Kill This Word

A Memo from the Department of Redundancy Department 

proofreader

What’s wrong with this picture? “Currently” wasn’t deleted.

Perhaps things have changed since I retired from the newspaper business. Back then we considered “is” a present tense verb. If Gornall is out on bond, Gornall is out on bond. Period.

Yet, for reasons known only to them, writers and copyeditors insist on the redundant use of the word “currently.” You can’t pick up a newspaper without reading redundancies such as “Joe Blow currently is working at the DuSchnozzel Corporation.”

Nothing against writers or copyeditors. But, if you really want to save space, kill this word.

An argument could be made in the Gornall case that, perhaps by the time the reader picked up the paper, Gornall’s bond had been revoked and he was back in jail. But that would be a stretch. A reader would naturally assume that the writer meant Gornall was out on bond at the time the story was written.

Offhand, I can think of only one instance in which “current” would be necessary to clarify a sentence with a present tense verb. When I was a statehouse correspondent in the mid 1990s, we routinely reported on legislation amending existing law. In that case, it was helpful to specify what was being changed by saying “under current law.”

OK, I’m currently off my soapbox for now.

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