1

The headline I came across with is:

Elephants could have become dwarf size on the island off Italy’s boot in as little as 40 generations, according to new research.

isn't "dwarf size" redundant? If dwarf by definition is short in size/stature? Is this redundancy acceptable grammar?

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  • 1
    It's not redundant. If the entire population were of that size, then none of them would suffer from being abnormally small. Jul 2 at 13:36
  • 3
    I'm curious how you think it should have ben phrased. To just say "Elephants could have become dwarf on the island" would be ungrammatical and unclear. To say "Elephants could have become dwarfs on the island" is grammatically correct, but doesn't quite convey the same meaning.
    – stangdon
    Jul 2 at 13:57
5

It's not redundant because dwarfism is a medical condition in many species that includes both short stature and also a variety of medical concerns and changes.

To indicate that these elephants are small but do not have other conditions associated with dwarfism, both words can be used.

0

I think that you are looking for the adjectival form of "dwarf", which is "dwarven".

Elephants could have become dwarf-size(d) on the island off Italy’s boot in as little as 40 generations, according to new research.

OR

Elephants could have become dwarven on the island off Italy’s boot in as little as 40 generations, according to new research.

I would call it redundant, in a way, because almost anyone could interpret "dwarven" or "dwarf-like" to be heavily connotated with stature just as are the words "giant", "colossal", "leviathan".

Nonetheless, it most surely is grammatical, and redundancy is almost always okay when it comes down to connotative distinctions. Your original form was using "dwarf size" as a double noun adjunct, another example of such being "chicken noodle" as used in "chicken noodle soup". When nouns act as adjectives, they are called "noun adjuncts". I call them adjunctive nouns, though.

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