Friday, August 12, 2005

Say It Again, Sam

A friend wore a T-shirt to a meeting I recently attended that read: "Department of Redundancy Department." It reminded me that redundancy is another characteristic of "Mare Kin," the language we speak instead of English. Though all speakers are apt to be redundant, some are masters of the form. Perhaps no group surpasses television weather persons, however.

"Currently now the present temperature at this hour stands at 93 degrees." And, "There were scattered showers all around up near the Flagstaff area." I also heard one say, "There is a storm watch for the immediate vicinity area."

We regularly hear reporters refer to temperatures forecast for "7:00 A.M. in the morning."

Other broadcasters are also redundant at times. One said on television, "It would be different if the couple co-habits together." Different from if they co-habit apart, I suppose.

Another reporter told viewers "There is a big ol’, huge, semi-trailer truck jack-knifed on I-17 North of Phoenix." Who has seen a semi-trailer truck that was neither big nor huge? Even one that wasn’t "ol’(d)."

One of my favorites was an interview a few years ago with an expert showing a new type of laser gun. He told the reporter and T.V. audience, "If the beam falls on the suspect, he usually gives up or surrenders, for he knows he could be shot or hurt." Given the choice of giving up or surrendering, which would you do to avoid being shot or hurt?

A government official reported that "They [his opponents] are using "phony, dishonest, and false figures." He added in the next sentence that the figures were, "not real and not accurate." I need to think about that.

Today I heard an officer telling a newsman about an accident victim who had "severe damage to the head area."

We could all say about a man, "He is bald." But we are more apt to say, "He is a bald headed guy." I have yet to hear, "He has no hair on his head area."

Redundancy isn’t a new phenomenon with language. Perhaps we just need to perfect the form to make 'Mare Kin redundancy more nearly literary.

Shakespeare, for example, was a master of poetic redundancy. Consider just one example -- this list of statements from Macbeth spoken to his lady after he had killed his king: "Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep’" And then Macbeth lists seven descriptions of the murdered sleep. – "the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast" – Lady Macbeth interrupts his poetic overacting with, "What do you mean?" After seven redundant descriptions!

Redundancies that occur almost spontaneously in our spoken language may be more crowded with irritating examples than are the plays of Shakespeare. You decide. Listen to your own speech and that of others, for you, too, may belong to the department of redundancy department.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4/26/2007 3:48 AM  

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