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story.lead_photo.caption (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY)

Maybe this happens to you, too. You try not to think about work while you're taking a vacation. But work-related things find you as efficiently as a drone might.

I suspect people who work in bookstores find themselves straightening books in shops where they're not employed. Real-estate agents might peek at housing prices in cities they visit. And if you're a murder detective on TV, each time you travel to another city, a person you know is killed or is a suspect in a killing. (And you solve the case.)

Redundancies were the main things that jumped out at me in the past couple of weeks.

One commercial promised that applying for a program was "both simple and easy." I hate those processes that are "simple and difficult" or "hard and easy."

One education course offered financial aid to "eligible students who qualify." Isn't an eligible student the same as one who qualifies?

I've heard people casually described as gourmet chefs. Would you want a non-gourmet chef to cook a meal for you?

My favorite term lately is "visual artist," which apparently covers arts that we see. These include painting, drawing, design, photography and ceramics. When you hear someone is an artist, you think of art you can see, don't you? So the term visual artist makes an already vague term even vaguer. I don't think that's a good thing.

So maybe we should start calling writers "textual artists." And musicians "auditory artists."

Wait, those terms provide too much information. Maybe "mental artists" and "sensory artists" are better phrases.

Another fun phrase is "past history."

History is something that has happened in the past. You can study it, you can learn from it, but you cannot move history to the future, no matter what. So just call it "history."

One headline read: Democrats woo labor with promises, past history

Part of a news article was: "I hope that this is a solution," Smith said after the hearing. "But given the past history, there well may be more steps needed."

"Past" isn't needed in either case.

The same goes for "past experience." Experience is something you gained in the past.

"But what is new — and telling — to us is that so much of the growth in the lobbying world comes from people with past experience working within the federal government."

Future experience probably is not as desirable in this situation.

Wrong: The calculus instructor had no past experience teaching welding.

Right: The calculus instructor had no experience teaching welding.

Can you guess how many suspects send police on "high-speed chases"? That's pretty much the nature of a chase. It goes fast.

A kidnapping suspect took California police on a high-speed chase in Malibu before giving himself up.

OK, not every chase is high speed. Remember June 17, 1994, when the slow chase with O.J. Simpson and police captivated so many TV viewers?

Many police cars followed the white Ford Bronco in a 60-mile, low-speed chase through southern Los Angeles. But that pace was an anomaly.

A friend alerted me to a line in a story that made her laugh. It mentioned "lesbian women." Lesbian men were not in the story, and I think it's obvious why.

Missing hyphens jumped out at me recently, too. Apparently things that are absent can be just as intrusive.

Here's one headline:

Gun carrying teen arrested by police

As written, it sounds as if the gun carried a teen, and that gun was then arrested.

Gun-carrying teen arrested by police.

That makes more sense.

Ice cream shop looking for lost ring owner

Is the ring lost or is the owner lost? It needs one little hyphen.

Ice cream shop looking for lost-ring owner

Seven men arrested in Internet crimes against children sting

This needs more than one hyphen. It sounds as if the seven men use their stingers.

Seven men arrested in Internet-crimes-against-children sting


And readers emailed me two probably unintentional typos.

One saw this sign:

Restrooms are for costumers only.

I hate when I need to find a restroom, and I haven't remembered to wear my costume.

And one reader noticed the sale of piece of furniture called "chester draws." I don't know who this Chester is or what he draws, but I'd much rather keep my clothes in a chest of drawers.

Source: University of Michigan, Washington Post, CNN, many Virginia newspapers

Style on 04/01/2019

Print Headline: Vacations don't stop word cop


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