Department of Redundancy Department*

Living languages are always a challenge, which is why Latin was once used as the language of education; as a dead language it didn’t change. Well, actually it did. Even with Latin, new words had to be added to describe things that hadn’t existed when Latin was alive. But real living languages are constantly changing with English – or at least American English being a perfect example.

American English has stolen words from almost every other language on the planet – and we’re diligently working to include those rare languages such s the one spoken by the 6 remaining members of the tribe at the source of the Amazon. English stole so many words from the Indians (those in Asia) that they eventually gave up and decided to conduct all their educational efforts in English. The problem is that when we don’t know exactly what a word or phrase means, we inadvertently come up with words that are, upon reflection, just a bit silly.

The prime example is reference to the Rio Grande, which essentially means “Large River.” Often it is described as the Rio Grande River, or Large River River.

However, it’s not always the foreign words that trip us up. The area in which I live is called “Great Bridge” because in the Revolutionary War a battle was fought at the site of the main bridge in the area – the great bridge. Over time, the term came to mean the whole area – not just the bridge itself, so when referring to the actual bridge, it is called the “Great Bridge Bridge.”

To add insult to injury, the Great Bridge Bridge is located about one-quarter mile from where the original Great Bridge Bridge and its famous battle existed.

I guess I should be thankful that the Great Bridge Bridge doesn’t allow people to cross the Rio Grande River River.

* With apologies to the Firesign Theatre

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