One of my pet peeves as a reader, writer, and conversationalist is redundant expressions. Over the years I’ve accumulated a mental list of some of the more annoying redundancies. When I realized my list had grown to about ten I knew it was time to post a top-ten list, so here it is. Some are very common, while others are not. If you are guilty of using any of these, please know that, yes, I am judging you. But I am not rejecting you as a person. I simply want to call you to linguistic repentance. And, of course, this also constitutes an invitation for you to alert me to any such transgressions in my own writing or speaking.
10. “Component parts” — All parts are components.
9. “Rise up” / “Raise up” — To rise is to move up.
8. “ATM Machine” — Unpack the abbreviation and you get “automatic teller machine machine.” U2 uses this phrase in their song “Moment of Surrender,” and the line spoils the mood for me every time I hear it.
7. “Answer back” / “Respond back” — To answer or respond is to communicate “back” to someone.
6. “Completely annihilate” — Its hard to imagine anything more “complete” than annihilation. When I hear someone use this phrase, its tempting to suggest that the event to which they refer was only a “partial annihilation.”
5. “Please R.S.V.P.” — The French phrase for which “R.S.V.P.” stands is répondez s’il vous plaît, which means “please reply.” I suppose one could claim that their use of the phrase is not a redundancy so much as a double emphasis, as in “please, please reply.” Nice try.
4. “I remembered in my mind” — It amazes me how often I hear this. I want to say, “Where else could one remember something?”
3. “Past history” — The appalling thing about this one is how frequently it is uttered by academics. Shame, shame, shame.
2. “Don’t be unnecessarily redundant” — This is not a common redundancy. In fact, it appears to be unique to a particular occasion, according to a friend of mine. What puts it so high on this list is the context in which it was used: A high school teacher said it when correcting one of her students.
1. “Added bonus” — If I hear this one more time, I think my head might explode…thus spreading the component parts of my head all over my living room…or perhaps completely annihilating me altogether.