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Nancy Nall

I welcome you in this lonely quest to stamp out this irritating redundancy. Now, onward to "the fact that!"


I suspect it's because they want to write "Why Americans are..." but can't figure out how to get that "surprising" in there without adding an extraneous "reason."

(I'm a bit amused that you saw "why" as redundant, while I fixated on "the surprising reason.")


Do you work for the Department of Redundancy Department?


Hey, the first thing I thought of was "The Reason Why" by Cecil Woodham-Smith. I read it the first quarter of my freshman year in college many years ago, it's perhaps the definitive history of the Charge of the Light Brigade. If it's the fact that an eminent historian of Victorian Britain can use the phrase, it's OK with me, redundancy and all.


KLG, Woodham-Smith was playing off of Tennyson's "Theirs not to reason why./Theirs but to do or die..." But eminent though he was, he was still wrong, because in that line "reason" is a verb. He should have titled his book "Reasoning Why".

Warned ya I'm a pompous pedant.

DaveH, that is my job that I am employed to do when I work at the place where I am employed to do the work I do when I do my job.


Duh, Lance, about the Tennyson. Too tired this evening and a little slower on the uptake than usual. And I even have a recording of Tennyson reciting "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (Poetry on Record, highly recommended). It's scratchy but decipherable and pretty damn cool to listen to. Thank you, Thomas Edison. Being an academic type myself, pedantry does have its place...someone has to uphold standards! Drives my students nuts when I insist on the proper terminology. Keep up the good work (and thanks for directing me to Nancy Nall...can't get through the week without her, either). Oh, and BTW, "Cecil" is a girl's name this time, just so you know in the future when you want to recommend her book to someone curious about where Cardigan and Raglan sleeves came from.

Matt Zoller Seitz

David Mamet once described unnecessary exposition as, "Here we go to the bottom of the staircase that we're trying to get to the bottom of."

Captain Obiligatory

The explanation for my having read this was on account of because I thought there might be a good punchline coming.

In view of the fact that inasmuch as there wasn't one, I consequently therefore have nothing of substantial merit, magnitude or significance to add.


"The reason why" might be redundant, but I suspect that it is not wrong, if you define "right" as what most educated people say. Proper English is not determined by a set of logical rules. It's determined by how people speak it. And based on a very crude measure (Google searches for the phrase "the reason why" and "the reason that") it appears that "the reason why" is used about ten times as often as "the reason that."

Captain Obiligatory

Mark indirectly brings up the word "that", which always catches me up.

Is it proper to say "the reason I'm a pedantic ass" or "the reason *that* I'm a pedantic ass"?

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