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Pleonasms

When one reaches a certain age, it becomes one’s duty to defend the English language against poor grammar, lazy spelling (Use the Spell Check, will you?), and incorrect pronunciation. This is but a portion of the Duties and Responsibilities of Old Curmudgeons. My late lamented friend Pat had two sentences he used (frequently!) to elicit humorous reactions, to wit: “What’s that on the road ahead?” He changed the punctuation, which altered the sentence’s meaning: “What’s that on the road? A head?” Pat’s favorite was, “Go ahead. Back up.”If you’ve lived in western Pennsylvania, I’m sure you’ve heard someone give this confusing directive. However, redundant word combinations can be heard and read in all parts of the United States of America. Here are a few examples. “Is that your blue-colored scarf?” “Aunt Tillie has regressed back in her physical health.” “In spite of our best efforts, we could not penetrate through the forest of trees.” “We told the doctor we were going to seek other alternatives.” “Mary was cited for speeding too fast.” “The two twins were identical.” “Continuing on, the commentator said the hostages had been evacuated out of the Wall Market store.” “The proposed explosives plant site is in close proximity to the elementary school.” “His writing style is very unique.” “Actually, I would say it’s completely unique.” “Do you mean his writing is totally unique?” “I consider his novels to be more unique than his short stories.” “Subscribe now and receive an absolutely free gift of a yellow number 2 pencil!” “He kept bringing up past history.” “Let me reiterate again: your project is due Thursday.” “Let us return back to those thrilling days of yesteryear.” “The Reverend Mr. Glumph announced that the choir room would be used as a safe haven for refugees.” “Each and every one of the students rose to their feet.” “Instead of making a new beginning in his relationship with Doris, Roger reverted back to his old ways.” “Billy ordered a tuna fish sandwich.” “The vote was totally unanimous.” “I saw it with my own eyes.” “Major donors were admitted to an advance preview of the film.” “Permit me to add an additional word about eating cornmeal mush.” “As an added bonus, Ricky whistled ‘Dixie’ while humming ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic.’” “Dr. Bradford announced he had made a new discovery in the science of toe fungus.” “Little Sally fell down and skinned her knees.” “Coach Fumblemore stated his defensive players had to get back to the basic fundamentals of tackling.” “The water in the kettle was boiling hot.” “How did you do on your SAT test?” “I withdrew $100 from the ATM machine.” “John vacillated back and forth about asking Nora for a date.” “Isabelle is a working mother.” (Readers who don’t think ‘working mother’ is redundant must serve a lengthy time-out with the vacuum cleaner.)

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