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A Rose By Any Other Name Isn’t Redundant

A cart. By definition, it has wheels. (image via Amazon)

The email went to about 2500 people in the agency where I work. The author was looking for a utility cart. She and the people in her section must have been fond of this particular cart, as the hint of desperation in the email will attest.

Subject: Missing: CIS Utility Cart w/ wheels

Importance: High

Someone has borrowed our utility cart and has not returned it. It is 2-shelved, silver, with wheels and it has a chain hanging on one end of it. If you are in possession of it, or if you know who might have it, please let me know. We really need this returned asap please.

Some things that describe an item are implied when you mention the item’s name. To say you are looking for an airplane implies the presence of wings. To say you’re looking for a cart with wheels is redundant.

Every Rose…

Purple yam

Roses, or yams, or something (Image via Wikipedia)

Shakespeare wrote that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Sure, I wasn’t there when he wrote it, but then neither were you. We both read somewhere that he wrote it. I hope that can be proof enough for us both.

The message Shakespeare imparted with that line is clear. If you change the name of something, it doesn’t change what it is. If we renamed roses and called them yams, the fact would remain that having a dozen long-stemmed yams delivered would often result in a good night for the sender.

…Has Its Thorn

A lot of people don’t realize that Shakespeare had more to say about what we call things. According to my research, he took the issue of names a little further. In an earlier draft of that famous line, Shakespeare wrote:

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Words still mean something though.

A cart is a cart. A cart without wheels is but a table. A table or maybe, like, a tray or something. Not a cart though.

Plastic tray.

...like, a tray or something. Not a cart though. (Image via Wikipedia)

I think what The Bard was saying is that words have meaning. That implies that when we use a word we mean to imply the totality of that meaning. Highlighting a portion of that meaning by saying what, by definition, is already implicit is redundant.

Monday has dawned for us all. We all have our favorite carts, trays and tables. There are people with their eye on those carts. Be wary. If one of those desperadoes does get your cart, remember to proofread. And always double-check for redundancy. Redundancy and repetitiveness.

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29 Comments on “A Rose By Any Other Name Isn’t Redundant”

  1. Ludakristen says:

    I meant to ask you. Have you seen my TV? The one with the LCD monitor and moving pictures on the front? Let me know.

  2. Laura says:

    I think the author of that email was fixated on the wheels because they’re so central to the story. Without the wheels, the cart would have been more difficult to “borrow”.

  3. Todd Pack says:

    “It’s OK. We’ll get you a new cart.”
    “NO! You don’t understand! Carty was special!”
    “Your cart had a name?”
    “It had THREE names! Carty the Cart! And now he’s gone. Waaaaaaaaa!”

  4. Lenore Diane says:

    Thank you for the clarification. Prior to reading your clarification, I thought nothing of the email. After reading your clarification, I am unable to read the email without laughing. Not sure what it says about me .. Well, I know I’m not a cart.

  5. k8edid says:

    I keep hoping my hubby will bring me a dozen yams – his loss, I guess.

  6. The person sending the email seems to think their precious table with wheels has been borrowed and not stolen. I suggest that they don’t put the cart before the animal with four legs that, generally speaking, looks like Mr. Ed but doesn’t talk like him.

  7. I want to know what the chain was for. Maybe this cart, because it was wheeled, had to be chained up?

  8. KathiD says:

    You said a mouthful. I couldn’t have put that better myself. Very well said. I mean, you expressed this perfectly. I couldn’t agree more. Don’t be redundant. Don’t repeat yourself. Don’t harp on the same thing over and over.

    That’s why I am your faithful reader. With eyes. And a brain.

  9. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Where the hell is this email writer when the cops need her? She has an incredible, eagle eye flair for details. We’d have a lot fewer miscreants and criminals running amok in our communities if we had more people like her being burgled or just standing by watching someone being burgled. Reminds me of an old joke: Married. One child. That didn’t work out, so she married a man. Don’t really know why it reminded me of that at all – I think I got that way via Adam 12.

  10. spencercourt says:

    I see the sender marked it’s importance as “high.” I never did like e-mails with “rating.” High importance to who? The sender? The recipient? Both? And I hate those folks who rate EVERY frigging’ e-mail’s importance as “high.”

    Will one of your polices be that no more than 10% of all e-mails over a week be “high”? If sol, you wouldn’ve won Iowa!

  11. sekanblogger says:

    Duh, yeah. A cart without wheels is a table.

    I have a boss or two who write memos that are just bad.
    One in particular, I always joke that she is from the Department of Redundancy Department….HA!

  12. sekanblogger says:

    Um, they left out the detail that this was a painted cart with grey paint.
    Painted….grey paint. Wheels. Handle. Shelves.

  13. Katybeth says:

    Not all utilities carts are created equal. Perhaps the department has one without a chain, or without wheels, or with only one shelf…you see my point of-course….she wants HER utility cart returned. Give it back and you will feel better.

    On another note I just read this quote and your post reminded me of it…although I am not completely sure why…”How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ~Abraham Lincoln

  14. planetross says:

    I can’t do a cartwheel anymore: I describe my gymastic maneuver as a “cart without wheel”. I haven’t heard back from the Olympic Committee yet for inclusion in the 2012 Olympics Every 4 Years Athletic Sports Games and Activities.

  15. Will you be doing a follow up piece on synecdoche?


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