There is a really bad Tex-Mex restaurant in DC called the Austin Grill that my boss would sometimes take the staff to after work. I hated going, partly because I wasn’t fond of spending additional time with my coworkers, but also because the place insulted my intelligence and my taste buds.
As an example, on one visit, the waiter told us about the specials of the day, including something that came with “queso cheese sauce.” I was perplexed. “Is that double cheese sauce?” I asked. “No, it’s queso cheese.” “But queso is cheese,” I said. “It’s Spanish… for cheese.” He didn’t get what I was saying and I realized that continuing this Abbott and Costello farce wasn’t going anywhere.
I thought of this prime example of idiocy when I read about fossils being found in the La Brea tar pits in LA. It wasn’t till I was living in Spain that I realized that this holdover from the time of the dinosaurs is laden with linguistic problems.
- The La — an obvious redundancy, but much like “the hoi polloi” where “hoi” is Greek for “the,” repeated use has trumped syntax
- Brea tar — “brea” is Spanish… for “tar” so here we have another redundancy
What we’re left with is the equivalent of, say, New New York City City. It’s ridiculous.