Search Results for: redundancy


Couldn’t We Care Less About The Word ‘Pivot,’ Irregardless Of The Consequences? #

Scott Simon weighed in last month about the word “pivot,” which he’s tired of hearing in stories about politicians. “The hundredth time you’ve heard it bounce off the echo chamber of pundits and analysts, it begins to smack of smug insider-ness,” he said.

“Pivot” is a word we use a lot when discussing politicians and their shifting positions. It shows up in about 100 stories we posted or broadcast in the past year.

Scott has a point. We don’t have to use the same word every time. Just as each tornado does not have to “sound like a freight train,” every politician’s pirouette does not have to be called a pivot. Let’s try to use some other words. “Change” or “switch” or “shift” offer possibilities. Maybe it’s a simple “turn.”

Today’s other potentially pedantic points:

–  Just say “regardless.” “Irregardless” means “without without regard” and just doesn’t make sense.

–  If you’re “flaunting,” that means you’re proudly showing off. If you’re “flouting,” you’re showing scorn or contempt; rejecting or defying.

–  In almost all cases, you really mean to say “couldn’t care less,” not “could care less.”

– “Sink, sank, sunk.” “Spring, sprang, sprung.” Watch your tenses.

Redundancies and clichés are almost always wastes of time and space.  In the vast majority of cases we’re better off without them.

(“Memmos;” July 6, 2016)


Pleonasms: Words That Don’t Need To Be Together #

Here’s a word that a search indicates may never have been said on NPR: “pleonasm.”

But we and other news outlets put pleonasms on the air and on the Web every day.

What is a pleonasm?

“The use of more words than are necessary for the expression of an idea; redundancy.”

Some examples:

– There’s been a “mass exodus” of Syrians.

An “exodus” is the departure of a large, massive group.

“What I did was legally permitted, first and foremost,” says Hillary Clinton.

“Foremost” means “first in place or time.”

Homes that were in the path of a wildfire were “completely destroyed.”

If they were destroyed, enough’s been said.

John McIntyre, the “veteran drudge” at the Baltimore Sun, has collected pleonasms, here and here.

A few of the more common:

–  “Safe haven.”

–  “Final results.”

–  “Advance planning.”

You can probably think of many more.

There are times when pleonasms are useful – for instance, when you want to make sure listeners really, really, really understand the point you’re making. Also, they are common expressions and we do try to be conversational.

But, they annoy some listeners, might add nothing to your story and take up space when you may be fighting to squeeze in valuable information.  Feel free to cut them.

Related post:Do You Suffer From RAS Syndrome?

(Memmos; Sept. 15, 2015)


Do You Suffer From RAS Syndrome? #

At her favorite gourmet market last week, Korva went to the ATM machine, inserted her card, squinted at the LCD display, entered her PIN number and withdrew cash to pay for her RAS Syndrome therapy.

We’ll stop there.

“Redundant acronym syndrome” isn’t our most serious problem. There’s even a case to be made that saying something like “START treaty” instead of just “START” (the acronym for “Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty”) may be a helpful error on the radio (though never online). If there was a sense that adding the word “treaty” helped the listener understand what you were talking about, the redundancy would be a relatively minor mistake.

But, listeners notice when we insert redundant words. They point out that we would not say “automated teller machine machine” or “liquid crystal display display” or “personal identification number number” or “redundant acronym syndrome syndrome.”

For those listeners, redundancies are nicks in otherwise spotless stories. As Oxford Dictionaries notes in its guidance on “avoiding redundant expressions,” repetition can “give the impression that you don’t really understand the meaning of the words you’re using.”

It’s also worth noting that we benefit if we eliminate unnecessary words. Doing that makes room for other information and when you’re squeezing everything you can into a tight space, each word counts. “Precision writing and editing,” as we’ve said before, are important tools of our trade.

There are many lists online of redundancies, including those at:

The Redundant Acronym Phrase project. (Where “NPR radio” is among those listed.)

(Memmos; Jan. 6, 2015)