Saturday, November 27, 2004

What the Heck is a Pleonastic Redundancy?

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to talk about redundancy. Not quite like the one in the title of this article (a pleonasm is another word for redundancy, so the title is a pleonasm, get it?). The redundancies I'll be griping about today are those frequently misused with acronyms, initials and abbreviations.

Now, I'm a sensitive guy with more than my share of foibles, quirks and idiosyncrasies (look 'em up). For that reason I tend to be tolerant of the flaws and failings of others. So when I hear someone refer to an "ATM machine", for instance, I usually resist the urge to remind them that ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine, so what they are actually referring to is an Automated Teller Machine machine. That of course makes sense to no one, save for my friends who stutter.

Even the people who make ATMs are guilty; witness or

Likewise, I'm reluctant to chastise my associates when they speak of having too many Personal Identification Number numbers or "PIN numbers".

I know part of the problem is that people are inundated with so many acronyms and initials that they seldom think about the myriad of meanings of this avalanche of abbreviations.

I am less forgiving, however, when these syntactic sins are committed in print. When news sites, from The Guardian (UK) and The Taipei (Taiwan) Times to The Daily Nebraskan and The Bradford County (FL) Telegraph refer knowingly to "PIN numbers", my diastolic number creeps up like the mercury in August.

On medical issues, why do so many otherwise apparently intelligent folks speak of the HIV virus. Guess what the V in HIV is. You got it. The dubious construction, Human Immunodeficiency Virus virus, is found so often I no longer cringe at the sight of it. I mean, I can almost understand it from The Xinhua China News, as that country has been slow to acknowledge the severity of the disease, but The San Francisco Examiner!? The New Scientist!? C'mon people!

This pleonastic problem has even spread into the tech community, where you'd think there would be a superior understanding of acronym usage. If you have a LAN, you have a Local Area Network. So there would be no need to write "LAN network", would there? Well, tell that to, of all companies, Cisco and ComputerWorld.

And finally, if you're interested in one of those new monitors, you know, with the Liquid Crystal Display display, you can buy one from or check out the new "DoubleSight" LCDD at which, ironically, claims to offer "stuff for smart masses".

I guess that's enough griping for one day. Time to shut down my PC computer and head to bed ASAP possible.


At November 29, 2004 6:39 PM, Blogger invadesoda said...

Glad you're back.

At March 01, 2005 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You tell 'em!

At August 05, 2005 7:30 PM, Anonymous PeterPatnter said...

Thx for your thoughts on pleonastic redundancy, but what is an acromyn?

At August 08, 2005 3:06 PM, Blogger silas prophet said...

Whoa, is my face tight. I can't believe no one caught that until now. Thanks Peter.



Post a Comment

<< Home