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TAUTOLOGY

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TAUTOLOGY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:52 pm

• tautology •


Pronunciation: taw-tah-lê-jee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A redundant phrase, a phrase with a repeated meaning, such as a female girl, an unmarried bachelor, a dead corpse. 2. Two phrases in a statement that make the statement true regardless whether either of the phases is true: "Linguistics will either make me smarter or not make me smarter."

Notes: A tautology is the opposite of an oxymoron, two words that contradict each other, such as the living dead. The words of a tautology mean the same thing: a dead corpse is a tautology because corpse itself means "dead". The adjectives in phrases like tiny speck, ATM machine, PIN number, a true fact, close proximity are all tautological.

In Play: Today's Good Word is a more precise substitute for redundant when you hear phrases like waffling politician, greedy corporate executive, sneaky lobbyist: "That's tautological," fits the situation more closely. This word can also add variety where we would otherwise use "X is his/her middle name", too: "It would be tautological to say that Dunham Wright is a decent person; "decency" is his middle name."

Word History: Today's Good Word is the English version of Greek tautologos "redundant", made up of tautos "identical" + logos "word, idea". The Greek word logos gave English logic and the suffix (o)logy, which we freely attach to words of all ilks these days. Logos is the noun from the verb legein "to speak, talk", whose root we find in lexicon (leg-sikon), lecture, and legend. This root came down to Old Germanic as *lekjaz "enchanter" (someone who uses magic words), which was laece "physician, doctor" by the time it reached Old English. Today? In Modern English it refers to an old, primitive medical device—the leech. (Would it be tautological to say a grateful readership is thankful to Michael Oberndorf for suggesting today's Good Word? Well, it wouldn't overexpress our gratitude.)
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby David Myer » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:58 am

Sparkling French champagne wine, anyone? Can anyone find a longer phrase (more words) where only one word is necessary?
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby MTC » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:57 am

"Tour de Tautology"

Now that there is a new beginning, for some an unexpected surprise, at the present moment it's more than the consensus of opinion, it's absolutely certain and an actual fact that Republicans, Democrats, and the current incumbent cannot postpone until later, but must collaborate together for a number of days to reach a major breakthrough on the same identical issues they faced before , or they will revert back and repeat again the same identical mistakes they made before, the end result of which will be in the final outcome a sudden explosion leading to an emergency situation in which the ecomomy will be completely annihilated and the voters will not vacillate back and forth, but will indict them on charges, and recall them back from office even if they kneel down on their knees as never before, employing every overused cliche to obtain a safe haven from the voters' angry wrath.
Last edited by MTC on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:26 pm

Not necessarily a good fit here, but I am reminded
in counseling when people use the word
"uncomfortability" when 'discomfort' will do.
Making things longer than necessary
seven syllables when three will do.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:22 pm

MTC, that's totally, entirely, incredibly, unbelievably, grand and marvelous. I ask and pray you inscribe it on a plaque to display for posterity - and possibly for the frontispiece of grammar books!

Having said that, I want to emphasize the role that tautologies play in formal logic. After axioms, and perhaps in their formulation, tautologies are the building blocks of all reasoning. Such expressions include "X cannot be both true and false." whatever statement you insert for X, the sentence is true, the law of contradiction. Another useful tautology is "if X is included in Y, and Y is the case, then X is also the case." All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal. (Also known as a BARBARA syllogism in Aristotelian logic.)
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Slava » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:20 pm

My personal least favorites of tautologies:

Together with
Reason why

Foo :!:
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby bnjtokyo » Thu Nov 08, 2012 5:06 am

Is "paradox" the antonym of "tautology"?

"This sentence is not true" is neither true nor false.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby MTC » Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:12 am

Perry, I can hardly deserve your generous praise or know how to respond except to say thank you very much for the encouragement. Odd isn't it, that an "exemplar" of bad writing would push me to a publisher?

About Logic, I had always thought of it as the foundation of clear thinking. If only I could understand the rules my thinking would be if not pellucid, at least not opaque. Then I chanced upon the rabbit hole of "Quantum Logic" where the rules of Classic Logic are repealed, where electrons can be both here and there, both A and B, not just here or there, A or B. No doubt you are already acquainted with this strange world with its own logic. For those who would like to know more, here is a lecture by an expert on YouTube:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XDYDiDrTFY)
And a Wikipedia article:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_logic) As for me, I have returned to the everyday world whose everyday logic is challenge enough.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:51 pm

I suspect any resolution to the problem lies in epistemology, a field that includes logic, but deals with how we know anything. A basic question, oversimplified, is whether our brains and thinking match the "real" world. We always MUST think abstractly, simplifying the big, buzzing world of confusion. What we focus on determines how we see the world.

The world of particle physics totally fascinates me. Everything is weird, impossible, and contradictory. Only Lewis Carrol foresaw such a thing, except Alice is far more rational. Theologically, I would say, provisionally, that it's remarkable that light was the first thing created, since everything now seems reduced to photons or their neutrino cousins, all of which seem only to partially "exist!" And what of dark matter and energy, which suddenly takes up 70-95% of everything.

Paradox is indeed fascinating. I believe theology got into trouble when we began to impose Greco-Roman thinking and logic into the Biblical texts. The ancient Mid-eastern mind did not think that way. The clearest example may be in 1 John 1-2, where the writer seems to contradict himself by first saying if you think you don't sin, you are kidding yourself. Then he turns around almost immediately and says if you are a true disciple, you don't sin. Possible he would agree with a modern hermeneutic that says the first "sin" refers to individual acts, and the second to a lifestyle. My guess, though,, is that he would be happier to let the two stand in tension against one another. In our divided and ideological society we would to well to develop the ability to live within the tension of paradox!
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby MTC » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:04 pm

Yes, fascinating and central about abstraction, matching, and epistemology. Will we ever know? Intuitively, without any proof, I feel more than think we never will. No doubt this is one reason I love Emily Dickinson's poetry so apt here :


I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable, - and then
There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

Emily Dickinson
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:28 pm

I love Emily Dickinson's poetry and I love Emily Dickinson. She was a rare jewel. She was agoraphobic, introverted, sometimes antisocial, cloistered, weird, obsessed with death, and amazing. Great beauty came from her very narrow physical view of life. Her spiritual view was immense.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:58 am

You mean she would have feared this website?
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:34 am

What makes you think she would fear this website? She would have loved it, especially the group poems.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby Slava » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:17 am

Philip Hudson wrote:What makes you think she would fear this website? She would have loved it, especially the group poems.

I do believe it just might be because earlier you said she was agoraphobic. :wink:
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
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Re: TAUTOLOGY

Postby MTC » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:09 am

Ha!
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