TM&Th blog
Jean-luc Doumont
Preventing crimes before they happen

Examples of ineffective redundancy in text abound out there,
but here is one that I could not ignore as I was finding my way
to the baggage claim at O'Hare airport in Chicago last week;
this ad by IBM indeed displayed its statement in huge letters:

Data help prevent crimes before they happen

Can you prevent anything after it happens? I didn't think so.

Along the same line, an airport health alert about H1N1 flu
warns that children, elderly people, and a few other groups
“may be at higher risk for severe illness”. Why the may be?
This statement says that it is not sure whether these people
are at higher risk (i.e., that there is a risk of a higher risk).
Perhaps this is an accurate scientific statement, of course,
but as long as we are not quoting specific probability values,
we can compound the two risks and thus write more simply
that children and others “are at higher risk for severe illness”.

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