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Your Quota for the Month

June 03, 2004

Credit brave Bob Baker, Times staff writer and language lover, for penning a pertinent Page 1 piece of profuse prose the other day perversely pointing out how intensely infested American English has become by all kinds of alliteration -- apt and awkward. Alliteration now is always all over, admit it.

According to bold Baker, alliteration's alighted in politics, media, entertainment, literature, ads, songs, sermons, even casual conversation. Sports? Think Final Four, Frozen Four, Sweet Sixteen, Repeat, ThreePeat, FourPeat. (The Tri-Boro Yankees? No way, Jose! Bronx Bombers? OK.)

Alliteration's attractive, actually, anytime anyone wants anything available for recall. Something about rolling repetition pounds pat phrases into malleable memories. For example, Ford's Focus, Fiesta, Freestar. Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck. Marilyn Monroe. Sesame Street.

Alliteration is especially alive in today's TV-talk times, when people profess increasing impatience over incoming information and eight seconds of one image or voice is incredibly interminable. Ambitious ad authors also aspire to ambush commercial clutter and inspire affluent, acquisitive Americans to ardently admire alliteration and acquire anything -- beers, brats, books, cars, condiments, couches, meds, music, vodka.

Some see such speaking as fake, false, forced, phony. Abundant alliteration is relentless, repetitive, repellent, reprehensible, regrettable. Others see clever connections compelling comprehending minds to meld, aspire, acquire. People ponder patterns particularly, recall repetition remarkably.

Not new. History hints that alliteration also was admired anciently. Recall "Veni, Vidi, Vici." Latin languishes today, tragically. Tippecanoe and Tyler Too. Even educators equate alliteration with knowledge acquisition: Think reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. Consonants, constantly comprehensible, can connote knowledge.

Alert: Alliteration is fun, frequently funny. But alliteration is awfully addictive. Alliterations accumulate until awe and ennui entwine. Can keep readers reading. But enough is, ah, adequate.

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