Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

2019

 

Dear Readers: Your over and above and far and away  enthusiastic response to last month’s column about redundancies has inspired me to write another one. Here ’tis:

My fellow colleagues and classmates, I am here to tell you the honest truth, not to be confused with the dishonest truth, about the basic fundamentals of (aren’t all fundamentals fundamentally basic?) redundancies. My past experience, which is a lot more reliable than my present or future experience, tells me that overspeak will not go away. The past history of redundancies gives us but a small inkling (can an inkling ever be large?) of the redundancies that will fill our future history. Embedded in the idea of experience and history is the past. Plans and warnings, in contrast, are by definition futuristic, yet every day we hear about future plans, advance warnings and forewarnings.

I do not overexaggerate, much less exaggerate, when I say that the one and only redundancy I most hate with a passion (rather than calmly hating it) is “at this point in time.” Either “at this point” or “at this time” will do just fine, and now is even better. “At this point in time” is the bureaucrat’s way of spelling now by employing 17 letters. This atrocity elicits from this old geezer (I confess that I am no longer a young geezer) an audible (louder than an inaudible) groan, exacerbates all my aches and pains and sets me not just to ranting or to raving, but to ranting and raving. I am not just bound or just determined but bound and determined to stamp out the last vestige, rather than the first vestige, of this classic example of logorrhea and declare it not just null or just void, but null and void. May we not only cease or desist using “at this point in time”; may we cease and desist.

I do not, as I live and breathe, understand the whys and wherefores of many other various and sundry twosomes, in which the two halves (certainly not three or more halves) are for all intents and purposes one and the same and say the exact same thing. Caught betwixt and between such examples of linguistic conspicuous consumption, I shall not hem and haw or slip-slide. Just to pick and choose a few more examples, these hard and fast doublets are anything but fine and dandy, tip top, well and good, hale and hearty and fair and just..

Redundancies are the junk food of our language. Alas and alack, when we gorge on their empty calories, we accumulate adipose tissue in the nooks and crannies of our linguistic waistline in dribs and drabs and bits and pieces — and I challenge you to tell me the differences between alas and alack, a nook and a cranny, a drib and a drab and a bit and a piece. Indeed, in this day and age redundancies are multiplying by fits and starts and leaps and bounds. Rather than aiding and abetting these fattening snacksize doublets, let us find the ways and means to oppose them with all our vim and vigor and might and main. Lo and behold, perhaps one day they will be over and done with and we shall be free and clear of them — in a kind of safe haven (but aren’t all havens by definition safe?)

Can we ever cure ourselves of our addiction to fatty and fattening redundancies that ooze into our parlance over and over and again and again? I hope it won’t come as an unexpected surprise (rather than a surprise you expected) that I believe that we can. As the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Of course, by their very nature adages are old. That’s how they get to be adages.

I’m not a stupid idiot (nor am I a smart idiot) when I tell you that the sum total and end result (about as final as you can get) is that we can join together (more effective than joining apart) to fight the good fight against every single one of these redundancies. We can drive them from our house and home. We can bring them, in the words of many a flight attendant, to a complete stop, which is better than a partial stop.. And we can kill them dead. That would be so incredible it would be unbelievable.