By Brandie Bohney
Today’s topic is redundancy. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of redundancy, it is basically the needless repetition of similar words or concepts. It’s important to be aware of redundancy in your writing or speech because being precise and saying what you mean are important. Another reason redundancy awareness is important, though, is redundancy is common.
Surely you’ve heard people chide the use of terms such as ATM machine and PIN number, and while those are obvious instances of ridiculous repetition, redundancy is frequently much sneakier.
Take, for example, the nightly news. How often have you heard the term armed gunman? He wouldn’t be much of a gunman if he weren’t armed, now would he? What about advanced warning? If you tell someone about something after it happens, it’s a report, not a warning. And consider my personal favorite redundant phrase: free gift. Gifts I have to pay to receive aren’t my favorites.
To complicate the matter further, some redundant statements are actually useful. Take, for example, the phrase absolutely essential. In reality, being essential is an absolute, so adding absolutely is redundant. But if I were speaking to someone who, say, flies his personal jet to Mexico each weekend to golf, our definitions of essential may not be the same. He may think of his jet as essential, and I may disagree. In such an instance, or in describing such an instance, I might add the adverb absolutely in order to drive home the point of one view of necessity versus luxury.
The point is this: While it’s good to be aware of the possible redundancies in our speech and writing, it’s hard to eliminate needless repetition entirely. Any time you need to be precise or concise or both, checking for redundancies is an essential need. Unintentional accidents in redundancy can make you appear foolish, and you don’t want to meet your final end because of repetitive redundancy.
None of the redundancies in the previous paragraph were necessary, by the way. I just enjoy excessively overdoing things.