Thursday, May 17, 2012

Plains Pops: Pleonasms Edition


Mental Floss lists 9 common phrases that are longer than they need to be.  Two strike close to home.  The first will change NFL broadcasters vocabulary forever: "frozen tundra" is redundant.
3. Frozen tundra. “Tundra” comes from the Russian word for Arctic steppes, and tundra is generally characterized by permafrost, frozen subsoil. Technically, there is non-frozen Alpine tundra, so-called from lack of vegetation, not temperature. Still, the vast majority of tundra is frozen. So, whether you’re talking about northern Siberia or poking fun at North Dakotan winters, this phrase is generally redundant.
The second truly breaks my heart; I take great joy telling students that the quiz will cause "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth."  Alas,
4. Gnashing of teeth. This one is a symbol of frustration and suffering. But “to gnash” already means “to grind one’s teeth” and has meant that since the fifteenth century. If the only thing you can gnash is teeth, this little turn of phrase is pitch-perfect pleonasm.

1 comment:

D.E. Bishop said...

"Free gratis." Well, what else is gratis, other than free? For pete's sake!

"And etcetera." Duh?

There's a million of 'em! Thanks. That was fun.