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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The department of redundancy department

Redundancy is not a good TOEFL speaking/writing strategy.
I think that the problem is cultural, not linguistic in origin. It seems to me that Japanese people are much more emotional in their speech/writing than Americans. Google has 69,000,000 hits for 超びっくりした!Tell me: what is the difference between びっくりした and 超びっくりした? I don't think there is any difference in meaning.

Here are some examples from class:
  1. I hear expressions like "very delicious." But "delicious" already means "very tasty." I hear expressions like "very excellent," even though "excellent" already means "very good."
  2. I also hear expressions like "really fantastic," which is wrong in two ways. One meaning of "fantastic" is "very good." In this case, the expression is redundant. The other meaning of "fantastic" is "unreal" (ファンタジーとか). In this case, "really fantastic" is a contradiction in terms. How can something be "real" and "unreal" at the same time?
  3. Last week, a student made the observation that, "We live in a global world." What does this means? "We live on a spherical planet?" Is there such a thing as a non-global world?
My advice is to limit your emphasis. Speak precisely, not melodramatically. Remember that your audience on TOEFL speaking does not share a common culture with you.

Please use English well.