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Word waste

Yogi Berra

Judged by today’s linguistic milieu, Yogi Berra’s verbal foibles were not all that uncommon. The words and phrases we hear and read make his malapropisms and redundancies seem like déjà vu all over again.

No help needed

Just a moment ago, my eyes lighted on this sentence in a health newsletter promo: “Resveratrol may help improve mobility in seniors and prevent life-threatening falls …” I ask you: Can you recall hearing or reading that a particular product or phenomenon merely improved something. I can’t. The thing in question always will, or may, help improve whatever is the object or situation under discussion.

What is the difference between, ““Resveratrol may help improve mobility …” and “Resveratrol may


In abundance

Nowadays, it seems as though nothing is ever saturated. It’s always oversaturated. When heavy rains fall, the ground becomes oversaturated. One’s prose is oversaturated with adverbs and adjectives. In some World War II bombing runs, the skies were oversaturated with airplanes. In 100-degree heat, one’s clothes become oversaturated with sweat.

When something is saturated, it’s filled to capacity. There is no room for any more. So it can’t be oversaturated.

Same goes for overexaggerated. Exaggerated means something is overdone. It’s magnified beyond


Over and over

One runs into uses of the over words most often in conversations and reports by network television journalists. Sometimes it seems as though the airwaves are saturated with such redundancies.

Probably the one heard most often, however, is very unique. The word means one of a kind. No comparatives are possible with unique. Something can’t be more unique or less unique than something else. What the person using very unique phrase means is very unusual. And if it’s so unusual that there’s no other like it, it’s unique.

Bored silly

Sinclair Lewis

Whence cometh these overexaggerations – er, exaggerations? Perhaps the answer lies in the ennui that oversaturates – uh, saturates our society. Our attention spans are short; we want drama. It may be why, for example, literary fiction has metamorphosed. Readers want action from the beginning, not reflections such as the one that opens Sinclair Lewis’ 1920 novel Main Street: “ON a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

Awesome, huh dude?

#MainStreet #resveratrol #SinclairLewis #YogiBerra

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