"Would someone be kind enough to give a reasonable explanation as to why we say, for example, "I was on TV", but not "I was on radio."? Why is it necessary to put the article "the" before radio ("I was on the radio."), and not before TV?"
we can make up all the just-so stories we like to "explain" this kind of thing, but the fact is that there is no principled reason for the difference. a nice story, however, would go something like this:
once upon a time, o my best beloved, there was a new technol'gy and it was called radio. But it was also called wireless (you must not forget the wireless, best beloved). when people learned of this radio (are you remembering that it is also called wireless) a great feeling of desire welled up in their hearts and they brought these large, elegant, wooden pieces of furniture with shining knobs, elegant cabinetry and mysterious dials (having, you will remember, best beloved, no wires) into their domiciles.
back at this time when the world was new, few people had infinite-resource-and-sagacity, and the technol'gy by which this large, elegant, wooden piece of furniture with shining knobs, elegant cabinetry and mysterious dials that they had brought into their domiciles (and which you absolutely must not forget was also called a wireless) was dim to them.
it was unlike the other new technol'gy called the "tele-phone", which had a wire (now, you know why you were not to forget the wireless!) connecting it to a physical network. now, best beloved, when the people without infinite-resource-and-sagacity could see the phys'cal network with its wires connecting it to everyone else, they could understand that such was indeed a technol'gy in the very rarified sense of the term, but the wireless (or radio) was merely a box to them. they could see no connection to the other boxes and so, best beloved, they thought that the marvelous voices and sounds they heard coming from this large, elegant, wooden piece of furniture with shining knobs, elegant cabinetry and mysterious dials that they had brought into their domiciles were ONLY on their own large, elegant, wooden piece of furniture with shining knobs, elegant cabinetry and mysterious dials that they had brought into their domiciles. and for this reason they said that the sounds were on 'the' radio: the particular one in their own home. do you see?
but, best beloved, this large, elegant, wooden piece of furniture with shining knobs, elegant cabinetry and mysterious dials that they had brought into their domiciles did not just entertain these people; it educated them so that years later when an even newer technol'gy called the tee vee came into their lives, they had gained infinite-resource-and-sagacity and understood that this new thing was indeed an interconnected rarified technol'gy. and they thought it small and self-centred to imagine that the wonderful pictures it showed them were unique to their personal tee vee set alone.
and this is why, you see, we say merely that things are on tee vee rather than on "the tee vee". and that is the end of that tale.
by the way, people do say "on radio" and "on the tv". here are the counts from the byu corpus of american english for "on tv/radio":
on 18-mar-08, at 8:04 pm, vincent torley wrote:
"If we do not agree to observe basic conventions relating to spelling and punctuation, our posts could easily degenerate to the kind of the mindless, unintelligible drivel that passes for English on some blogs - opinionated, over-emotive, rich in invective, uninformed and uninforming."
vincent seems to have been right: getting rid of majuscules, does lead to a complete degeneration into nonsense. how remarkable!
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