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Redundant expressions peeve me

Redundant expressions peeve me

By James H. Choi
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“I love you for sentimental reasons” is the title of a beautiful song from a bygone era, the 1920s.

But, whenever I hear it, I wonder what other reasons are there to love someone: Financial?  Social?  Psychological?  I don’t know.  But I find it disturbing that the lyricist specified the reasons.

In general, tautological redundancies bother me a great deal.  Apparently I am not the only one.  Once while visiting Brazil, my friend and I drove down a highway from São Paulo to Santos, which was displaying a sign:

This highway is monitored by electronic radar.

“What other type of radar exist?” I immediately asked my friend as soon as I saw the sign.

Before my friend could answer, his wife jumped in.

“You know, James,” she excited exclaimed pointing at my friend, “he asked the same question the first time he passed the sign!  And he got pretty upset about it, too.  Like you!”

It must have amused her to see two men getting upset in the identical manner at the same high way sign, just because of its redundant expression.

I guess it runs among friends.  But seriously, are there biological radars?  Chemical radars?  Why specify electric ones?  Redundant expressions peeve me.
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6378458/Column/Info/English/SpecialEvents.gifMaybe you don’t understand why I am so worked up about “sentimental reasons” and “electronic radar.”  See if the following example does not bother you.

“His female mother verbally told him that there would be a musical orchestra playing Asian Chinese music that night after dark.”

It bothered you, right?

Catching this type of redundancies and contractions (“Believing superstitions brings bad luck”) is a sign that you are actually understanding the sentence.  Those who are oblivious to these details are also the ones who score low in the reading comprehension tests.  See if you can find what’s wrong with this one: “Virtue is my strongest virtue.”

Overall, being alert to redundancies, oxymoron, tautologies is a sign that you are actually understanding the meaning of the sentences you hear.  It is also a great way to increase your body’s stress hormone level, raise blood pressure, and trigger other biological reactions that shorten life.  Just great.

My students, can you think of any other redundant, and/or tautological sentences you saw that would drive me up the wall?  Feel free to post below actual (the ones you saw) or creative (the ones you made up) examples.  Let’s see who manages to peeve me the most.


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