Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The unnecessary necessary

I've been at a writing course the last two days. The teacher was generally good, quite understanding and not *too boring. Today I did find myself in a rather contentious mood though. He was telling us about unneccesary words. Example: "We will take all necessary measures." Or "I'll give you the relevant information." Or, "We'll take appropriate actions", "Use suitable headings", "Give a gentle reminder", "This is strictly confidential."

His reasoning: You're expected not to take unneccesary measures, give irrelevant information, take inappropriate actions, use unsuitable headings, give harsh reminders, or observe loose confidentiality. That's why all those words are useless.

But I disagree! True, it doesn't make for perfect English. But these words help you to reassure people!
Still, he probably means a general case and all that, so let's just take it that I was feeling antsy. Anyway, he went on to ask, "Anyone else have any other examples they want to add?"

I flirted very long with the idea of saying,
"Yes I do! When you ask if anyone else has any examples to add, you're obviously asking the class and not yourself. Therefore, 'anyone have any examples to add?' is enough. 'Else', 'other', and 'they want' are all unnecessary!"

Managed to control myself though. Probably half the class would just have assessed accurately that I was trying to be a smartass.

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