Wednesday, May 7, 2008

From the Department of Redundancy Department

Ha--couldn't resist that corny old joke from a former marketing coworker. Freelance editor Gayle Johnson today offers some tips on shortening redundant phrases, yet another way to bring clarity to your writing and editing:

You can make your writing (and speech) more concise and economical by eliminating redundancy—words that creep in, unnoticed, that aren’t really needed. For example, I recently read a review of a film that was described as hilariously funny. Perhaps you’ve been in a house that had walls painted a rich chocolate brown, a living room with a large picture window, and a kitchen with a center island. Have you ever encountered a young lad who was said to be a child prodigy? Was he so talented that you wanted to clap your hands? Or did you just shrug your shoulders? How often do you gesture with your hands? Do you ever print out a document, or link two objects together?

One of my favorite examples of redundancy comes from a church bulletin I read many years ago. (This weekly bulletin was always so chock-full of errors that it could have served as an editing test.) One of the items offered “sincere Christian sympathy” to those who had recently lost a loved one.

Remember to watch for redundancy while editing and also in your own writing as well—even though it might not be possible to eliminate redundancy completely.

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