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Striking the Surplus from Tautologies
The English language includes the tools it needs to communicate with
beauty, depth, and precision. Like any other healthy entity, it also moves
most swiftly without extra weight. In the world of words, flabby noun
phrases are known as tautologies.
online defines a tautology as “1a: needless
repetition of an idea, statement, or word.”
Common English is rife with such excess. It often occurs because of
needless descriptive emphasis or a simple lack of grammatical economy.
GrammarBook.com touched on this issue similarly before in Pleonasms Are a Bit Much. In that entry, we defined a pleonasm as deriving from pleonazein, a Greek word meaning “more than enough.”
“The jolly man was happy” is one such example of adding a pound
made more of fat than muscle.
We return to this subject and call it by its other namesake so you might
recognize this intruder of our language by either ID card it carries.
Tautologies will never be fully edited from spoken language simply because of inherent informality; only a well-trained and -disciplined mind
will omit extra words during a conversation in motion.
Careful writers, on the other hand, have the time and the will to infuse
their linguistic diets with protein. They cut the sugar and carbs that add
calories without nutrients to their thoughts.
They avoid composing phrases and sentences such as:
each and every one
Choose “each one” or “every one”–both are
clear when standing alone.
above and beyond
“Beyond” is all you need in a statement such as “Her
report went beyond expectations.”
You hear it all the time, and you might even use it yourself. If you do,
you now recognize that “majority” means the largest part of the
group, so you can cast the “vast” and not lose your meaning.
If “plan” means “to devise or project the realization or
achievement of” or “to make plans” (as in “plan
ahead”), is it possible to plan backwards?
Yet another pudgy phrase we hear or use all the time. An
“exodus” is defined as “a mass departure,” so we
know which word need not join the evacuation.
Trained expert, violent explosion, invited guest, identical match: The line
continues out the door and winds its way to the streets of congested
You have the power to improve the speed and flow of traffic in English.
Just say “ta-ta” to tautologies by reviewing word choices and
ensuring you enhance your meanings rather than duplicate them.
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your comments or questions regarding today's (or any past) article through GrammarBook.com’s Grammar Blog
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