Beastly Little Blighters

(“Quirk of Habit”) Which quirky habit annoys you the most, and what quirky habit do you love — in yourself, or others.

Well, firstly, there is no such thing as a quirk of habit. Quirk of fate, yes. Quirk of circumstance, yes. Quirky personality? Quite possibly. Quirk of habit? A quirk is a kind of habit, a habit is a kind of quirk. This is a tautology, like saying habity habit or a quirky quirk, ie:

The saying of the same thing twice over in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g. they arrived one after the other in succession).

Sorry, Michelle W of the mysterious connection to WordPress, with the interesting corkscrewy hair and the black-rimmed glasses; I have always enjoyed your WordPress prompts, but this time you shall be hoist with your own petard (as it were.)

Tautologies do not always march up and smack you in the face with a wet kipper, as they used to say. (In fact wet kipper may itself be a tautology, depending on whether there is, or could conceivably be, such an item as a dry kipper.) Oh no, they are devious Little Blighters. They smarm their way into your sentences, they grovel and slime their way into the spoken word. People caught on camera for vox-pops seem particularly at risk of blighterfestation, I’ve noticed; surprise, and television cameras, seem to neutralise style.

Here are a few examples of tautology, lifted from Your Dictionary website:

I went there personally. (I implies personally; all you need is ‘I went there’ or ‘I went’.)

4g cell phones are a new innovation. (Innovations are by their nature new.)

The evening sunset was beautiful. (Does the sun set at any other time?)

I need a new hot water heater. (If it’s a heater, it will tend to make the water hot.)

Charlie told his mom he made it for her with his own hands. (If he made it, he made it with those.)

My first priority is to lose weight. (Priority encompasses first.)

There is a lot of frozen ice on the road. (If it’s not frozen, it’s not ice.)

I know it’s true because I heard it with my own ears. (What else could you have heard it with?)

She always over-exaggerates. (Exaggerates encompasses that ‘over’.)

In Rome, we saw dilapidated ruins. (A ruin is by its nature dilapidated.)

That is totally and completely ridiculous. (Totally encompasses completely, and vice versa.)

Let’s order a hoagie sandwich. (This one puzzled me. Google to the rescue. Apparently it is a chunky sandwich, similar to a Sub. In which case, no need to specify sandwich when ordering one.)

Alice started her presentation with a short summary. (If summary – is short.)

He is always making predictions about the future. (Predictions – not likely to be about the past.)

The school was in close proximity to the explosion. (Proximity encompasses close.)

The Gobi is a very dry desert. (Really?)

In my opinion, I think he is wrong. (Thinking encompasses your opinion.)

The storm hit at 2 p.m. in the afternoon. (So there’s 2 p.m. in the morning?)

The students will take turns, one after the other. (If they’re taking turns…)

Having a drug test is a necessary requirement for the job. (If it’s a requirement, what is it?)

They hiked to the summit at the top of the mountain. (If it’s the summit, where is it?)

She was a dark-haired brunette. (If she’s dark-haired, what is she?)

The hotel room wasn’t great but it was adequate enough. (Urrrgh! If it’s enough, what is it?)

I loved reading Sam’s autobiography of his own life. (If it’s Sam’s autobiography, what is it about?)

I won’t go on. I can’t remember where I hid the Rennies.

As to the ‘quirk of habit’ I dislike most in myself – probably this same inability to ignore stylistic infelicities: Style-Nazi-ishness. There are so many more important things in life – world peace, animal welfare and, for goodness sake, the meaning of life (42, yes) and yet I just can’t get seem to round the Beastly Little Blighters. Can’t go through them, can’t sidestep them, can’t clamber over them, can’t… Tautologies immobilise me…

dead…

…in my tracks…

…and I just can’t seem to move forward…

(as it were).

6 thoughts on “Beastly Little Blighters

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