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The Madera Tribune

Burning embers of redundancy

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webmaster | 10/19/13

A Friday radio report on a crime in Fresno happened to mention that the investigation was “still ongoing.”

Of course it is, I thought. An investigation by definition is ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, it becomes a report. The word “ongoing” is what grammarians call a redundancy; you don’t need it. One often hears the phrase “ongoing threat.” Well, whatever the threat is ongoing all by itself until is ceases to be a threat. That is how threats are. They are bad enough as they are. They don’t need redundant verbiage to make them worse.

That’s also the case with “true facts.” Would there be false facts? If a statement is true, it is a fact. If it isn’t proved to be true, it is an assertion. An example of an assertion is the phrase “hardworking people.” I hear politicians all the time referring to “hardworking Americans” without any actual evidence to verify that assertion. Most Americans probably don’t work any harder than they have to. That would be me. In fact, no small number of them may be lazy bums who slide by, as barflies or couch potatoes in front of their TVs.

How about brutal murders? Are there any gentle murders? Perhaps brutal murders are committed by murderers using dangerous weapons. Aren’t weapons by definition dangerous? Otherwise, why bother with them? (Perhaps safe weapons, would be used for gentle murders.)

How about planning for the future? Do you know anybody who plans for the past?

When you “kneel down” to say your prayers or scrub the floors, you don’t need the “down.” Would you kneel up?

We often hear of burning embers (“burning embers started the house fire” or “burning embers of love”). But embers by definition have to be burning, or they aren’t embers.

Enough, already. These redundancies are getting to be redundant.


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