Tautology

tautologyShe was as quick to anger as was he and just as capable of expressing it. “I’m not that sort of woman. I’m not that sort of wife. If you wanted an obsequious sycophant to marry—“

“That’s tautology,” he said.

And that terse statement finished their argument.

I came across this dialogue in Elizabeth George’s “In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner”. It’s one of the beloved Lynley series that I somehow missed, and am reading now. Not familiar with the 8th Earl of Asherton, a.k.a., Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. Well that’s just a crime. Anyway…tautology? Never heard of it. A quick web search told me it means saying the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style. Well there you go. Only Thomas Lynley would criticize his new bride, Helen, with such a word. Some useful examples can be found here, such as, “One after the other in succession.” Apparently, according to Wolfram.com (seriously? wasn’t that the name of a fake law firm in the Joss Whedon classic, Angel?), tautology is also a mathematical term meaning “a logical statement in which the conclusion is equivalent to the premise”.  I think I prefer the one to do with redundancy of speech, and that bit about it being a fault of style. Then again, I was always better at English than math. 

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One thought on “Tautology

  1. Pingback: Pay Dirt | Bon Mots

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