Talk:Tautology (language)  

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Old text from Tautology (grammar)

In grammar, a tautology (from Greek tauto, "the same" and logos, "word/idea") is an unnecessary repetition of meaning, using dissimilar words that effectively say the same thing (often originally from different languages). It is considered a fault of style and was defined by A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (Fowler) as "saying the same thing twice," if it is not apparently necessary for the entire meaning of a phrase to be repeated. An example of a tautology is the phrasing "close proximity". If a part of the meaning is repeated in such a way that it appears as unintentional, or clumsy, then it may be described as tautology. On the other hand, a repetition of meaning which improves the style of a piece of speech or writing is not necessarily described as tautology. In evaluating world views, logicians do not concern themselves that the premises are correct or not, but whether the conclusions derive logically.

Intentional repetition of meaning intends to amplify or emphasize a particular thing about what is being discussed: to repeat it because one cares about it. A gift is by definition free of charge, but one might talk about a "free gift" to emphasize that there is no fine print, be it money or an expectation of a return, or that the gift is being given by volition.

This is related to the rhetorical device of hendiadys, where one concept is expressed through the use of two, for example "goblets and gold" meaning wealth, or "this day and age" to mean the present time. Superficially these expressions may seem tautologous, but they are stylistically sound because the repeated meaning is just a stylized way to emphasise the same idea.

Much Old Testament poetry is based on parallelism: the same thing said twice, but in slightly different ways (Fowler puts it as pleonasm). This can be found frequently in the Psalms, the Books of the Prophets, and in other areas of the Bible as well. One explanation of this is that when the Bible was translated into Anglo-Saxon, Norman French was still common among the aristocracy, so expressions like "save and except" were translated both for the commoners and the aristocrats; although in this case both "save" and "except" have a French or Latin origin.

Fowler makes a similar case for double negatives; in Old English they intensified the expression, did not negate it back to being a positive, and there are plenty of examples in authors before the eighteenth century, such as Shakespeare. In Modern French, for example, the "ne-pas" formation is essentially a double negative,Template:Cn and in many other Western European latinate languages the same applies, with "ni" or "no", mutatis mutandis, emphasising instead of negating the initial negative. In common French, the "ne" is quite typically dropped, as it was believed to have been in Vulgar Latin.

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Old text from tautology (rhetoric)

In rhetoric, a tautology is an unnecessary or unessential (and sometimes unintentional) repetition of meaning, using different and dissimilar words that effectively say the same thing twice (often originally from different languages). It is often regarded as a fault of style and was defined by Fowler as "saying the same thing twice." It is not apparently necessary or essential for the entire meaning of a phrase to be repeated. If a part of the meaning is repeated in such a way that it appears as unintentional, clumsy, or lacking in dexterity, then it may be described as tautology. On the other hand, a repetition of meaning which improves the style of a piece of speech or writing is not necessarily described as tautology because it improves the style of a piece of speech or writing.

A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the propositions is guaranteed or that the truth of the propositions cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self referentially. Consequently, the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived. A rhetorical tautology should not be confused with a tautology in propositional logic, since the inherent meanings and subsequent conclusions in rhetorical and logical tautologies are very different.

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