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to confuse the mind of the reader, and weakens the whole effect of the passage. The following extract from Lord Shaftesbury's “ Characteristics” has been often cited as containing a striking example of this form of tautology
“Now if the fabric of the mind or temper appeared to us such as it really is; if we saw it impossible to remove hence any one good or orderly affection, or to introduce any ill or disorderly one, without drawing on, in some degree, that dissolute state which, at its height, is confessed to be so miserable, it would then undoubtedly be confessed, that since no ill, immoral, or unjust action can be committed without either a new inroad and breach on the temper and passions, or a further advancing of that execution already done; whoever did ill, or acted in prejudice to his integrity, good nature, or worth, would of necessity act with greater cruelty towards himself than he who scrupled not to swallow what was poisonous, or who with his own hands should voluntarily mangle or wound his outward form or constitution, natural limbs or body."
No one can rise from the perusal of this sentence without a feeling of dissatisfaction, not to say of disgust. The mind is so encumbered with a superfluity of unmeaning words, that the sense of the passage is involved in hopeless confusion, and the whole intention of the author is defeated. And after all this parade and pomp of language, he merely wishes to show that by every vicious action, the mind is as much injured as the body would be by the infliction of a wound.
Another form of tautology is where an adjective expresses nothing more than what is implied in the
meaning of the noun to which it is affixed; as, 'a hollow cavern ;'.umbrageous shade;'“ a round ball;' • brilliant radiance ; ' 'a square cube;' 'foul dirt;' unmeaning nonsense,' &c.
2. Pleonasm. The difference between tautology and pleonasm is, that by the former the sense is repeated; whereas by the latter nothing is added to it. In this sentence, “They returned back again to the same city from whence they came forth,” the words
back,' again,'' same,'from,' and 'forth,' are superfluous. They are of no use, they add nothing to the sense, and should therefore be expunged; and the sentence will then stand: “They returned to the city whence they came.” “I went home full of a great many reflections.” If he was full, it adds nothing to the sense to say 'a great many.' Better, “I went home full of reflections." “If he happens to have any his hands” (“upon
his hands 'is redundant, and may be dispensed with). “ The everlasting club treats all other clubs with an eye of contempt.” The writer might have here said, “regards' or treats' all other clubs with contempt; but to treat with an eye is incorrect, as well as pleonastic. The form of sentence beginning, There are .... which are, &c., is also frequently a pleonasm. It may be occasionally used in introducing a subject, as giving it a certain importance; but, as a rule, it is better to avoid the particle there;' and instead of writing, “ There are few people who are not aware,” &c., say, “Few people are not aware,” &c.
The phrases more or less,' as it were,' so to speak,' and some others, are frequently superfluous. They are often introduced merely to occupy space on
the paper, and are, in a great majority of cases, unnecessary to the sense.
Many words called expletives are not on that account always pleonastic. Do and did, when used as signs of tenses, are frequently indispensable, and sometimes emphatic. In negative and interrogative forms of the verb they are necessary ; as: “I do not think so.” “Do you wish to see him?” “What I did publicly affirm then, I do affirm now,” &c. But in other cases they are unnecessary, and unidiomatic, and the use of them in modern English is faulty.
EXAMINATION QUESTIONS ON PART V.
1. What is meant by the word “Style ? ” 2. Whence is this word derived ? 3. Mention some qualities by which style may be charac
terised. 4. Which is the most important quality of style ? 5. Under what three heads may clearness of style be con
sidered? 6. What is implied by “purity” of style ? 7. Are any foreign words admissible into English ? 8. How are obsolete words to be considered ? 9. By what rule should we be guided in the adoption of new
words? 10. What is meant by a grammatical error ? 11. About what period of our literature did English writers
begin to pay some attention to grammar ? 12. Give some examples of grammatical errors in the use of
pronouns. 13. What is meant by a grammatical inconsistency? 14. By what rule should we be guided in the number of the
verb, when its subject is a noun of multitude ?
15. In what number must the verb be put, when it has several
singular subjects connected by or' or 'nor?' 16. What grammatical errors are frequently made when the
words each,' every,' either,' and 'neither' are used 10. What is meant by technical terms ? 11. How far are they admissible in writing on general subjects ?
as subjects ? 17. What is the general rule for the use of the subjunctive ? 18. When should the indicative mood be used after a con
junction ? 19. What law regulates the sequence of moods and tenses in
English grammar ? 20. What kind of adjectives have no degrees of comparison ? 21. What inaccuracies frequently occur in the use of the com
parative and superlative degrees ? 22. What is the effect of two negatives in English ? 23. Give some examples of the wrong use of the negative and
disjunctive particles. 24. State some cases in which it is right to use adjectives as
1. What is meant by an idiom ? 2. Give some examples of English idioms. 3. What faults are frequently made under this head ? 4. To what cause may errors in idiom be referred ? 5. Give some examples of unidiomatic expressions. 6. In the use of what part of speech do we meet with most
mistakes of idiom ?
1. What is meant by propriety of style? 2. State some causes of error in the use of words. 3. When are words said to be synonymous ? 4. What classification may be made of synonymous words ? 5. Give some examples of English words erroneously used in a
foreign sense. 6. Give some cases of incorrect phrases often used. 7. How may obscurity arise from ellipsis ? 8. From what other sources does obscurity sometimes arise ? 9. What may be remarked, under this head, on the structure of
1. Show the difference between a concise and a diffusive style. 2. Which is, on the whole, to be preferred ? 3. Which is the more difficult to attain ? 4. What is meant by “ Tautology ?” 5. Describe some forms of tautology. 6. What is the difference between pleonasm and tautology ? 7. Give some examples.