Redundancy, Again

We live in a world awash with words. Waves of words pummel our eyes and ears every day. We don't always read or listen attentively to every word in this flood of verbiage, so we suspect that the people to whom we're talking or writing may not be paying attention either. We worry that our meaning will be lost, so we say things twice.

We've always had redundancies in American English, such as "time clock," "hot water heater," "that's all well and good," "cool, calm, and collected," and "that's past history."

And we all intentionally use redundancy for emphasis once in a while: "Would you like to buy a ticket to a week-long mime and bagpipe festival at Three-Mile Island?"

"No thanks, not me, no way."

But these new redundancies are not mere idioms or clichs. Our information glut has spawned a new redundancy that is unconscious and automatic.

A corporate executive talks about "our company's future plans." (As opposed to plans for something other than the future?)

A weather reporter warns of "a mass of frigid cold air moving into our area tonight." (Frigid air is bad enough, but frigid and cold? Br-r-r-r.)

A sign on a self-service gas pump instructs the customer to "Prepay before pumping gas." (I prefer to prepay after pumping.) Some others:

"His position is almost borderline."

"The rally was incredibly fantastic."

"The status quo remains unchanged."

A car dealer offers me a "free gift" just for test-driving a new car. (What a nice break from all those gifts for which we have to pay - or prepay.)

A teacher calls his project "an ongoing work in progress."

A politician says that she is trying to "ascertain the truth and veracity of the claim."

A motel billboard offers "Rooms Starting at $29.95 and Up" and a "free complimentary continental breakfast."

A radio reporter refers to "the average per capita income in Vietnam."

A movie reviewer says the characters in a movie are "cliched and unoriginal."

A corporate executive says, "This is an important and significant time in our company's history."

A lawyer says that the chance of his client's dropping her lawsuit is "minute and small."

I wonder if people who use excess verbiage think they're being paid, as some essayists are paid, by the word ... by the word ... by the word ....?

Please forgive me if I've excessively prattled on too interminably about this blatantly egregious problem of repetitive language redundancy, tautology, and pleonasm. I hope I have made myself understandable, comprehensible, and clear. If not, would you like for me to repeat once more what I've said again?

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