Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Redundancy (1)

Redundancy (1). Today: Examples. Washington Irving wrote that “redundancy of language is never found with deep reflection. Verbiage may indicate observation, but not thinking. He who thinks much says but little in proportion to his thoughts.” Those words are worth reflecting on. This linguistic pitfall is best exemplified rather than discoursed on: o “A woman with a permanent disability who claims she received a low test score for the law school entrance exam test because the test-givers wouldn’t accommodate her has sued them for emotional distress.” Lauren Blau, “LSAT Target of Woman’s Suit,” L.A. Daily J., 15 Nov. 1995, at 3. (“Test” appears twice, once in the phrase “exam test,” tripling the redundancy.) o “That each creature from microbe to man is unique in all the world is amazing when you consider that every life form is assembled from the same identical [read ‘the same’ or ‘identical’] building blocks.” George Johnson, “Soul Searching,” N.Y. Times, 2 Mar. 1997, § 4, at 1. o “Curtis and Company was a prosperous chemist’s shop on Crawford Street, the nearest such to Baker Street; Holmes and I both frequented the establishment on a regular basis.” Barbara Paul, “The Sleuth of Christmas Past,” in Holmes for the Holidays 18, 19 (Martin H. Greenberg et al. eds., 1996). (“To frequent” means to “to visit (a place) often or habitually.”) o “As local Chinese opera was performed on a stage on the balcony, a distinguished audience watched from the courtyard that was gardened with tall trees and elegant dwarf bonsais.” Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History 375 (2002). (The author tried to create a distinction by using “tall” and “dwarf,” but bonsais are dwarfs by definition.) Next: Irony vs. Error. ——————- Quotation of the Day: “Almost every fine passage in our literature, whether in verse or in prose, owes a good deal to the alliterative method.” Henry Bett, Some Secrets of Style 63 (1932).
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