Redundancy at Achenblog!

Joel Achenbach's blog at the Washington Post is an occasional read. He's smart and funny. But this entry contains an egregious blunder, referring to a recent column by George Will (referenced below):

You have to love Will: No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier, and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

I thought that was extremely clever wordplay … for about a minute, then realized there was less there than met the eye. Precisely half as much, in fact.

Suppose we have a graph expressing multisyllabosity versus gutsiness. (Or should that be "multisyllabaciousness"? Never mind.) We'll arbitrarily rate both quantities on a zero-to-twenty scale, because 20 is the first number I thought of:

[Will One]

Let's, again arbitrarily, give George a score of 10 on both quantities:

[Will Two]

We could put other columnists on there, but that would be invidious.

That allows us to divide Punditdom into four regions, which we will pretentiously label with roman numerals:

[Will Three]

So in region I are the pundits who are more multi-syllabic but less gutsy than Will; inhabitants of region II are more multi-syllabic and more gutsy; region III holds the less-gutsy short-worded wimps, and region IV contains monosyllabic gutsier-than-George knuckle-draggers.

Now when Joel says

No one more multi-syllabic is gutsier …

that's the same as saying there's no pundit in region II of the graph. And when he says:

… and no one gutsier is more multi-syllabic.

that's, well, also saying there's nobody in region II. Hence, redundant, and unworthy of a professional writer.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 6:23 AM EST