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Just now, during a commentary on the sport of curling, I heard two very frequent redundancies that I find utterly bewildering, and so, that sent me off to write this post. The odd redundancies are among the following four ubiquitous offenses, listed from most common to least:
  • Wrong usage: “Reason why”; as in the “The reason why George reacted as he did is easily explained by his history.” This should be “The reason George reacted as he did is easily explained by his history” or “Why George reacted as he did is easily explained by his history.” This redundancy is a very common language offense.

  • Ugly usage: “As per”; as in “As per your recent tirade about your staple-gun, here are the staples that fit.” Perhaps not incorrect, this diction is smoother if the “as” is dropped. So, “Per your recent tirade about your staple-gun, here are the staples that fit.”

  • Speaking error: “Off of”; as in “The Leafs’ forward couldn’t get the defense off of his back”. (Acrimonious aside: For decades, this has been all too frequent with the Leafs). Simply drop the redundant “of”.

  • Speaking error: “is is”, as in “The thing is is that she was trained as a figure skater”, often with the first “is” emphasized, and a slight pause before the second, redundant, “is”.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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As per”; as in “As per your recent tirade about your staple

I believe "as per" means "in accordance with" or "according to" and requires the initial word (at least as per OneLook Dictionary).
 
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I see no reason to use "as" with "per," so my as per ation is to do without it.
 
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And how many times do we hear, "What is, is." I suppose it's (they're) not wrong, per se, but maybe could be said better?
 
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Kalleh, your example of the double "is" is, I think, quite valid. Wouldn't you agree?

Actually, I did look up "reason why" before I posted (Grammarphobia, Daily Writing Tips) and noted that it has been around for a long time. It apparently has mixed acceptance, but I align myself with those who see it as an unnecessary redundancy, and to that extent, incorrect. "Off of" I did not examine beforehand, but I mighta' guessed that Goofy would swiftly put me in my place. That particular usage seems to have acceptance as a "speech idiom", and rarely appears in writing. I'll certainly concede that point, but it will never be part of my diction, unless I make an error (which, God knows, is not as rare an occurrence as I could wish!). Frown

"As per" I merely see as an unnecessarily ugly usage.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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The first article linked to by goofy made the case that redundancy is not in itself a Bad Thing. However, I would rarely use "per" anyway - it's Latin, not an English word - so "as per", redundant or not, would also be avoided. I'd probably use "regarding" or "relating to" instead.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Redundancy for emphasis can be effective. Just ask Shakespeare! "O, that this too too solid flesh would melt..." in Hamlet, or or "this was the most unkindest cut of all" in Julius Caesar."
 
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A fall off of a tree.
King Henry VI, part II: II, i 2

Love is merely a madness, and, I tell you, deserves
as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do: and
the reason why they are not so punished and cured
is, that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers
are in love too. Yet I profess curing it by counsel.
As You Like It: III, ii

Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.
All's Well that Ends Well: I, iii

Thy asses are gone about 'em. The reason why the
seven stars are no more than seven is a pretty reason.
King Lear: I, v
 
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Perhaps not a prime example of "redundancy", I've noticed (especially with politicians) that when mentioning where an event occurred it is often stated as "the city of...." followed by the name. Ditto for "state of.;.."

Why is it necessary to include "city" or "state" when the proper noun is an indication of the subject? Is it to make it seem more important than it really is?
 
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Kalleh, your example of the double "is" is, I think, quite valid. Wouldn't you agree?
Valid? Yes. Would people understand what is meant? Yes. Articulate? I am doubtful.
 
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Why is it necessary to include "city" or "state" when the proper noun is an indication of the subject?

That's not common over here, although it does happen. In some cases "The City of" is actually part of the local area title, as in "The City of London" or "The City of York".

In a lot of cases, though, I suspect they are just examples of politicians' fondness for long-windedness.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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they are just examples of politicians' fondness for long-windedness.

Exactly my point.
 
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“The reason why all this was to be done by him alone, was such as I have given above.”

Excerpt From: Austen, Jane. “Pride and Prejudice.”


“but there was no reason why Fanny should not know the truth.”

Excerpt From: Austen, Jane. “Mansfield Park.”
 
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Arnie, Geoff, Goofy; Points well made. Goofy, your quoting Jane Austen was the most unkindest cut of them all!

Kalleh, the little sentence "What is, is" is a lamentation or observation on the implacability of fate, an English rendition of "Que sera, sera!".

Good point, Proofreader. Your "city of" remark is yet another good example of politicians' diction extenders, and is another of my peeves. Such redundant expressions are in great prominence on the tongues of talking heads of all varieties, and have the same flavor as " the month of January", "throughout the morning hours" (indeed, often "in the morning" would do as well), "into the overnight", and so on.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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"City of" used to be common in Spanish-settled parts of the US. For example, what we usually call "Los Angeles" is really "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula" Now you know why they just say, "L A!" There's also a city in California named, "City of Industry."
 
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I'm surprised none of our American cousins has mentioned another 'redundant' city: New York. To avoid confusion with the state you need to say "City of New York", New York City" or "New York, New York".


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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In regard to "the month of January" versus "January", does not the former have a slight whiff of the poetic? Me dear ol' Granny would often anticipate "the long, cold, hungry month of March" and that simple redundancy would sound more foreboding than "long, cold, hungry March".
On the other hand, Burns's mouse had to anticipate "...bleak December's winds ensuin..." rather than "the bleak month of December's winds ensuin...". Clearly, Granny had Bobbie beat on that one! Wink
 
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New York, New York is the city so nice they named it twice.

Obviously there is no real need to add "the city of" before the name except for purposes of aggrandizement. Locally, there is only one "Providence" or "Boston", so there is no need to add the entity. But what politician ever laid claim to being from East Overshoe. Instead they want to represent the great city of East Overshoe in the great state of Ennui.
 
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Kalleh, the little sentence "What is, is" is a lamentation or observation on the implacability of fate, an English rendition of "Que sera, sera!"
Well, if you put it that way, I'll take your stance: I just don't like the phrase. How's that?
 
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Duncan touches on an apropos point, IMHO. As I have mentioned before, the crucible I tend to test language in - at least for "correctness" - is business writing, or more generally, writing aimed at conveying information with "minimum transmission error". The key point here is that the communicator and the audience are often neither patient nor well-disposed to one another (even frequently being mutually hostile), and so, clarity and brevity must be the measures of diction success - as opposed, for example, to efficacy at achieving some artistic effect.

Writers of novels, poems, stories, and other entertainment pieces are not under such picayune constraints, and indeed, are understandably ready to sacrifice either clarity or brevity to achieving an artistic effect, end or tone. In this context, apt language usage, already a tenuous enough concept, can be almost meaningless. So, Rex Stout can write "I took my hat and beat it", but it might be better worded for business purposes! Wink

So, for me, the fact that some writer has employed a particular piece of diction somewhere, sometime, is hardly impressive support for its correctness or aptness ... even if it does provide food for thought.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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When writing formally I'll do my best to avoid using constructions that might upset those who have strong feelings about them - the prescriptivists. Thus I'll rewrite to avoid ending sentences with a preposition, not split infinitives whenever possible, and so on. The resultant prose is bland, unremarkable and (I'm sure) relatively uninteresting. To the same end, I'll eschew any usages that might be described as as literary or poetic. The intention is to convey the facts in what I'm writing without the reader stopping every now and then to think "Doesn't he know better than to use 'off of'?" or whatever.

What I prefer to write, or use in speech, is a whole 'nother matter.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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There is no reason to hold all forms of speech and writing to the same standard. What is correct in business writing might not be correct in informal conversation or prose fiction, and vice versa.

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Originally posted by goofy:
There is no reason to hold all forms of speech and writing to the same standard. What is correct in business writing might not be correct in informal conversation or prose fiction, and vice versa.
Precisely!
 
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Goofy: There is no reason to hold all forms of speech and writing to the same standard.
...My point entirely, Goofy. However, I tend to suspect that what is right in business writing would normally be right – viz, in terms of maximizing the probably of being understood - elsewhere, where this might be less true vice versa. "Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy" (Ps 98:8) wouldn't do in a business letter, but "The President's cavalcade was greeted enthusiastically by those along his driving route.", while woefully colorless, would be correct and clear in both the artistic and practical contexts. Wink


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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When writing formally I'll do my best to avoid using constructions that might upset those who have strong feelings about them - the prescriptivists.
Totally agree, arnie. Me too.
 
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Originally posted by WeeWilly:
...My point entirely, Goofy. However, I tend to suspect that what is right in business writing would normally be right – viz, in terms of maximizing the probably of being understood - elsewhere, where this might be less true vice versa.


That's not what I meant. I thought we were talking about grammar, and grammatical differences between registers don't often impede the probability of being understood, I think. "To whom did you give the gift" is appropriate in business writing and inappropriate in normal conversation, but completely understandable in both.

I don't know if "reason why" and "off of" are used in business writing but I wouldn't be surprised if they were.
 
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I don't know if "reason why" and "off of" are used in business writing but I wouldn't be surprised if they were.
... neither would I, but they shouldn't be!

Also, "To whom did you give the gift?" - provided it is followed by a "?" would be quite OK, even if a trifle stilted.


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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I would say "To whom," and wouldn't consider it stifled.
 
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"Stifled"? Really, Edith!

"To whom did you give the gift?" sounds slightly more pedantic - or stilted - than "Who did you give the gift to?", but I agree, Kalleh, that this is hardly a severe matter!


"The smell of the dust they kicked up was rich and satisfying" - Grahame
 
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"To whom" is formal and I thought was not used in informal conversation. If someone said it to me in informal conversation I'd be surprised. It's out of place, the same way "ain't" in a business letter is out of place. But you guys use it, so whatever.

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Sorry, I meant "stilted;" you are right, WeeWilly.

Well, goofy, I see your point. Let me say it this way. If I were informally talking to someone, you are right; I probably wouldn't say "to whom." However, were I presenting to an audience, or the like, I would. Does that make sense?

Yet, I come from a very prescriptivist family, so I might be corrected were I to say, "Who did you give the gift to?" I sure am when I say, "less than" instead of "fewer than, or, God forbid, sometimes I really cause a ruckus by saying, "Lay down" to the dog.
 
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I might be corrected were I to say

Nice (and rare these days) use of the subjunctive mood, Kalleh! Cool


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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