All Too Too

Don’t share your PIN number with anyone else. Or your SIN number, for that matter.

Unsure of the best route to your destination? Try our GPS system.

Are your teeth on edge yet? Only if you actively think about the expansion of these acronyms, I guess: personal identification number, social insurance number, and global positioning system. Our all-too-common parlance repeats their respective last words in an irritating but all-too-understandable redundancy.

SIN is a particularly susceptible acronym, I think. Are we going to say, “Don’t share your sin with anyone else” or “Don’t forget your sin” or even “Write your sin here”? Not likely.

I was reminded of redundancy of this sort when the Torpenhow Hill meme came across my screen this week. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is.

Language is, indeed, awesome, but there is no Torpenhow Hill: no Hill Hill Hill Hill.


No, as shown in this video and elsewhere, although there *is* a rise of land near the village of Torpenhow, it is an unnamed topological feature. (I’m guessing the photo in the meme is of a different hill altogether.) Worse, the meaning of the constituent parts of Tor-pen-how is not quite as clear or precise as the meme suggests.

However, fear not: There are lots of lovely double redundancies in place names. My favourites are the places I’ve been; for example:

  • Schuylkill River (PA), since schuykill means “hidden/skulking river” in Dutch
  • Mississippi River (Canada and USA), since mississippi means “big river” in Algonquian
  • Skookumchuck River (WA), since chuck means “river” in Chinook
  • Rio Grande River (USA and Mexico), since rio means “river” in Spanish
  • La Brea Tar Pits (CA), since la brea means “tar pit” in Spanish

There are even a few precious triples, like Mekong River, since mae in Thai is an abbreviation for “river”, while khong is an Austroasiatic word for river.

But the quadruple redundancy appears to elude us still.

I’d say we’re not trying, but given the too-often-negative local effects of excessive tourism in this era of Instagram and SnapFace, maybe it’s better if we let this one go. Instead, feel free to peruse examples that don’t require any travel or intrusion into rural communities where folks, understandably, still have all-too-ready access to shotguns, hunting rifles, and trained dogs.

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10 Responses to All Too Too

  1. Eric J Hrycyk says:

    Thanks for this… redundancy here.


  2. Interesting. I have heard that “water moccasin” is a redundancy, but I cannot find that meaning online, only the possible “puckered” for the way the shoe sole rises to the top vamp in a wavy seam.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Interesting. The only water moccasin I know is the snake. A regional usage, like bunny hug?

      • No, I mean “moccasin” *is* “water snake” in some Indigenous parlance, reportedly. The “water” is supposedly redundant in referring to the snake. But I cannot prove this. We had “black snakes” in Arkansas that swim but are not vipers and merely look like “water moccasins,” which are fairly rare in Ontario but thrive in Michigan and points west.

  3. Tom Watson says:


  4. Mary Gibson says:

    Well, we have one. Barnesmore Gap. Barna is the Gaelic word for gap, or pass. So, Gap Big Gap.

    We also have Barnesbeag Gap. GaplittleGap.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Mary – 🙂 Excellent. There’s room for all sorts of odd things when one language supplants or overlays another, I guess.

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