Saturday, 28 September 2013

Who wants to be a millionaire … on the internet?

Who wants to be a millionaire … high-denomination banknotes from pre-war Greece and the 1940s

Patrick Comerford

During this semester, some of my teaching load includes a small module on academic writing and writing skills.

Depending on your disposition or your sense of humour, there are many phrases that you may find are tautological or redundant.

Some of the redundant phrases that amuse me – and many of them speak for themselves – include:

An unintended mistake: as if some mistakes are intended;

The usual custom: as if some events are customary but unusual;

Past history: only Dr Who and other time travellers seem to have the ability to write about or experience any other form of history;

Plan ahead: sometimes I wish my planning had the benefit of hindsight;

Free gift: in my childhood, it seems, free gifts came with every weekly edition of the Beano and the Dandy – years later, as a journalist, I realised there is no such thing as “free lunch” either;

Forever and ever: if forever is forever, who can possibly extend it even further?

A new beginning: as opposed to …an old beginning?

An added bonus … if it’s a bonus, it’s already added, if it’s added, it’s already a bonus, in both cases it’s in addition to something else.

Sudden and Unexpected surprise: had I expected it, there would have been no surprise;

Head Chef: the word chef comes from the French word for head, also used to mean head cook.

Sahara Desert: the Sahara Desert is a repetition because Sahara is derived from an Arabic word for sand or desert, which means Sahara Desert means desert desert.

But there are some other phrases that were once common and that have now become redundant, not for grammatical reasons, but because our lifestyles have changed:

Leafy suburbs: the phrase may have described an unusual but burgeoning phenomenon when planned suburbs were being built, like Bourneville in Birmingham, or with the development of garden cities like Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, inspired by the thinking of Sir Ebenezer Howard. But today it seems all suburbs have tree-lined streets and avenues and open green spaces. Without their leafy lanes, could they be classified as suburbs? But then “greenbelt” may be redundant soon as planners care less and less about preserving and conserving our suburban lungs.

High flyers: In my late teens and my early 20s, I could only afford to travel by ferry between Ireland and England. High flyers paid for expensive flights on Aer Lingus while I travelled on the now-redundant but delightfully-named “mail boat.”

Jet Set: In those days, the jet set probably included film stars, rich shipping magnates like Aristotle Onassis, opera singers like Maria Callas and public figures like Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Ryanair has made het travel accessible to each and every one of – oops, I should have simply said everyone.

A one million drachmai note from mid-20th century Greece

Millionaire: that franchised television show Who wants to be a millionaire? has become irritating. Now it’s like a karaoke machine in many resort hotels. But the question surely depends on the local currency and the era. Who wants to be millionaire in Weimar Germany, pre-war Greece, Romania in the immediate aftermath of Ceausescu or present-day Iran, for example?

One of the least valued currencies in the world today is the Iranian rial. The highest value banknote in Iran is the 100,000 rial note, which is worth €2.99 – in other words, today’s Iranian millionaires only need to have €29.88 in their pockets.

Hopefully, this week’s developments at the United Nations and the initiatives taken by the Iranian President raise the value of Iranian banknotes.

Then again, One day soon, given the way the bankers have treated us throughout Europe, debased our currency and made a mockery of hard-working people, we may all be millionaires.

But today, in the most pleasant of ways, I have become a millionaire – although not in currency. Today, my blog passed the one million reader mark. Each day, this blog has been 800 and 1,200 hits, and one summer day the number of visitors in one day passed 1,500.

The ten most popular postings on this blog are:

1, The Transfiguration: finding meaning in icons and Orthodox spirituality (7 April 2010), 16,789 pageviews.

2, Saturday in Holy Week, Easter Eve (3 April 2010), 6,875 pageviews.

3, All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well (5 September 2008), 4,155 pageviews.

4, The grave of Lazarus (3 April 2010), 4,039 pageviews.

5, Anglican Studies (8.1): The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the emergence of an Anglican Covenant (15 March 2012), 3,648 pageviews.

6, Success or failure? Church of Ireland Overseas Missions (3 March 2008), 2,742 pageviews.

7, Looking at the Transfiguration through icons (23 February 2011), 2,597 pageviews.

8, Nine Lessons and Carols ... a Christmas tradition (30 November 2010), 1,872 pageviews.

9, Christmas poems (11): Christmas by John Betjeman (25 December 2011), 1,748 pageviews.

10, Spirituality for Advent: waiting for Christ in all his majesty (29 November 2010), 1,643 pageviews.

Thank you to all of you as readers. Thank you to all who offer responses and criticisms.

Sometimes, when you press like on the Facebook links to this page, it is more than an added bonus. Sometimes, when you share my postings, you have added to a wider community it is a pleasure to be part of. Sometimes, when you tell me what you think, it comes as an unexpected surprise. Sometimes, when I realise the impact of my posts, I am flying high in the leafy suburb I live in.

Thank you. A million thanks. To you, and you, and you, and you, and you ...

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