Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Starting First

I heard a TV talk show host say recently, “I want to talk to all of you but starting first with [John Smith]”. My question is, could we start second with someone? Starting sort of implies first, right?

Language is full of redundancies like this. We simply write this one off as one of the many idiomatic phrases that haunt English, or any language for that matter. How often have you heard (or said) “Let me start first with . . . ?” “ATM machine” is another that bugs me. What do we think the “M” stands for?

2 Responses to “Starting First”

  1. B Johnson Says:

    How do you feel about the use of a translation into English of word in a foreign language in a proper name? For example the Sierra Nevada Mountains?

  2. My Oxford English Says:

    There´s no need to translate proper names into a foreign language, I would say that they loose their “essence” and they could also sound funny. In this sense there´s a Spanish book I recommend to all Spanish/English speakers that is really fun to read. They translate literallly hundreds of proper names and Spanish sayings into English. It´s called “From lost to the River”, which is a Spanish saying translated into English: De perdidos al río that means “there´s nothing to lose”.

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