Is It Really Necessary To Specify The Length Of The Pier Or The Walk?

I was just thinking about that old phrase “take a long walk off a short pier.” I get the gist, “go away.” The idea is that you’ll walk off the pier and drown (metaphorically) or something. However, is it really necessary to specify that the walk is long or that the pier is short? Doesn’t the “off” part convey everything?

I think the other words are redundant.

After all, if you walk “off” the pier, you’ve already gone into the water. The walk was clearly long enough and the pier clearly short enough, since the word “off” is involved. Lengthening the walk or shortening the pier beyond that would just change how far out into the water the person got.

Does that even matter?

Why not just “take a walk off a pier?”

Perhaps a boat is at the end of the pier. Perhaps a big cruise ship and the person is supposed to keep walking once on board, get as far away as possible. That somehow doesn’t seem as insulting as telling them to walk off into the water though, potentially drowning or some such thing.

“Take a long walk on a short pier” would at least make a little more sense to have length modifiers. After all, without “off” one might actually have to specify that the walk goes off the pier. “Long” for the walk and “short” for the pier would function to take care of that when the walk is just “on” the pier.

I’m betting at least someone is wishing I’d walk off a pier myself right about now.


About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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