one more tautology

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Wed Apr 28 18:33:48 UTC 2010

Given that tautologies are by definition semantically empty, they are all merely inteepretable by doing the Gricean thing and imposing an interpretation on them as figuratve language. Thus pretty much any word may be used this way; the number is huge and merely listing the ones that one has heard is pretty trival. I don't mean that there may not be amusing patterns (Let linguists be linguists be linguists, even if is crap). But the examples in and of themselves are not particularly interesting.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
Date:         Wed, 28 Apr 2010 11:47:55
Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] one more tautology

On Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 11:23 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> I just found myself using this one:  "Fair is fair".  Lots of hits,
> but it's hard to count given all the ones for "How fair is fair
> trade?" and the like.

G.L. Apperson's_English Proverbs_ dates "Fair is fair, work or play"
to 1710 (Samuel Palmer,_Moral Essays on Proverbs_ 31). OED2 has the
more colloquial "fair's fair" ['(reciprocal) fairness is called for']
from 1898 (Google Books has it from 1840).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list