Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Redundancy (2).

Redundancy (2). Today: Irony vs. Error. Samuel Johnson once advised writers to “avoid ponderous ponderosity.” His repetition of word roots, of course, was purposeful. But many writers engage in such repetitions with no sense of irony, as in the phrases “build a building,” “refer to a reference,” “point out points,” “an individualistic individual.” In the sentences that follow, the repetitions are thoughtless errors: o “Other issues include preserving a minimum set of state-required requirements [read ‘state-imposed requirements’ or ‘state requirements’] like class size and teacher benefits in home-rule districts.” Kendall Anderson, “PISD Monitoring State Education Reform,” Dallas Morning News, 23 Mar. 1995, at G1. o “When Madison drafted the Constitution, he was concerned that specifying certain specific rights [read ‘specifying certain rights’] in the Bill of Rights might later be thought to exclude any rights not specifically listed.” Mel Lipman, “Plenty of ‘New Rights,'” Las Vegas Rev.-J., 11 Aug. 1997, at B6. Next: Common Phrases & One-Word Redundancies. ——————- Quotation of the Day: “After collecting a set of papers from a class, Robert Frost once asked whether there was anything in the lot anybody wanted to keep. When no one professed that much concern, he protested that he was ‘no perfunctory reader of perfunctory writing’ and threw the whole batch in the trash basket. Few teachers are so bold, but every reader feels the waste of perfunctory writing, writing without commitment.” John E. Jordan, Using Rhetoric 24 (1965).
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