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We are familiar with the concept of a double-negative, no? Is there a similar term for a "double almost," describing two consecutive modifiers that redundantly state that something is going to be but currently is not?

Here are some examples:

  • "I was beginning to plan to start mowing the lawn."
  • "The process to meet to strategize about potentially implementing the new procedures is underway."
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    "beginning to plan to start mowing the lawn" might be humorously over-specific. "The process to meet to strategize about potentially implementing the new procedures" might be deliberate obfuscation. It depends on why these phrases are used.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 21, 2022 at 12:47
  • I've heard It's too early to take a wait-and-see attitude. Corporate newspeak uses excess words to hedge commitment: CYA. Mar 21, 2022 at 13:00

2 Answers 2

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Generically, these examples are called redundancies (Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics via Wikipedia):

In general, excess information, that is, information expressed more than once and which hence could easily be forgone in some occurrences.

Redundancy in rhetoric can provide further emphasis, including to a point of reversal: at some point someone isn't starting to mow the lawn but procrastinating; at some point the process is not underway but effectively stymied.

I have not heard of a more specific term pertaining only to your examples or the sense of a delayed almost.

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    This is where the 'rules' get in the way. I'd not rate this as more than a 'comment' (OP references redundancy, and could do the research himself). Mar 21, 2022 at 12:31
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"I was beginning to plan to start mowing the lawn."

Try, "I'm just about to start mowing the lawn." This arrangement indicates that the project is about to begin.

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  • They don't mean the same thing. I might have a 30 acre lawn to mow - which bits do I target first. I would need a plan. Starting the mowing would come after the plan. Aug 18, 2022 at 15:49
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    @MathsBarry My lawn is at the back of my mobile home. The OP will have to decide which lawn the answer fits. :)
    – Steve
    Aug 18, 2022 at 15:56

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