Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Avoiding redundancy (2)

We’ve talked before about avoiding redundancy in order to achieve clear writing. Here’s another example. Yesterday, Conviva issued a press release that included this sentence:

“Since its founding in 1978, the firm [New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA), one of Conviva’s investors] … has followed the same core principles: supporting its entrepreneurs, providing an excellent return to its limited partners, and practicing its profession with the highest standards and respect.” (Boldface added.)

The use of core as an adjective is not widely accepted by careful writers. However, in this case, the reader can accurately guess the writer’s meaning: because the noun core refers to the essence of something, the adjective core must mean essential.

But a principle is essential by definition. It is an essential law, rule, policy, truth, assumption or quality. So, by modifying principle with core, the writer absurdly implies that there are such things as non-core (non-essential) principles. This usage confuses the reader.

The Takeaway: As you edit your drafts, be alert for every redundancy that may confuse your readers: core principles is a popular redundancy, as are crisis situation, first introduction, new innovation and many more.

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