This business of writing about not-so-serious things is growing on me. I think I’ll try to stretch it out a little longer before we return to our regularly scheduled program. Because really? The chaos storm is ever raging and it’s nice to write about something else for a change.
Let’s turn our attention to the worldwide scourge of repetitious redundancies. That’s right; I’m talking to you, all of you who like to say things twice when once will do.
Let’s start with the most obvious offenders: the acronym repeaters.
- PIN Number – Tell me, are people unaware that what they are really saying is “personal identification number number?” It’s just a PIN. Yes, it’s a short word. If that bothers you, feel free to call it a personal identification number.
- VIN Number – See above, except replace “personal” with “vehicle.”
- ATM Machine – An ATM is an automatic teller machine. You’ve got all the necessary descriptors right there in those three little letters. Why complicate matters?
- Please generalize this rule. I used to work in the Writing and Reading Assistance Center, called WRAC. Every time someone called it the WRAC Center, my teeth started to sweat a little. I doubt you want to be responsible for anyone’s sweaty teeth.
- There’s a big river here. As such, the Spaniards named it the Rio Grande. Rio = river; grande = big. To call it the Rio Grande River marks you as a flatlander and a newcomer.
- Avenida and paseo both roughly translate to avenue, so you don’t need to say “Paseo del Norte Road” or “Avenida Cesar Chavez Street.” If you are visiting my little corner of the globe, I’ll totally forgive you. If you’ve lived here longer than six months? For shame!
- Past history – Is there some other kind of history to talk about? I mean, the time we’re in now will, at some time, be the future, and technically this, now, will be history, so we could be living present history. I’m guessing, though, that that wasn’t the intended distinction.
- Here’s a nice corollary: Future prediction. Yeah, if you predict something in the past or the present, that’s pretty much useless and I can’t see why you’d bother.
- Hot water heater – If it’s hot, why are you heating it? Acceptable terms: hot water tank, or water heater. Never the twain shall meet. Please. You don’t put toast in the toaster, do you?
- Did you just tell me that you’ll be here at 9 am in the morning? Are you planning to go to dinner at 7 pm this evening? You DO know what am and pm mean, right? Because the morning and evening parts are already in there.