The Write Stuff

Part and parcel of the package

2004-07-14 13:39

Redundancy and tautology are undesirable, and a sign of less than careful writing. By redundancy we mean the use of words or phrases that add nothing significant to the sense/meaning of a sentence, for example: "I believe we should take greater care of the environment", where "I believe" is unnecessary, since the writer would not write what (s)he did unless (s)he believed it!

Tautology may be seen as a special case of redundancy; for example: "reverse backwards", where "backwards" is implied in the meaning of "reverse". (See "Redundancy", The Witness, April 8, 2003.)

There are, however, some phrases that contain what at first glance may appear to be redundant elements but which, on closer inspection, do add something significant to the whole. I'm thinking of expressions like "each and every", "house and home" and "part and parcel".

The "something significant" that is added may be an element of emphasis. "Each and every one of us . . ." has a more emphatic "feel" than simply "each of us . . ." or "every one of us" and the combination is not, therefore, tautological.

Besides merely effecting emphasis, two seemingly repetitive elements may require each other's presence for the expression as a whole to make any sense at all. Thus "They ate us out of house and home" functions as an alternative way of saying "They ate a lot of (our) food." Omitting either "house" or "home" would leave us with a less than desirable English sentence - "They ate us out of house" and "They ate us out of home" are just not English!

"Part and parcel" looks like a hybrid of the above two examples. While we could omit "(and) parcel" - for example: "The insurance is part of the whole deal" - we could not omit "part" and say "The insurance is parcel of the whole deal."

There is sometimes only a fine line between the use of fixed expressions for effect (whether or not they contain apparently redundant elements) and the sometimes irritating over-use of hackneyed phrases. We should guard against the latter and not emulate (albeit unwittingly) the cartoon character who, when advising his friend on style, told him to avoid clich?s like the plague!

  • Nicky Grieshaber, formerly a university lecturer, is now a translator, text editor, study skills trainer and general entrepreneur.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

    X
    NEXT ON NEWS24X

  • SHARE:

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    0 comments
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Inside News24

     
    /News

    Book flights

    Compare, Book, Fly

    Traffic Alerts
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
     
    English
    Afrikaans
    isiZulu

    Hello 

    Create Profile

    Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


    Please provide a username for your profile page:

    This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

    Settings

    Location Settings

    News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




    Facebook Sign-In

    Hi News addict,

    Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

    Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.