Literary Discourse: Verbosity: Error of Style

Introduction
The primary objective of communication is to express a thought NOT to impress an audience. Therefore, comprehension overrides sophistication in language use. While simplicity in language leads to comprehension, complexity may lead to stylistic and structural problems. Certainly, one of these problems is VERBOSITY. For this reason, we need to revise our notes on the stylistic weakness that may arise also from recklessness or unawareness.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this tutorial, fellow learners and readers should be able to:

  • Identify Verbosity in Sentences
  • Avoid Verbosity in Communication

Definition
VERBOSITY is simply the use of more words than necessary to express a thought. It is the noun form of the adjective “VERBOSE” which, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary , suggests “lack of incisiveness or precision.” VERBOSE is a synonym of the following words: REDUNDANT, CIRCUITOUS , CIRCUMLOCUTORY , DIFFUSE , GARRULOUS , LOGORRHEIC , LONG-WINDED , PLEONASTIC , PROLIX , RAMBLING , and WINDY . TAUTOLOGY is the simplest word related to VERBOSITY.

Sample of verbose sentences
Let us consider the following sentences:

  • Wunnam is a lawyer BY PROFESSION.
  • Chantiwuni tries to disabuse OUR MINDS of dependency mentality.
  • Suhudoo did not eat, but RATHER he drunk water.
  • We have come to the FINAL conclusion of the project.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, please, remain seated until the aircraft comes to a COMPLETE FINAL stop.
  • IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, I think Chalpang is a serious student.
  • Sheikh Ahmed Rufai Abubakar presented a FREE gift to his brother, who is an OLD veteran journalist.
  • The reason WHY Tiyumtaba does not want to write the exam is BECAUSE OF inadequate preparation.

All the words and phrases in UPPERCASE in the above sentences amount to verbosity and rob the sentences of grammatical beauty. This assertion is justified in the following analyses:

Analysis
Let us analyze the sentences in question one after the other to verify the claim of VERBOSITY and maximize our chances of avoiding it in communication.

  • Wunnam is a lawyer by profession.

To be a lawyer is to belong to the legal profession. Certainly, Wunnam cannot be a lawyer by Religion or Politics. Therefore, the phrase “by profession” is needless. In effect, the correct sentence should be: “Wunnam is a lawyer.”

  • Chantiwuni tries to disabuse our minds of dependency mentality.

“Disabuse” is a transitive verb meaning to persuade someone that an idea or belief is mistaken (Oxford Dictionary of English, 2015). In simple language, “disabuse” implies to free a person’s mind from fallacy, misconception, or error. By implication, “mind” is part of the semantic properties of the word “disabuse.” It is, therefore, unnecessary to bring the word “mind” when using “disabuse.” The sentence can be corrected by replacing “our minds” with “us”: “Chantiwuni tries to disabuse us of dependency mentality.”

  • Suhudoo did not eat, but RATHER he drunk water.

“But” and “rather” are both devices of contrast. So, one of them is enough in this sentence. The correct sentence should either be “Suhudoo did not eat, but he drunk water” or “Suhudoo did not eat; he rather drunk water.”

  • We have come to the FINAL conclusion of the project.

Every finality is a conclusion. So, “final conclusion” is ridiculous verbiage. The sentence can be revised as: “We have come to the conclusion of the project.”

  • Ladies and gentlemen, please, remain seated until the aircraft comes to a COMPLETE FINAL stop.

“Stop” implies termination of movement or operation. So, “complete” and “final” which are even synonymous are needless to qualify “stop” in this context. We can correct the sentence by deleting the unnecessary adjectives “complete” and “final”: “Ladies and gentlemen, please, remain seated until the aircraft comes to a stop.”

  • IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, I think Chalpang is a serious student.

Your thought is your personal opinion. Therefore, the phrase “in my personal opinion” in the sentence under review is needless. The sentence can be corrected in any of the following ways: “I think Chalpang is a serious student” or “in my opinion, Chalpang is a serious student.”

  • Sheikh Ahmed Rufai Abubakar presented a FREE gift to his brother, who is an OLD veteran journalist.

Every gift is free, and every veteran is old. For that matter, “free gift” and “old veteran” are evidence of verbosity. We simply correct the sentence by eliminating the unnecessary intensifiers “free” and “old”: “Sheikh Ahmed Rufai Abubakar presented a gift to his brother, who is a veteran journalist.”

  • The reason WHY Tiyumtaba does not want to write the exam is BECAUSE OF inadequate preparation.

The words “reason”, “why”, and “because” have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably. Indeed, in this context, bringing all of them to express one thought rather paints an amusing picture of redundancy. The sentence can be corrected in the following ways:

  • The reason Tiyumtaba does not want to write the exam is inadequate preparation.
  • Why Tiyumtaba does not want to write the exam is inadequate preparation.
  • Tiyumtaba does not want to write the exam because of inadequate preparation.

Conclusion
Summing up, we humbly state that in some literary genres such as poetry and other forms of fiction, verbosity may be employed to achieve certain rhetorical effects. Besides, some professions may demand verbosity as an effective tool of delivery and success. For instance, a lawyer may employ verbosity in court in an effort to win a case, and a teacher may resort to verbosity as a means of emphasis to enhance learner comprehension. In addition, verbosity could be a strong rhetorical weapon in debate and other types of Public Speaking. However, verbosity is generally undesirable unless its application is contextually justified.

References
Oxford Dictionary of English. (2015). London: Oxford University Press.

Portner, P., & Barbara, H. P. (eds.). (2002). Formal semantics: the essential readings. Oxford: Blackwell.

Sekyi-Baidoo, Y. (2002). Semantics: an introduction . Kumasi: Willas Press Ltd.

Webster’s New World College Dictionary . (2010). Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc

By Abubakar Mohammed Marzuq Azindoo, Coordinator of Students and University Relations, University of Applied Management (UAM), Germany – Ghana Campus, McCarthy Hill, Accra and Tamale

Email: [email protected] Tel: 0244755402


More General News »


Comments:
This article has 0 comment, leave your comment.

Comments