Avoid Redundancies That Bloat Writing and Speaking

Whether we’re online, listening to the radio or podcast, reading, watching television, or simply having a conversation with someone, we’re constantly processing an endless onslaught of words. Would it be too much to ask that the messages we’re receiving be concise?

As a communication professional, I work hard at watching for redundancies in my own writing and speaking. I also watch for redundancies in  the words I edit — ruthlessly — for others. Here are some recent examples of redundancies from television, print media and online sources that jarred my brain. Definitions are from merriam-webster.com.

new form of innovation
innovation defined: the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device

If an innovation is something new, can you have a new form of something that’s already new?

given away for free
give defined: to make a present of (It’s transferred voluntarily by one person to another without compensation.)
free defined: not costing any money

If you give away something, there is no cost to the receiver, so doesn’t that mean it’s free?

a social movement will rise up
rise defined: to move upward; to become higher; to slope or extend upward

If something is rising, do we need clarification that its trajectory is upward?

exact same
exact defined: exhibiting or marked by strict, particular and complete accordance with a fact or standard
same defined: not different; resembling in every relevant respect; exactly like someone or something else

If one thing is the same as something else, if it resembles that thing in every relevant respect, does adding exact make it more so?

Does the speed with which we communicate and the sheer volume of our messages contribute to these careless redundancies? If so, let’s all heighten our awareness and pause ever so slightly to consider how we can express something in the fewest number of words.

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Kathy Watson

Kathy Watson has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)