Monday, September 8, 2014

The Department of Redundancy Department

Here's an interesting word: "tautology," defined as saying the same thing two or more times. The word comes from the Greek words “tauto” (the same) and “logos” (a word or an idea).  Saying that "applesauce is a sauce made of apples" would be an example.  

Dan Snyder owns the Washington team in the National Football League.  I'm not going to get into the whole thing about the team's name, which many people regard as offensive, but Snyder, whose name comes from the Greek words "Sny" (smug) and "der" (rich guy), is on the record as saying "The name of the team is the name of the team," which makes me wanna holla, and shout, and call out, and shriek.  Repetition is unnecessary and uncalled for.  Do you see what I mean, do you understand?

I'll tell you why that sort of verbal excess annoys me, and that's because it's usually done in an attempt to pose the speaker as some great thinker.  The first person who said, "It is what it is" must have thought they were really onto something.  Now it's the catchphrase for when we don't know what to say.  Your boss came in and laid down an order banning use of your personal social media during the workday? "It is what it is!"  You were making a nice roast for dinner but the timer didn't ding and now that rump roast is a smoldering cinder?  "It is what it is."  You wanted to have a picnic, but a tropical storm swept through your town?  "The weather is what the weather is."

This old songbook hangs around in my den,
where I do no algebra (and hardly any geometry!)
In my 10th grade Algebra II classroom, the teacher, Mr Dittmar, had huge banner across the breadth of the chalkboard.  In freehand calligraphy, the banner read "Any number multiplied by zero equals zero." When I took Algebra II again that summer, that fact stuck with me, as it does today, every time I use algebra in my daily life. 2(3h-1)+4h=10(2-3h)+38h, you say?   That's a long way of saying "h=11."

Why not just say h=11 in the first place?

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