The Department of Redundancy Department

January 6th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A radio news program interviewed an SEC investigator who promised the American public a “swift and prompt” investigation of the Bernard Madoff case.

Aren’t journalists supposed to be the guardians of proper English? What does “prompt” add to the meaning of the sentence that “swift” did not convey?

The report also mentioned Madoff’s attorney defending his client’s sending of a million dollars worth of jewelry to relatives.

Madoff’s parole prohibits disposing of assets while Madoff is under house arrest in his plush Park Avenue apartment.

The attorney noted the jewelry, which has an estimated value of a million dollars, consisted of family heirlooms and was not a “significant asset.”

Significant compared to what?

I guess for a guy that lost $50 billion, a million dollars means nothing.

But I would think in this case “significant” applies to Madoff’s ability to pay back his bilked investors, and I doubt many of them would consider a pay-back of one million dollars insignificant, yes?

Yes, Madoff owes some of his investors $10 million or more. But even at that level, getting paid back a million dollars is better than nothing.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2009 at 9:22 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.

752 responses about “The Department of Redundancy Department”

  1. Gloria Hildebrandt said:

    I owe much less than a million dollars to all my creditors combined, and funny, none of them thinks the amount is not significant. If a mill is not significant to Madoff, he should have no difficulty giving that to his investors.

  2. Note Taking Nerd #2 said:

    That’s lawyers for you. Re-frame and re-direct.

    Writer’s have so much to learn from the slicker than spit on a gold tooth language patterns these men use to sway the opinions of jurors and society.

    My favorite fiction lawyer to study is Alan Shore from the show Boston Legal.

    If you’re looking for a master swipe file of objection countering phraseology… look no further than great screen plays of lawyer movies or t.v. shows.

    There’s gold in this writing.

    Note Taking Nerd #2

  3. Bob Bly said:

    In a related story, German billionaire Adolf Merckle killed himself because, his family says, the economic crisis had “broken” him.

    Though his fortune had declined from $12.8 billion in 2007, he still had a net worth of $9.2 billion.

    I wish my fortune would decline to that….

  4. Ken Norkin - freelance copywriter said:

    Returning to the title of this post and discussion, there is no redundancy at all.

    Prompt means the investigation will begin soon, without delay.

    Swift means the investigation will proceed and be concluded quickly.

    One is time, the other is speed.

    Related, but not redundant.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Ken: I do not agree. If the resolution of the problem is swift, that necessitates that it begin promptly. Therefore you do not need to add swift to prompt.

  6. Kristi Holl said:

    As the mother of several teens who never started a paper promptly, but were always swift and turned them in on time, I have to agree with Ken. My teens were not prompt to get busy, but once they started (usually 24 hours before the deadline) they moved VERY swiftly. Just my opinion!
    Kristi Holl
    Writer’s First Aid blog

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