Why we use redundant language that is redundant! – You Don’t Say- Vol 81

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Ray Hudson

By Ray Hudson

Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson

One of the things that amuses me is our tendency to use two words, that mean the same thing, to enhance the meaning.  Case in point is an American journalist I heard recently who reported on the “true facts” of a case in court. Facts must be true or they aren’t facts. Are there any facts that aren’t true?  Then they become falsehoods, lies and damned lies!

Advance warning: If I tell you something is about to happen so you can be prepared for it, that is a warning. If I offer that warning before the event, is it not in advance of the event? Either that or it means I’m warning you in advance of warning you that I will be warning you. Got that? There will be a test (that’s a warning)!

Free gift: Here is a wonderful redundancy used by hucksters who are trying to coax you into buying the latest gizmo, by rewarding you with a free gift. A gift is something that is given freely and willingly without payment. So, “Free” is unnecessary, and remember, the Trojan horse appeared to be a free gift as well.

Added bonus: Another selling phrase, ‘and as an extra added bonus…..” A bonus is something added to something that is already good; the company bonus may be a seasonal gift of extra money or privilege, which is added to your salary, commission or work place. If a bonus is already something added, why say again that the bonus is added?

Mass exodus: Exodus implies a movement of large numbers (masses) of people such as the Israelites from Egypt, or soccer fans leaving a stadium, so why say mass exodus, unless (and only if) there is a large escape of church members after mass, because there was no advance warning that the sermon would be soooooo long.

Invited guests: As opposed to what? If they aren’t invited they aren’t guests, they’re party crashers. And speaking of party, another amusing redundancy often heard in media is the NDP Party. We have become so used to using the initials NDP, we want to add on Party just Like Liberal Party or Conservative party. But with the NDP, the P stands for Party, so we are being redundant by calling it the New Democratic Party party.

Eight a.m. in the morning: a.m. (or AM) is Latin for ante (before) meridiem (midday). That makes it morning, or else it would be p.m. (or PM) which is Latin for post (after) meridiem (midday). Simply put, 8 a.m. in the morning means 8 in the morning in the morning. Stop! I’ve got it already!

Short snappers: Fall down (not up?), foreign imports (if imported it’s from somewhere else – foreign likely), convicted felon (if you are a felon you must have been convicted and adding ‘convicted’ is redundant), forever and ever (forever is just that – you can’t make it any longer – not even forever and a day because forever, is forever! (and ever and evermore), new innovations (as opposed to????), armed gunmen (as opposed to????)

So there you have it. I will end now out of an abundance of caution that I interrupt the rest of your reading time with too many words: Doesn’t this one just drive you nuts? Caution is defined as: care taken to avoid danger or mistakes. American politicians, in particular, have come up with this phrase to make it sound as if they are taking extra special care over and above what they normally exercise (doesn’t that give you a warm feeling of confidence?) And to notch it up a level, I heard recently: that something was avoided because of an extreme abundance of caution. Can you say hyperbole? I expect the highest level of caution from my public safety people, my government people, and it is beyond redundant to use such a ridiculous phrase.

So, to summarize briefly, I’m done! Have a good week.