Why Do We Use Each and Every Redundant Phrase?
I was in an airport recently waiting to board a flight when I heard a public address announcement that went something like this “In just a few minutes we’ll be ready to board WestJet flight 3274 with service off to Saskatoon.” “Off to Saskatoon” I thought? Why didn’t she say “With service to Saskatoon”? What was the need for the extra word?
Minutes later there was another announcement. It was similar, but this time they used the term “over to”, as in WestJet service “Over to Vancouver.” Obviously “WestJet service to Vancouver” was all that was needed to explain where the flight was headed. The word “over” was unnecessary.
As I started to board my flight I thought about other words that get put into everyday conversation and we don’t notice them. The phrase "each and every" is a favourite of mine. After getting into my seat I jotted down a list of extra words and phrases that many people hear and use on a daily basis. They’ve become used so often we don’t even think about how silly they sound.
Often Times We Say Often Times
I watch a lot of sports and a phrase that has crept into normal conversation between play-by-play announcers and colour analysts is “often times”, as in “Often times when a pitcher has a full count on a hitter…..” This irks me. There is absolutely no reason for the word “times” to be included in this phrase. Saying “Often when a pitcher has a full count on a hitter” has the same meaning and sounds much cleaner. However I’m beginning to hear people use the phrase “often times” in normal conversation, because what you hear from others can lead to words and phrases that you use.
This is why buzzwords and phrases that were hardly ever used a generation or two ago are now widely used. A couple that come to mind are “Bring to the table” and“ going forward.” When I was a kid phrases like this were never used, but now they’re commonly used in business circles. We continue to see phrases get manufactured, become popular and get ingrained in normal conversation.
The Illusion of Making Something Sound Longer
There should be somebody put in charge of ensuring sports announcers wipe needless words from their jargon. In fact, I would like to volunteer.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we only heard these unnecessary words on television and radio, but they work their way into everyday conversation of some of the millions of people who continually hear them.
The all-time classic is adding the word “long” where it isn’t needed. This can include (but is not limited to) phrases like “all game long”, “all season long”, or “all year long.” Saying “all game”, “all season”, or “all year” mean the same thing.
By the way, I could have used the phrase “exact same thing”, but that too would be redundant. I’m not sure how the “same thing” and the “exact same thing” are different. I also hear the phrase "every single day." The word single isn't necessary.
What we have are cases where people are trying to insert a word or two to what they’re saying to make their words sound stronger. By using the phrase “all game long” it makes it sound as though the length of time is longer than if you just used the words “all game.” Obviously it isn’t. When I hear a jock use the phrase “all game long” I substitute the word “short” because it’s the opposite of long and then say “all game short” out loud. I drive my family nuts.
There’s one more sports classic that I should mention. I’ve heard announcers say things like “He has the best curveball in all of baseball”, or “He has the best pickoff move in all of baseball.” Saying “He has the best curveball in baseball”, or “He has the best pickoff move in baseball” make the same point and are cleaner, but by adding the “all of” makes the statement sound more impressive. Please stop.
The word "now" is a classic because it allows the person using it to add it to the beginning of the sentence or the end. You hear news reporters adding it to the start of a sentence in the following manner - "Now, the Mayor's assistant told me...." Or you can add it to the end of a sentence this way - "I've written this blog for five years now." In either case the word "now" is unnecessary, but yet it's commonly used in both ways.
A Difficult Dilemma
A friend of mine, Adrian Mather noted the other day he heard a baseball colourman use the phrase “good success.” Obviously there’s no other success than good success. You can’t have bad success. I guess you can have “great success” or “exceptional success”, but I think you get my drift.
He also caught another colourman using the phrase “third base bag”. Calling it “third base” would say the same thing.
There’s almost no end to the redundant phrases we hear on a daily basis. Some of them aren’t as obvious as “all game long” and “in all of baseball” but they’re being used all the time and sound silly when you think about them. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Added bonus
- Final outcome
- Past history
- Collaborate together
- End result
- Completely finished
- Basic fundamentals
- Free gift
By the way, did you notice the headline for this section, A Difficult Dilemma? I was testing you to see if you’re starting to catch these things. Obviously every dilemma is a difficult one, or it wouldn’t be a dilemma.
Why Do We Do This?
It’s interesting that we are seeing more of these redundant phrases used in the media and our personal lives. When we speak, it’s easy to throw in words because it really doesn’t require any extra work. When we write, we learn to edit, to a certain degree, as we go along. This results in us eliminating additional words and phrases because when we do it saves time and effort. For the vast majority of people sitting at a keyboard and writing a blog like this, using fewer words in a good thing because it’s easier.
Since far more people are writing than a generation or two ago because of technology and social media, I find it interesting that in verbal conversations we seem to be going the other way and adding additional words. You would think since we’re writing, and editing more as we do, that same skill would transfer to verbal communication as we learn that phrases like “over to” and “off to” can be replaced with the word “to” but apparently not.
When you “write down” your thoughts, make sure to “plan ahead”, so you don’t have to “revert back” to your old ways.
What added words and redundant phrases irk you so much you need to grit your teeth when you hear them? Please let me know by commenting at the end of this blog.
There will be a “free gift” for the winner.