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.)
Grammar.About.com.
Fun-With-Words.com.

(Memmos; Jan. 6, 2015)

January 6, 2015

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