or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Redundancy Again

There are a number of phrases which some commentators will decry as "redundant" because they contain an unneeded word, one which would seem to be built into the rest of the phrase. I don't have a lot of patience for that point of view, because language isn't algorithms: we're allowed to chuck in extra words if it makes the sentence flow better, if it contributes to the sense, or, in fact, if we just plain feel like it.

However, here are three that do kind of tick me off.

From whence: This one doesn't bother me a lot. It's very old; it's in the King James translation of the Bible, and Shakespeare used it repeatedly, so it's got some credentials. Mind you, I could do without it, because "whence" does carry the sense of "from" within it--it literally means "from where"--and because, since it sounds a little antique to begin with, that feeling of antiquity is better served by using the word as it once was, without "from" ("Go back whence you came, vile creature!"). But I'm well aware that these are tiny cavils. "From whence" is well established and no longer wrong, if it ever was.

Continue on: This one bothers me a little more, because "continue" means "go on"; it incontrovertably carries "on" within itself. It's useful for people who believe that more syllables equal more impressive speech, maybe. (Obviously, there are phrases in which "on" is not attached to "continue": if you were to say "You may continue on your way", "on" belongs to "on your way". But even that usage is a little clumsy: "go on your way" is better; shorter and cleaner.)

Equally as: This one drives me around the bend (and it's heard all the time--a co-worker said it just yesterday). "Equally" is interchangeable with "as much as" or "just as", and it doesn't require an adverb, or in fact any sort of helper at all. "They're equally strong." "Equally interesting is the spotted cavy." Use "as" (or "as...as", depending on context) or use "equally", but don't try to mash them together.


Post a Comment

<< Home