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Pet peeves #1. Nobody likes redundancy


An occasional series, dating all the way back to this morning, in which we pillory linguistic irritants.

Given the unwanted prominence that the recondite acronym has achieved in the last couple of weeks, people who wouldn’t recognise a LIBOR if it kicked them firmly in the shins have been referring to “the LIBOR rate”. Look here, all you media prats who pontificate about things you don’t (and never will) understand, LIBOR is an acronym for London Inter-Bank Offered Rate. So, do tell us please: what the hell is a rate rate?

Similarly, we have the fatuous redundancy of: “please enter your PIN number”. PIN = Personal identification number.

In an automotive, as opposed to œnological, context, the VIN is the Vehicle identification number. People will frequently talk of  “the VIN number”.

Every book published has an ISBN, an International Standard Book Number, to identify publisher and title – and, boy, they were a pain in the gluteus maximus to work out by hand in the bad old days. I used to do 20-30-40 at a time, just so that I could get into the groove and wouldn’t have to bother again for a while. It’s not an “ISBN number”!

And finally, no discussion of redundancy in language would be complete without reference to baseball; more particularly baseball in California, and specifically in Anaheim, home of the LA Angels. I am shamelessly pitching for a modestly improved approval rating from my sons by posting last week’s Tweet from one of their heroes: the astrophysicist, science communicator, clear-eyed sceptic and all-round vrai bon œuf, Neil deGrasse Tyson:


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