Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:
Because the Greeks thought so hard about the way we think, many of our words about thinking or talking have Greek roots. Among them, logos, "word," "speech," "reason," "idea." flowers in the form -logy, "which combines with other roots in the senses of "study of a subject" or "kind of speaking or writing." Combine it with tauto, "same," and you have tautology.
In speech and writing, a tautology (pronounced taw-TAHL-uh-jee) is a statement that says the same thing twice in different words. Rhetorically, the device can be used to reinforce the sense, but it is more commonly thought to be a fault in writing, a needless or irritating repetition, a redundancy, a superfluity. (See?)
An irritaing minor tautology that continually crops up is writing "8 a.m. Monday morning," because a.m. indicates morning.
In formal logic, a tautology is a statement that is true by virtue of its logical form. "Either it will rain today or it will not" is a tautology because it includes all the possibilities.
Example: From Mark Twain: "To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was tautology."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun