Buck's English: How to become a former ex-coach

Gene Owens: Redundancy is a common mistake in writing.
BY GENE OWENS, For The Oklahoman Published: December 8, 2013

Benton O'Neal of Ada asked for Buck's thoughts on this headline in the Swayback Daily Kick:

“Former Steelers ex-coach stops by school.”

It dealt with Bill Cowher, former coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who stopped by Moore to conduct a clinic for the Moore Pirates, a team of 11-year-olds selected to appear on a CBS telecast. Cowher is now an analyst for CBS football. Buck's first observation was that the expression “former ... ex-coach was redundantly redundant. Then he read Benton's comment: “If you are a former ex-coach, does that make you a coach again?”

Buck reckons it does, if you read it literally.

But he thinks the writer couldn't make up his mind whether to write “Former Steelers coach” or “Steelers ex-coach.” Either would have been correct. Both were contradictory. Before the writer could decide which version he preferred, his mind was distracted and the redundancy made it into print.

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