From the Department of Redundancy Department….

December 16th, 2009 by Bob Bly

I am a little obsessive about misuse of language and tend to nitpik, I know.

For instance, a headline for a news story on MSN.com today reads: “Is embalming really a necessity after death?”

“After death” is unnecessary in the sentence, because no one gets embalmed before death.

The headlline should read: “Is embalming necessary?”

Shorter and cleaner.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 at 11:35 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

32 responses about “From the Department of Redundancy Department….”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for From the Department of Redundancy Department…. - bly.com blog - bly.com direct marketing blog [bly.com] on Topsy.com said:

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  2. Satvik said:

    The problem is conversions. What about “Free Gift”? If you don’t say “Free”, then people get confused.

    Of the two headlines in your post, which do you think gets the most clicks? Most data I’ve seen says links around six words long get the most clicks.

  3. Greg said:

    I think I once dated someone who was embalmed before death.

  4. Bob Bly said:

    Satvik: you can make an interesting headline six words long without saying something as redundant as “embalmed after death.”

  5. TC/Copywriter Underground said:

    Clarity might demand the “after death” for readers who don’t know what embalming is…

  6. William Reynolds said:

    I’m not sure ANYTHING is a necessity after death….

  7. Bob Bly said:

    William: not for the deceased, but for the living, disposing of the body is a necessity….

  8. Bradley said:

    I’m not a professional writer like most of you on here, but I nitpick too, because I consider writing important.

    Really is a word I refrain from using frequently because in many cases it’s a redundant word. In your example, it says, “really a necessity”. What does really mean in this context? Is something “not really” a necessity?

    Something is either necessary or it isn’t!

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Bradley: The use of “really” tips the reader that MY opinion is that it is NOT a necessity. Without “really” the question is more objective.

  10. Bradley said:

    Thanks Bob. I didn’t think of it like that.

    Do you think that there are times where words like “actually”, “really”, “very”, and “absolutely” are unnecessary?

  11. Bob Bly said:

    Actually, there are times when they absolutely alter meaning — and other times when they absolutely are very unnecessary — actually. :)

  12. Bradley said:

    Thanks Bob.

    You’re hysterical!

  13. Ken Harrison said:

    Bob, one of my pet peeves is very similar. As we pulled into Penn Station every morning on the Long Island Rail Road, the engineer would announce our arrival at the train’s “LAST and FINAL stop.”

    Used to drive me batty.

  14. Internet Marketing Archives» Blog Archive » 'From the Department of Redundancy Department' by Bob Bly said:

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  15. Steve said:

    Does this mean someone should contact the American Dodge Ball Association of America?

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  17. Riya Aarini said:

    Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?

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  20. Mark said:

    LOL Sometimes, we forget to use our common sense whenever we are into writing. I usually do the same mistake sometimes. For the usage of words, there are times that we don’t expect to use unnecessary words in our writings.

  21. Bob Schulte said:

    Are you sure and certain? I mean, repetitive redundancy often requires a tentative confirmation, no?

  22. Melle Johnson said:

    I can think of some people who I would like embalmed before death..

  23. John De Vera said:

    Maybe somebody will be interested to undergo embalming before he/she die. LOL You’re right, most of the times, we construct sentences using unappropriated words. Which in turn appears to be redundant that leads to a nonsense sentence.

  24. Nokia 5800 said:

    Excellent point, but with the intelligence of the masses getting lower and lower, that headline might actually help some people understand that you have to wait til you die to get embalmed.

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