Monday, November 28, 2022

MLP: Cringe-worthy redundancies, and an admission

| December 9, 2021 1:00 AM

Waste not, want not, as the old adage goes. Words shouldn’t pile up like useless trash on a dump site. The poor fellows have value, says your Mrs. Language Person. Dignity! Due respect!

Each word deserves its place in the linguistic sun. Synonyms must be separated, carved out of the jumble (but never “separated out,” as reader J.P. noted).

Please, Dear Reader, say it isn’t merely word nerds who balk at such cringe-worthy redundancies. They’re simply not where it’s at. (Shudder! Two place references need not occupy the same sentence. Sigh.)

If two words essentially mean the same thing, they should part ways. To MLP, hearing them conjoined is like nails screeching down the old chalkboard. Spare her the agony.

MLP begs your supportive efforts to avoid, correct, and abhor these common redundant phrases:

Where she’s at. It’s where she is. She is at home. Never, never “where it’s at.”

These ones. These already specify. Which ones? These. “These ones” is overkill.

Unexpected surprise. As opposed to an expected surprise? Come now.

Basic necessities. This tired cliché may be argued, as occasionally something unusual may become a necessity. But if something is “basic” it generally is a necessity, so good editors tend to eliminate one or the other.

ATM machine and HTML language. It pays to know one’s acronyms. Automated Teller Machine and Hypertext Markup Language are sufficient; no need to repeat the last word. Rather like the Sahara, without the desert (“sahara” is Arabic for desert).

Added bonus. A bonus is something extra. It’s added already, so an added bonus is repetitive.

My personal opinion. As opposed to an impersonal one? Naturally your opinion is personal to you. Would one assume the word “my” refers to someone else’s opinion?

Invited guests. An uninvited guest is a visitor or worse, an intruder. Guests are by definition “a person who is invited.”

Revert back. Could you revert forward? Of course not. Back out of it.

Unintentional mistake. A mistake is unknown when committed, even if the action is intentional. Unintended consequences, however, make sense.

New innovations. An innovation is by definition new, or represents some change from a prior state. Perhaps it’s possible to distinguish a recent from a prior development among a list of innovations. Otherwise “new” is redundant.

Free gift. Does one ever pay to receive a gift? If so, it isn’t one.

Longer in length. Need this be explained?

Now before she closes, MLP must address an issue taken with her last column. Mr. Principal Person, one Dan Nicklay of Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy and noted English aficionado, was the first to admonish your MLP about “hone in.” “Home in” is indeed correct, instructs MPP.

After further research, your rarely-so-humble Mrs. Language Person must concede. With a caveat.

It seems “hone in,” while ostensibly logical as a narrowed (or honed) focus on a subject, is a more recent addition to the language and likely a misunderstanding of the original “home in.” According to Merriam Webster, “home in” is derived from the description of a missile or a pigeon homing in on a target, finding the intended destination.

Webster’s describes “hone” as more appropriate referring to the honing of a skill. The caveat, weak though it may be, is that in modern parlance (according to some, but not all, grammar sites), “hone in” has become acceptable.

Then again, so has wearing pajamas in public and your MLP would never.

Thus, she is publicly shamed. An hour in the stocks should suffice. Please, Mr. Principal Person, don’t throw an apple. If you do, let’s hope it doesn’t home in on the red-faced target.

Mrs. Language Person and Sholeh Patrick are columnists for the Hagadone News Network. Email

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