty sentence. ;-)

    The person saying this wants to tell but to keep it a secret that he told.

    It seems to me -

    1 - A person - Bob - has been asked to tell the authorities the name of the person who did something. (I did not say his name)

    Bob answers:

    Without naming names,"
    Bob is willing to tell the authorities but Bob does want anyone to know that he told the authorities.

    Mark did it
    Bob tells the authorities Mark did it.


    It could mean that Bob does not want Mark to know because they are friends.
    OR
    Because Mark's friends would be angry with Bob.
    OR
    Bob will tell in secret but he would not testify in court against Mark,
    And
    If another friend asked Bob if he told the authorities Mark did it, Bob would deny it.

    -
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Jiung said:
    Hi,

    I was reading a English learning book,
    and from it I learn a phrase "name names",
    and i looked into Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionaryto and it says "name names" means "tell someone in authority the names of people involved in a secret or illegal activity", however, in the book i was reading, it gives a setence with the phrase, which is:

    "Without naming names, Mark did it."

    I am so confused of this sentence, is it a wrong sentence, or there is an anothering meaning to the phrase "name names"?

    Thanks.



    Jiung

    The speaker is not speaking to someone in authority. He is probably speaking to a friend or an interested party. He means that he will tell his interlocutor but he will not tell the authorities. "Without naming names" means not telling the authorities.
     

    lizzeymac

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    bartonig:
    The speaker is not speaking to someone in authority. He is probably speaking to a friend or an interested party. He means that he will tell his interlocutor but he will not tell the authorities. "Without naming names" means not telling the authorities.

    Interesting -
    Perhaps there is a less strict meaning in AE than in BE, maybe for historical reasons?

    Here it is used socially - as in "I don't want to to be the bad guy, but" or " don't hold me to my word, but"; and as a "this is not for attribution" warning in journalism or law.

    In America, the phrase "Naming names" is strongly associated with the Anti-Communist hearings in the 1950s - the House Un-American Activities Committee. When subpoenaed to testify, some people named names, some people would not name names, & there were some people who naming no names, named names to the authorities privately in exchange for not having to testify in public & have their lives ruined.
    Transcripts of some of the private testimony was later leaked and the specific sentence "Naming no names, but so-and-so is a Red" was a quote from a Hollywood bigwig.

    In AE usage as far as I know there is no stricture as you describe it.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    "Without naming names" is used to allude to someone. So a name following that phrase is meant to be humorous.
     

    french4beth

    Senior Member
    US-English
    The phrase "without naming names" = "without revealing individuals' identities".
    This could be in different situations, not just with 'authorities' (in my humble opinion). For example, if you were at work, in the middle of a meeting, but didn't want to get someone in trouble, you could say, "There are numerous reasons why the project wasn't completed on time; without naming names, several departments were at fault".
     
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