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Bonzer Words!: Get To Go!

...We used to say, 'I hope to go to the football.' Now I hear, 'I hope to get to go...' In the past ten years our language has become cluttered with unnecessary words...

Edel Wignell deplores the tautolgies that weaken the impact of the English language.

Edel writes for Bonzer! magazine. For further good reading visit www.bonzer.org.au

We used to say, 'I hope to go to the football.' Now I hear, 'I hope to get to go...' In the past ten years our language has become cluttered with unnecessary words.

'Up' is a favoured addition: winds 'strengthen up' or 'stiffen up' and rain 'eases up'. Managers 'head up' a team or a company; actors 'act up'. Once we 'dialled' a phone number; now we 'dial up'. Teachers 'prove up' a new literacy program.

Women who work outside their homes have always had to juggle work and family responsibilities. Lately they have had to 'juggle up'. To do this, they have to 'skill up'.

Sometimes there is a second addition as in: James 'met up with' Ann. Is there a difference between meeting a woman and meeting up with her?

During the last two years, this irritation has been noticeable during radio and television broadcasts. Eventually I started a list and added phrases as I heard them.

'In', 'out', 'off' and 'on', also vie for popularity.

Once, at birth a baby weighed, for example, three kilograms. Now it 'weighs in at'. We have always given attention by looking at an item. A few years ago, we 'focussed on it'. Now we 'focus in on' it.

In the past, champion tennis players simply won. Now they 'close out' the match as they 'beat out' their opponents with spectators 'watching on', their numbers being 'calculated out'. Sometimes when sports people are tested for drug use, the results 'test out' positive.

Harking back to the weather: a low pressure never weakens. It 'weakens out' or 'weakens away' and skies can be 'guaranteed of' regular snow reports.

People don't cancel appointments; they 'cancel out'. They don't listen to the radio; they 'listen out' or 'listen out for'. Novelists 'plot out' their stories and lecturers 'broaden out' the discussion on a topic.

If police need to search an area it is 'secured off'. Indian and Pakistani armies on the Kashmir border 'face off against' one another. A house is 'auctioned off'.

Once we signed a contract. Later we 'signed off' a contract. Now, in an ugly contradiction, we 'sign off on'. Politicians quickly learnt this verbiage.

Recently the kids took a day 'off from' school, so we could make a trip. After driving for two hours, we 'stopped off' for coffee and then 'proceeded on'. Later we 'retreated back' from danger.

Letters are 'forwarded on', and we 'progress on' in our endeavours, hoping to 'achieve on' our goals. A ship which went to Townsville to 'load on' stores was delayed when several boxes 'caught on' fire. Once you grabbed a rail to steady yourself on a ship; now you 'grab onto'.

When I was a kid, prisoners were locked in or locked up; now they are 'locked down'. A gate, also, is 'locked down'. Be warned: if you spend too much, your bank balance will 'shrink down'.

In the past, doctors prescribed drugs; now people are 'prescribed with' drugs. This example and some of the above are the result of change from active to passive voice. Many sentences now start with 'There is...' or 'There are...' - a sure sign of passive voice.

We are 'warned in advance' that tickets must be 'prepaid for', and we 'try to endeavour to do' this. Recently a criminal found in Perth was 'extradited back' to Victoria.

If the perpetrators of, 'descending down' and 'ascending up' had learnt Latin, they would know these sound as silly as 'round circle'. Similarly, 'abseiling down' comes from the German ab down and seil rope. How can you down down rope?

We know that English is a growing, dynamic language and mourning change is futile. But I'm sorry for migrants who are keen to learn it, and wonder how they make sense of recent add-ons and verbal diarrhoea.

The English language is rich in strong, precise verbs—a powerhouse for writers and speakers. The recent addition of unnecessary prepositions, tautologies and other verbiage has weakened its impact.

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