Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10: International Day of Redundancy Day

On this day in 1966 the Mamas and the Papas were awarded a gold record for their song "Monday, Monday." In an era where British bands were invading and dominating the American music scene, the Mamas and the Papas, an American band, held their own with a string of '60s hits. The group, made up of Cass Eliot, Michelle Phillips, John Phillips, and Denny Doherty, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 (1).

A song title like "Monday, Monday" brings to mind one aspect of writing that most writers try to avoid: redundancy. Of course the Mamas and the Papas use of redundancy was probably for emphasis, which is appropriate. Another appropriate use is irony, as in William Safire's advice for writers: "Never, ever use repetitive redundancies!" He might have rephrased it as, "Don't be redundant, repeat yourself, and say things over and over again."

Sometimes redundancy can be humorous as in the famous quote by Samuel Goldwyn: "Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined."

Despite these exceptions, it's a good idea for most writers to visit The Department of Redundancy Department for a refresher course on watching out for redundancy and tautology. Here is another example of irony since tautology is the Greek term for redundancy.

Careless repetition is a common error that produces wordy and awkward writing. Since one of the basic principles of good writing is to make every word count, eliminate any unnecessary words.

For example, notice the wordy, redundant phrases in the following sentence:

Past experience teaches us that if we continue to persevere our future plans will come true.

Eliminating the redundancies makes the sentence more clear and more concise:

Experience teaches us that if we persevere our plans will come true.

Below are examples of redundant expressions:
  1. absolute necessity
  2. add on to
  3. advanced planning
  4. basic fundamentals
  5. blue in color
  6. combine together
  7. complete stop
  8. few in number
  9. future plans
  10. join together
  11. meet up with
  12. merge together
  13. new innovation
  14. new recruit
  15. one and only
  16. orbit around
  17. pair of twins
  18. the reason is because
  19. surrounded on all sides
  20. visible to the eye
Today's Challenge: Join the Squad Squad and Eliminate Redundancies
Go through each redundant phrase above, and cross out any words that make it redundant.

Quote of the Day: It's deja vu all over again. --Yogi Berra

Answers (The words that should be remaining after you have crossed out the unnecessary words): 1. necessity 2. add 3. planning 4. basic 5. blue 6. combine 7. stop 8. few 9. plans 10. join 11. meet 12. merge 13. innovation 14. recruit 15. only 16. orbit 17. twins 18. because 19. surround 20. visible


No comments: