We writer-types don’t mean to find mistakes in every single thing we read — well, ok, sometimes we do, but not all the time. It’s true, it’s true, that sometimes we look for and take great pleasure in finding others’ mistypes, but a lot of times we don’t. Sometimes we just want to consume the information. Sometimes, though, we just can’t help it. Some things are so glaringly “bad” they scream at us, begging us to notice.
Like these sentences from an email I received today from my son’s school:
“You should expect to find announcements in your inbox each morning. However if there are no announcements to be made then I will not be sending anything out.”
You don’t need to tell me you won’t be sending me announcements if there are no announcements to send because, uh, if there are no announcements the fact that there is nothing to send means you have nothing to send. See why that declaration was unnecessary?
I do agree with the unnecessary statement, however. Seriously — thank you, thank you, thank you for not emailing me “There are no announcements today” because then the announcement that there are no announcements becomes an announcement which means there really is an announcement but since the announcement is that there aren’t any … see what I mean? That gets complicated.
A pet peeve to this writer is redundancy and wasted words. It’s most certainly my newspaper background that made me this way because in newspapers space is precious. I’d start out the morning with a whopping 33-inch story for a 20-inch hole — eliminating redundant information left more room for the good stuff. The one I remember being drilled into me in J-school was the redundancy of “located at.” You don’t need the word “located.”
The accident was located at the corner of First and Lincoln.
The accident was at the corner of First and Lincoln.
See, it reads just fine without “located,” doesn’t it? And I saved myself 8 characters to better use for something else.
You are only allotted so many words in life, I say. Don’t use them all in one place. Or stupidly. Or unnecessarily.