You Can Say that Again by Marcia Johnston

A Book Review by Crista Mohammed


Marcia Johnston’s You Can Say that Again is a hilarious yet sobering read. Listing common redundancies, the author causes you to contemplate the humor in both the redundancies and your own writing! You wouldn’t believe how I have been second guessing my writing of this review. As a tribute to the author, not really a guise to mask my own sloppy writing (really!), I feel positively compelled to offer a review replete with redundancies. Trust that you will find them as you read my review! Moreover, so delightful is the book that it should be twice complimented! In any event, being redundant comes naturally to me—I am Trinidadian (a people known for hyperbole and super emphasis – reverse back; kill it dead and you sure you sure?).

Ms. Johnston has captured some favorites of mine—ethical obligation (a politician’s go-to phrase when trying to effect sincerity), full satisfaction (so says any sales clerk trying to offload product), and go back and re-read (so instruct I, as I command my students who really, really must read and re-read my instructions).

Beyond preferred favorites, I have learnt many a numerous thing. Who knew that there is such a thing as RAS Syndrome? I myself feel that all scientists and technologists eventually develop this syndrome and if they don’t then their job advancement is uncertain. And the La Brea Tar Pits had me Googling (sorry for making a verb out of a noun), thinking that the reference was referring to the La Brea pitch lake of Trinidad: I found out that there are tar pits around Hancock Park in Los Angeles and that La Brea means “the tar.” Therefore, the La Brea Tar Pits means the the tar tar pits. Could this be a pit of the stuff that you put on your fish?

While redundancy lends a particular color to the spoken word, professional writers (in particular) should guard against redundancy. It does make for curiously funny reading and creates an impression of professional slovenly sloppiness. Whether or not you read You Can Say that Again for pleasure (lovers of language will chuckle at the gems that lie therein), or as an easy-to-read reference to remind yourself of the grave redundancies that lurk and threaten to propagate in your writing, I am sure sure that you will find value in reading and re-reading Marcia Johnston’s You Can Say that Again.

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