Column: Raising awareness for RAS Syndrome


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

I have some urgent news: There’s an epidemic sweeping the nation. So far, scientists haven’t found a cure, but I’m happy to report that it’s preventable. It leaves people looking foolish in front of other people they’re trying to impress at parties and can, in rare cases, cause a breakup of a romantic relationship. I’m talking about RAS Syndrome.

RAS Syndrome stands for Redundant Acronym Syndrome … Syndrome. While everyone knows that saying “ATM machine” is redundant, have you ever talked to someone about forgetting your “PIN number” every time you’re at the ATM? PIN already stands for Personal Identification Number, so saying “PIN number” is redundant. You don’t want to look like a doofus in front of your financial planner! He’ll remove you from his preferred-monocle client list faster than you can say IRA account.

Does your new TV have an LCD display? Because that’s redundant as well. So is saying DC Comics—DC already stands for “Detective Comics,” although the only situation in which you’d be shamed for that redundancy is probably the Comic-Con convention.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this one: “Yeah, go ahead and send me that logo in a PDF format.” PDF stands for Portable Document Format. The only thing that would make that more redundant would be if you said, “Please send that logo file over in a PDF format for Matt.”

Although I’m sure you mean to be polite, writing “please RSVP” on an invitation is technically redundant— RSVP is an abbreviation for the French expression répondez s’il vous plaît, which means “please respond.” Saying “please RSVP” is the same as saying “please, please respond.” After all, you don’t want to sound desperate to get people to your fancy roof party.

I’m not sure if an entire sports team can contract RAS Syndrome, but, if it did, it would be the “LA Angels.” When translated into English, Los Angeles means “The Angels.” So, technically, “the LA Angels” is the same as saying “the The Angels Angels.”

Now, for the lightning round. If you utter any of the following phrases, you’ve caught the RAS Syndrome: ISBN number, UPC code, HIV virus, GOP party, SAT test, PAC committee, Gob Bluth, NPR radio, CSS sheet and OPEC countries. By preventing RAS Syndrome in your speech and correspondence, you’ll avoid looking dumb in social, business and romantic situations.