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TAUTOLOGY AND CATACHRESIS.
Tautology is the repetition of the same meaning in different *ords, or the needless repetition of the same words.
Thus, in the sentence, “The nefarious wickedness of his conduct was reprobated and condemned by all,” the tautology consists in the use of nefarious and wickedness together; which is the same as to say, the wicked wickedness; and reprobated and condemned, which are words of similar meaning. So, also, in the sentence, “The brilliance of the sun dazzles our eyes, and overpowers them with light," the same idea is conveyed by, the word “dazzles” and the expression, “overpowers them with light;" one of them, therefore, should be omitted.
Whenever anything is represented as being the cause, condition, or consequence of itself, it may also be considered as a tautology, as in the bllowing lines:
“The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,
Addison. Tautologies are allowable only in lega instruments, and other writings where precision is of more importance „nan elegance; when, therefore, it consists in the repetition of a word, it may be corrected by the use of a synonyme; but when it consists in the repetition of an idea, unless such repetition is important for clearness or for emphasis, it should be wholly ruppressed.
They returned back again to the same city from whence they came forth.
In this sentence, all the words in Italic are tautologies; for the word return implies to turn back, the city implies the same city, and from and forth are both included in the word whence. The sentence, read without the words in Italic, is as clear and expressive as words can make it. Words which do not add to the meaning are useless, especially in prose.
He led a blameless and an irreproachable life, and no one could censure is conduct.
God is eternal, and his existence is without beginning and without end
He sat on the verdant green, in the umbrageüus shade of the woudy forest.
How many there are by whom these tidings of good news have never been heard.
Virgil in his Æneid tells a story very similar to that which Homer tells in his Odyssey. But the one relates the adventures of a renowned Tro. jan hero, and the other relates the adventures of a renowned Grecian hero.
Our sight is of all faculties the most agreeable when we indulge it in secing agreeable objects; because it is never wearied with fatigue, and it requires no exertion when it exerts itself.
He succeeded in gaining the universal love of all men.
A father, when he sees his child going to the silence and stillness of the tomb, may weep and lament when the shadow of death has fully overshaded him; and as he hears the last final departing knell sounding in his ears, may say, I will descend and go down to the grave to my son mourning in sorrow. But he turns away in the hurry and laste of business and occupation; the tear is wiped ; his eyes are dried; and though when he returns and comes back to his domestic hearth and fireside at home, the playful and sportive laugh comes up to his remembrance, and is recalled to his recollection, the succeding day blunts and removes the poignancy of his grief, and it finds no permanent and lasting seat.
There is a sweetness and sacred holiness in a mother's tears, when they are dropt and fall on the face of her dying and expiring babe, which no eye can see, and no one can behold with a heart untouched and unaf fected.
It is clear and obvious that n Jigious worship and adoration should be regarded with pleasure by all men.
There is another fault into which careless writers are prone to fall, which is the very reverse of tautology; and to which the term Catachresis* may not be inappropriately applied ; and this is the use of the same word in different senses.
* The literal meaning of Catachresis is against use, and it is applied by rhetoricians to express an abuse, or false use of a word, by which it is wrest ed from its original application, and made to express something which is at variance with its etymology. It is a sort of blundering denomination, chiefly caused by retaining the name of an object, after the qualities from which it derived that name are changed. The thing that is made, for ex ample, is often designated by that of the substance from which it is fabri cated. Thus a vessel in which liquids are boiled is called a copper, because, in most cases, it is made of that material, and this figure is a Metonomy, But such vessels are occasionally made of other metals, still retaining the name of coppers, and it is this misnomer which is called a Catachresis From this explanation it will appear that the term as applied above, al though not rigidly restricted to its rhetorical meaning, is not wholly inap propriate.
Charity expands our hearts in love to God and man; and it is by the virtue of charity that the rich are blessed, and the poor are supplied.
In this sentence the word charity is improperly applied in two different senses, namely, for the highest benevolence, and for simple alms-giving.
Gregory favored the undertaking for no other reason than this, that the wanager in countenance favored (i. c. resembled) his friend.
True wit is nature to advantage dressed; and yet some works have more wit than does them good.
Honor teaches us to respect ourselves, and to violate no right nor priv ilege of our neighbor. It leads us to support the feeble, to relieve the distressed, and to scorn to be governed by degrading and injurious passions. And yet we see honor is the motive which urges the destroyer to take the life of his friend.
The minister proposed a plan for the support of the ministers of the church.
The professor was a professor of religion.
PLEONASM, VERBOSITY, AND REDUNDANCY.
Pleonasm consists in the use of words seemingly superflujus, in order to express a thought with greater energy: as, “I saw it with my own eyes." Here the pleonasm consists in the addition of the expression," with my own eyes.' Pleonasms are usually considered as faults, especially in prose.
* It will be seen from what has been said in relation to the word Cata chresis that it is the foundation of many witticisms, under the denomination u paranomasia, or pun. [ See Paranomasia ]
m poetry, they may be sparingly allowed as poetical licenses.* They are allowable, also, in animated discourse, to introduce abruptly ap em. phatic word, or to repeat an idea to impress it more strongly; as, “ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” “I know thee who thou art."
Pleonasm is nearly allied to tautology, but is occasionally a less glaring fault in a sentence; and, indeed, it may be considered justifiable, and even sometimes elegant, when we wish to present thoughts with particu lar perspicuity or force; but an unemphatic repetition of the same idea is one of the worst of faults in writing.
Pleonasm implies merely superfluity. Although the words do not as in tautology, repeat the sense, they add nothing to it.
Pleonasm differs, also, from what is called verbosity: Verbosity, it is true, implies a superabundance of words ; but, in a pleonasm there are words which add nothing to the sense. In the verbose manner, not only single words, but whole clauses, may have a meaning, and yet it would be better to omit them, because what they mean is unimportant.
Another difference is, that, in a pleonasm, a complete correction may be made, by simply omitting the superfluous words; but, in a verbose sentence, it will be necessary to alter, as well as to omit.
It is a good rule, always to look over what has been written, and to strike out every word and clause, which it is found will leave the sentence neither less clear, nor less forcible, than it was before.
There are many sentences which would not bear the omission of a single word, without affecting the clearness and force of the expression, and which would be very much improved, were they recast, and the sense expressed by fewer and more forcible words. Thus, for instance, in the following sentence, no word can be omitted without affecting the sense.
“A severe and tyrannical exercise of power must become a matter of cecessary policy with kings, when their subjects are imbued with such principles as justify and authorize rebellion."
But the same sense may be much better expressed in fewer words, thus;
“ Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from prin ciple."
Redundancy is another term, also employed to signify superfluity in the words and members of a sentence. Pleonasm and verbosity relate, principally, to the words in a sentence, but redundancy relates to the members as well as the words. As every word ought to present a new idea, so every member ought to contain a new thought. The following sen tence exemplifies the fault of redundancy. “ The very first discovery of it strikes the mind with inward joy, and spreads delight through all its faculties." In this example, little or nothing is added by the second member of the sentence, to what was expressed in the first.
See the article on Poetical Liceno.
The following sentences present examples of pleonasm verbosity, and redundancy, which may be corrected by the learner.
The rain, is it not over and gone? I hear no wind, only the voice at the streams.
My banks they are furnished with bees.
It is impossible for us to behold the divine works with coldness or in difference, or to survey so many beauties, without a secret satisfaction and complacency,
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
This great politician desisted from, and renounced his designs, when he found them impracticable.
He was of so high and independent a spirit, that he abhorred and de tested being in debt.
Though raised to an exalted station, she was a pattern of piety, virtue, and religion.
The human body may be divided into the head, trunk, limbs, and vitals.
His end soon approached ; and he died with great courage and fortitude.
He was a man of so much pride and vanity, that he despised the senti. ments of others.
Poverty induces and cherishes dependence; and dependence strength ens and increases corruption.
This man, on all occasions, treated his inferiors with great haughtiness and disdain.
There can be no regularity or order in the life and conduct of that man who does not give and allot a due share of his time to retirement and reflection.
Sucla equivocal and ambiguous expressions, mark a formed intentiou to deceive and abuse us,
His cheerful, happy temper, remote from discontent, keeps up a kind of daylight in his mind, excludes every gloomy prospect, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity.
Being content with deserving a triumph, he refused the honor of it.
In the Attic commonwealth, it was the privilege of every citizen and poet to rail aloud in pablic.
VARIETY OF EXPRESSION.
The various modes of transposition and inversion, by which the same idea can be expressed by different inflections of the words have already been presented. In this exercise the