Redundancy

Akanksha Tripathi and Dr.Monal Desai 

“My definition of Redundancy is an air-bag in a politician’s car”. Larry Hagman

What is redundancy?

Redundancy is the repetition of words or phrases, conveying the same meaning or idea in speech or writing. This unnecessary repetition leads to clumsiness in the text. It sometimes creates confusion and deviates the reader from the main points or ideas. In formal writing, redundancy is not appreciated.

Most of the time, if we run a piece through Grammarly, it points out this fault of redundancy and recommends us to avoid. Essentially, in formal writing, sentences should be concise. This does not mean that we cannot write bearish sentences, but we must be careful not to clone. Wordiness would lead us to some kind of repetition.

When does redundancy occur and why should it be avoided?

It happens when we try to embellish our writing with heavy words. In the academic field, this is considered amateur and unprofessional.

How can you trim sentences to do away with redundancy

1. Avoid Pleonasm: Pleonasm is reiterating a phrase or a word. Example, either say ‘4 in the morning’ or ‘4 am’ but do not say ‘4 am in the morning’. Here is the list of few such phrases:

REPLACE REPLACEMENT
A person who is very responsible A responsible person
A total of 25 students 25 students
Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi’s life Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi
Everyone of you Everyone
Please find enclosed here with Please find enclosed
Free gift voucher Gift voucher
New initiative Initiative
Period of 14 days Fortnight
Confusing in nature confusing
Revert back Revert
Small/large in size  small/large
Square in shape square
Return back return
End result result
Top apex apex

2. Avoid Redundant Acronym Syndrome (RAS): Use abbreviation smartly because some of us are in the habit of elaborating the last letter of the acronym. Example:

REPLACE REPLACEMENT
PIN number PIN
ATM machine ATM
VIN number VIN
DC comics DC
HIV virus HIV
LCD display LCD
PDF format PDF
UPC code UPC

3. Use intensifiers Appropriately: Intensifiers are those words which add meaning to an action word (Verb) or describing word (Adjective). For the sake of using intensifiers (also called modifiers), we unintentionally dilute the meaning of a word. It makes an unusual pair as ‘modifier’ and ‘modified’.

Examples: 

  • She is so very beautiful. When ‘very’ is used, ‘so’ is redundant. 
  • The weather is extremely freezing. Word ‘freezing, itself suggests extremely cold so the word ‘extremely’ is redundant.
  • Today is my happy birthday. ‘Happy birthday’ is a compliment to the person. 

Here is the list of intensifiers, you should be cautious while using them:

Seldom, exclusively, hardly, severely, extremely

4.Language Origin Redundancy: There are some words that have a foreign origin, e.g. Latin or French for English language. Without thinking, we use the synonym in English language along with the foreign word.

Example: Silver Jubilee Anniversary. Jubilee has old French origin that means anniversary. In this case, the word ‘Anniversary’ is redundant.

5. Avoid Expletives: Expletives are used because of the following reasons: 

  • in the habit of using swear words, e.g., ‘Good Lord’  
  • used by the orator during an impromptu speech to buy time to think, e.g.  ‘Having said that.’ 
  • using unintentionally, e.g., ‘These words do not add meaning to the sentence.’ They create ambiguity.These words (which words?) do not add meaning to the sentence.

These expletives do not add meaning to the sentence. 

Examples: ‘Having said that’, ‘As far as I know’, ‘First and foremost’, ‘In order to’, ‘In the manner of’ ‘There is’ ‘It is’ ‘Good Lord’ ‘ By the grace of God’.  

6. Avoid Two Negatives: When two negatives make a positive, we better use one positive.

 

REPLACE REPLACEMENT
He is not unhealthy. He is healthy.
She is not spendthrift. She is miserly.
She is not ugly. She is beautiful.
He is not happy. He is unhappy.
He is regularly irregular. He is irregular.

7. Eliminating Euphemism: Euphemism is an understatement about something or someone. It is used in literary language to avoid being rude or direct. In academic writing, the insistence is on direct/straightforward language.

 

REPLACE REPLACEMENT
Passed away died
Mercy killing euthanasia
Between jobs unemployed
Capital punishment Death penalty
Medical termination of pregnancy Abortion
Fair sex Female