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My pet hates 3 – saying the same thing twice

Tautology – This term suggests a redundancy, a needless repetition of the same sense in different words.

Tautology is all over the place in the English-speaking world. I just want to mention what I believe to be the most common variation on this theme today and it is about adding “pre-“ to a verb.

A friend told me he had pre-booked a table in a restaurant. What did he do when he arrived? Did he book the table? This goes to show he did not understand conceptually that booking an event or an object is something that happens ahead of time. Add “pre-“ and you are looking at a redundancy.

Another example, just to show that journalists can get this wrong too: A lead paragraph in a British daily read: “The police caught the suspects in a pre-planned operation.” The police planned for this operation to happen. It goes without saying that it was planned in advance. To suggest it was “pre-planned” amounts to saying the same thing twice. It insults my intelligence every time I see this sort of nonsense.

But it’s a different matter if you pre-order a book on, say, Amazon that has yet to be printed. You order it in advance to ensure that your order is placed as soon as the first edition becomes available.

I welcome your comments.

Rolf Soderlind

http://www.absolutwriting.com/ absolutwriting

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