Department of Redundancy Department


It happens when you repeat things unnecessarily.

For the record, Caro would like to point out that her favorite moment involving redundancy occurred when she and Lauren were editing their school newspaper and let the name “John M. Olin School of Business School” slip through the cracks and onto the published paper. Still makes her giggle.

Lately, though, we have come across several instances of redundancy in our lives that are making us batty and leading us to believe the masses could benefit from a few words on the topic. Fret not. We’re here to offer some advice on how to fix common redundancies.

Caro would like to draw attention first to the so-called “ATM machine,” because she just wants to SMACK all the people she hears who say “ATM machine.” Or maybe just give them dirty looks. (She’s really not violent enough to smack anyone.) Friends…you all know that ATM stands for automated teller machine, right? So when you say, “Oh, I just need to stop by the ATM machine,” you’re saying “Oh, I just need to stop by the automated teller machine machine!” See how SILLY that sounds?! So, please just limit yourself to saying ATM. Or say automated teller machine if you’re feeling all pretentious. We won’t judge.

Next, let’s address the words “reason” and “because.” You know what Caro can’t stand (aside from Rachael Ray’s voice and the song “Mercy” by Duffy)? The fact that people say, “the reason is because.”
“Hey, Tina! Why didn’t you come to my dinner party?”
“Well, Vicky, the reason is because you can’t cook.”
What?! WHY do you need both words? Caro is firmly of the belief that you can either say “because” OR “the reason is that.” Pick one. No need for both words in one explanatory sentence.
Revised example:
“Tina! How could you say such a thing?!”
“Vicky, I say that because your mashed potatoes make baby food look good.”
“Vicky, the reason is that the last time you cooked, the macaroni was soggy, the peas were mushed, and the chicken tasted like wood.”

As for Lauren’s redundancy peeves, the list is brief. Redundancy in general frustrates her, for example, when people repeat the exact same sentence or phrase over and over. Weirdly, she also likes to have things explained to her multiple times to ensure she understands. That does not mean you should repeat the same line to her multiple times, but rather change your phrasing because exact repetition generally doesn’t clarify the issue.

Yesterday though Lauren found another peeve, this time about pets. She has been serving federal jury duty in Chicago for the past two weeks. On Thursday morning during the pre-courtroom gathering, half the table of jurors was deep in discussion about cats and “mousing,” where cats chase after and eat mice. She had the misfortune to overhear this less-than-delicious conversation which was bad enough as it was. But then one juror started doing BOTH of Lauren’s redundancy pet peeves at once, repeating the same phrase over and over, and repeating a nonsensical redundant phrase at that! How meta right? Ok but really, it was painful. This particular juror insisted on repeating, “My cat uses mice as play toys.” Play toys. THESE ARE NOT THINGS. You play with toys. A toy is a play thing. Play is something that is done with a toy, but it is NOT a modifier of the word toy. Please refrain from using this made-up, incorrect, and repetitive term in your own life and you will save this copy team from anguish and heart break.

Your assignment this week, should you choose to accept it (and you should), is to reduce your redundancy footprint. It’s kind of like the carbon kind except less permanent. Your second assignment is to count how many times the word redundant or some variation thereof appears in this column. Big high fives if you guess correctly, and I mean come on, who doesn’t want a high five from us? No one, that’s who.

On that note, this is Caro and Lauren saying sayonara from the John M. Olin School of Business School. Over and out.

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