Welcome to English/Communications 101.
Please take your assigned seat and hand your homework forward.
Let’s face the truth gentle readers … there are EVER so many words in the English language. Think of one of those five-incher, library-sized dictionaries and what do you see? There’s just one word after the other. All of them unique in their own way.
There are simply pounds of words. Piles. Tons. Pails. Thousands. Millions even.
But, do we like to mix it up a bit and make our language a little more interesting?
No. We do not.
There are countless time-worn words bound together giving us so many choices. But, we remain on the same old cow path.
Depending on our direction in life — we tend to choose the same words used in the same old way.
Take journalists for instance. We tend to talk in staccato sentences like we’re reading or writing a newspaper story as a part of our conversation. We use the word “allegedly” to an excess and how about “the subject was unable to be reached at press time.” Or “the victims were not identified pending notification of the next of kin.” Standard stuff.
“The board met on Wednesday and all voted unanimously to reject the proposal for a tax cut.”
“At a previous meeting, the park’s board decided that the fines for dogs defecating in the grass will be $180 per incident. Cats and dogs under 10 pounds will be waived.” Well, OK, that one might be a little more creative.
But, usually, we just plow right straight ahead with a mighty yawn.
“Construction will begin on Main Street and traffic will be detoured.”
“Deer harvest is up during hunting season.”
But, hey! How about those weather prognosticators? They are guilty of the same redundancies — maybe even more. How much can a person say about the weather? It is always the same old schtick.
“There’s a high-pressure cell moving westerly bringing rain and wind.”
Just once in a while couldn’t they predict the possibility of seeing Miss Gulch?
“The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the areas around the rivers and creeks.” Really?
How about the barber? “Take a little off the sides then?” Or the old “want your ears lowered?”
Doctors tend to repeat phrases without a clever turn or twist of phrase. “I think I’d like you to see a specialist.” “We’re going to have to stitch you up and you’ll be fine.” And of course the tried and true “Do you have insurance?”
There are so many words and yet we still tend to choose the same words and even the same way of constructing our verbiage.
There are many phrases that repeated daily and not worth reconstructing because of their simplicity such as phrases like “Paper or plastic?” “You want fries with that?” “Have a nice day.” “I will be your server.”
With all due respect, one of the more cliche phrases is “You have my condolences.” We all say it, but there must be a more poetic way of expressing such deep emotions.
I noticed at press conferences concerning multiple tragedies that the law enforcement officials are always offering “condolences to the friends and family AND the victim.” Sorry, a bit late for comforting the victim in a fatality.
Sports lingo — phew don’t get me started on this one. Teams are always being “hammered” and players are forever being shamed by “no-hitters” or being “slammed or trounced.” Please note that there is almost no other use in the English language for the word “trounce” except for the sports reports.
Trite as it may seem swimmers are forever “making a splash” and track teams are always “taking the fast lane.” Yawn.
How about the chairman presented a report. Or more creatively you could say he or she blathered on forever OR even my personal favorite “He is surely a bloviator.” BLOVIATORS is one of my favorite words and so much more interesting to use.
I like to refer to the elderly as persons of a certain genteel maturity. But, after so many references it also becomes redundant.
Finally, I present these self-contained redundancies such as empty space,
all-time record, current trend, and how about free gift or an added bonus?
An actual fact really is just that and a breakthrough is always a major breakthrough. Past history? Postpone until later? Unexpected surprise? Forever and ever?
My best advice is to just relax and speak as you wish, but once in a while dip into the big book and choose a new word just to keep your listeners “wide awake.”