How the word ‘Pleonastic’ saved me from a gang assault
If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s basically using more words than you need to, to express the same thing, or when one word makes another one redundant. E.g. ‘A free gift’ or ‘a true fact’.
So anyway, this word perhaps saved my life. It was about five years ago, and my pyscho ex-girlfriend had pissed me off, so I was walking down by the riverside; middle of nowhere at about three in the morning, when all of a sudden, I was surrounded by a group of seven chavs (for anyone who may not know what a ‘chav’ is, it’s like a a violent, troublesome teenager, who wears gold chains and track suits and huge Nike trainers and has his trousers half-way down his ass and spits on the street and swears and shoplifts and attacks strangers with all his friends and knocks up underage girls and binge drinks in fields and all the other disgusting habits you can imagine… Basically, all of the people who were part of the London riots a few months ago). Now, usually you’d imagine that I’d be pretty scared, but at this point in my life, I really didn’t give a shit what happened to me, so when they started making threats and acting tough, I just told them to fuck off.
Here’s where the magic happened. The chav leader (there’s always an alpha male leader, usually which ever one has the most issues with his numerous step-dads) began walking right up to me and said something like “You fink you’re hard, mate? What are you… A fuckin’ stupid idiot or sumfin’?”. One would expect that I’d grovel and apologise and run away, but in my sheer petulant manner, I looked around at them and calmly said “Sorry… Mate… But were I a ‘stupid idiot’, I hardly think I’d be capable of identifying the term ‘stupid idiot’ as being pleonastic.” They looked at me, confusedly, and then started laughing. Not at the very witty joke I had made of course, but rather at the fact that, as they then stated, I “talk like a fuckin’ faggot!”, and then they just sort of ambled to one side and I walked off, listening to them yelling profanities and insults as I did.
So, on behalf of every well-read or verbose Englishman around, I say…
I’m sharing this with all my word-nerd mates. Hope you don’t mind.
I’d be delighted! In fact, they might like this one, which is my word-nerdiest post yet, I believe.
“Dance like a psycho
Sight like nothing on earth
Keep a wide berth from anyone you might know
Show no first night nerves
All first serves! All aces
Straight home bases”
“Sorry… Mate… But were I a ‘stupid idiot’, I hardly think I’d be capable of identifying the term ‘stupid idiot’ as being pleonastic.”
This is a story I heard George Melly tell. When he was confronted with a similar situation, he marched forward towards the men, loudly reciting a surrealist poem which consisted entirely of a series of meaningless syllables. The thugs fled in panic!
I’ve only ever been surrounded once in my life and it was a case of speaking calmly and eloquently that allowed me to carry on my journey unhindered. I did the usual evaluation of my chances of levelling the alpha (the followers are usually cowards who flee at the first sign of trouble) and decided that these teen-aged ignoramuses weren’t worth the hassle.
Congrats though. It made for a good read and will no doubt make a good anecdote amongst more sophisticated company.