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Giving birth
Posted: 23 April 2018 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]
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"LONDON — Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday morning at the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s hospital, the same place where she had her other two children, according to Kensington Palace. Her husband, Prince William, 35, was by her side.”

One wonders if a royal, or any other mom, has ever given birth to an adolescent boy or girl.  At least WaPo didn’t describe the newcomer as little. {/peeve}

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Posted: 24 April 2018 01:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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"birth to a boy” is about twice as common in AmE as"birth to a baby boy” and about three times as common in BrE according to Google ngrams.  So it’s not that uncommon.  I would be surprised to see the addition of “baby” in a headline but not in copy.

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Posted: 24 April 2018 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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But Google ngrams shows that since 1960 the use of birth to a baby boy has been growing at a much faster rate than birth to a boy.

BYU’s Corpus of Contemporary American English (covering 1990-present) shows them at about even, with 33 hits for birth to a boy and 30 for birth to a baby boy.

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Posted: 24 April 2018 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It is not a function of language to be maximally efficient.  “Omit needless words” is one of the many stupid injunctions in Strunk and White’s annoying little book.

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Posted: 24 April 2018 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It is not a function of language to be maximally efficient.  “Omit needless words” is one of the many stupid injunctions in Strunk and White’s annoying little book.

Languagehat, you can’t blame that tenet on Strunk and White, almost every book on grammar and writing advises one to avoid wordiness, as they also advise on not using a “five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”

You could blame it on Hemingway.

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Posted: 24 April 2018 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Languagehat, you can’t blame that tenet on Strunk and White

Yes I can, because that’s what everyone quotes it from.  If people stopped handing that book out like candy to everyone entering or leaving high school and pretending it’s the Bible of Good Writing, the world would be a better place.

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Posted: 24 April 2018 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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How “efficient” one wants to be depends largely on the genre. Redundancy in spoken discourse is (usually) a feature, not a bug. Likewise, in creative works concision is not necessarily to be prized. But in edited, expository prose, you (usually) want to be concise. Give birth to a baby boy is a tad too redundant, even for speech. But that said, it’s very far from the worst thing you could write.

The problem with the omit needless words dictum is not the principle, but that thoughtless writers and editors apply it too stringently and without regard to context. They trim away words that really are necessary or that may not be strictly necessary to get the message across but add character and flavor to the prose.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 02:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Complainers about the addition of the word baby also seem to be under the impression that redundancy is a bug of language. It is not a bug; it’s a feature.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Eh, this seems like a fairly harmless and commonplace piece of redundancy. Alliteration is fun, and you double your number of Bs by inserting baby.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Give birth to a baby boy is a tad too redundant, even for speech.

Seriously?  It sounds completely unexceptional to me; I’ll bet if you go to a maternity ward you’ll hear it a dozen times a day.  I fear you may have been Strunked.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I agree.  This is right up there with “PIN number” as a grounds for peeving.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Alliteration is fun, and you double your number of Bs by inserting baby.

People often say “beautiful baby boy”?

Amazon had a poster to announce a “beautiful bouncing baby boy” Sorry, they are sold out.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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"Baby girl” and “baby boy” sound warm and cuddly. Leaving “baby” out of it feels sort of cold and clinical.

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Posted: 25 April 2018 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Let’s not confuse redundancy with wordiness. Melville beautifully and meticulously transcribed two pages of dialogue fleshing out Captain Ahab’s physical characteristics in Moby Dick as did Sheridan Le Fanu with Uncle Silas and as all writers did with all those classics.

Redundancies, such as: 12 midnight, (midnight) 12 noon,(noon) Biography of his life, (biography) close proximity( proximity) free gift, (gift) ad infinitum, can be easily avoided and eliminated without affecting creative works.

FWIW: Below is a link to literary sentence lengths in English prose.

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/3602/is-there-a-historical-trend-towards-shorter-sentences

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Posted: 25 April 2018 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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languagehat - 25 April 2018 05:57 AM

Give birth to a baby boy is a tad too redundant, even for speech.

Seriously?  It sounds completely unexceptional to me; I’ll bet if you go to a maternity ward you’ll hear it a dozen times a day.  I fear you may have been Strunked.

Sounds fine to me too, Language without redundancy would be a joyless thing. As the monarch of redundancy gave Lear to say, O reason not the need.

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Posted: 26 April 2018 02:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Logophile - 25 April 2018 11:04 AM


Redundancies, such as: 12 midnight, (midnight) 12 noon,(noon) Biography of his life, (biography) close proximity( proximity) free gift, (gift) ad infinitum, can be easily avoided and eliminated without affecting creative works.

I’d go along with all of these as redundancies except close proximity.  Something in close proximity can be closer than something merely in proximity.  Of those that I would agree are redundant only free gift comes even close to bothering me but then it’s almost never found outside of advertising and generally is only used in reference to something that is technically not free, since certain other things must happen for one to receive it.

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