Everybody now feels compelled to say, “including but not limited to…” because it sounds sophisticated: all lawyers insert it into contracts and letters to impress laypersons, or more likely because they are paid by the word: A lawyer will charge you $350.00 for drafting a one-paragraph “Cease and Desist” letter to your adversary. And so the rot spreads because lawyers are the most ubiquitous and most glorified professionals in the USA. An American is more likely to go through life without needing a doctor than without needing a lawyer! Lawyers are very important role models in the USA. And lawyers simply love obfuscatory verbiage because they make documents sound impressive.
I scratch my head whenever I see “including but not limited to….” The word “including” is completely adequate here; it needs no bells and whistles. The clothes in my closet include shirts, but they are not limited to shirts: I have pants and jackets too. It is IMPOSSIBLE to find a case where “including” implies that what is included constitutes the whole category under reference. To see this clearly, draw a rectangle and inside it draw a circle. Your rectangle includes the circle but is not limited to the circle: there are things (areas) that lie within the rectangle but outside the circle.
So whenever I see that “…but not limited to” I delete it. My lawyer does not seem to notice the deletion; or he does not mind because he knows it is totally tautological: it adds no meaning or clarification.
What of “in any way, shape, or form”? What distinction do “shape” and “form” add to the phrase? How about “in and of and by itself”? “In itself “is adequate and everything else there is tautology. While we may blame such chain-link deployment of prepositions on lawyers eager to impress us, there is a new kind of preposition that is more baffling, and the origin of which is more nebulous. English usage in America seems to have evolved a new preposition, “offof”: as in “Get your hand offof me!” Or is it off-of? Ofof? Of-of? I guess I’ve never seen it in writing, so anything goes here. What is wrong with saying just “off” (“Get your hands off me”)?
Such creations start when someone makes a mistake and others latch onto it as a new style. An apparently even more recent creation is “The problem is is…” What is the second “is” doing here? Someone probably heard a speaker say “What this is, is a mistake,” (which is correct English) and the listener (who cannot “hear” the comma after the first “is”) then thought that “is is” is cute. A similar nonsense is “the reason being is….” One can say, “I came late. The reason is that I missed my bus.” Or you can join the two sentences into one by changing is to being: “I came late, the reason being that I missed my bus.” But you can’t keep both is and being together right there (and say: I came late, the reason being is….”
One suspects that such mangled sentence formulation comes from the American habit of taking our cues from “celebrities.” Celebrities are persons who have achieved fame through their hard work (one hopes) in specific, narrow spheres of human endeavor. Such achievement does not make them all-round gurus. In fact, in most cases a celebrity status was attained through the habit of practicing just one role in life and, unfortunately, devoting less time or none at all to education. The child who watches lots of movies but pays scant attention to her English teacher at school is likely to become an adult who speaks gobbledygook!
American children (and increasingly children the world over) learn much more from television than from school, for two reasons. One is that much more time is devoted to TV watching than to school work or home work. Another is that the presenters on TV (including actors especially) are spellbinding because they are cute, while the harried teachers in class are drab. So perhaps our society can ameliorate he problem by requiring that script writers for TV programs be quite literate and competent!