Saturday, July 02, 2011


Over at Arnold Zwicky's is a post on 'redundant expressions'. Specifically, he's talking about the utility of "visually see". In the post, he references the Daily Writing Tips blog's collection of redundancies:
Here are some redundant combinations I’ve heard or read lately in the media. The careful writer will avoid such nonsense.

return back, progress forward, forests of trees, other alternatives, continue on, evacuated out, regress back, penetrate through, speeding too fast, refinanced again, a human person, charred black, a baby nursery, reiterate again, fast forward ahead, socialize together, two twin towers

Wow. Peevers amuse me. “Baby nursery” is nonsense? You probably didn't drop your child off at the greenhouse, but it’s not like “baby” and “nursery” are synonymous. Any driver will tell you that you can “speed” but not be going “too fast” - and, in fact, you can be going “too fast” and still be under the speed limit. “Refinanced again”? Maybe it’s the second time they refinanced – I know a lot of people who’ve done that. “Other alternatives"? Well, if I've given you three already I might ask if you want others. “Forests of trees” sounds a bit silly by itself like that, but how about “forests of evergreens”, or “forests of trees instead of concrete”? And I would find “we continued the road” or “continued our way” to be much worse than “continued on” either of them…

In fact, almost all of those phrases could be completely justified - in fact necessary - in contexts that aren't very difficult to imagine.

Lists of absolute prohibitions like that are just … risible.

The appropriate advice isn't “The careful writer will avoid such nonsense” but rather “the careful writer will be careful”. Of course, that advice is much harder, both to quantify and to follow, than “avoid these phrases” is...

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