An Amply Adequate Sufficiency of Tautology

Sign with sharp edges

As Russ Swan of Laboratory Talk pointed out in reference to my previous post on the redundancy of the phrase “male semen”, there are numerous other examples around. For instance, the phrase HIV virus is equally redundant as it literally says, “human immunodeficiency virus virus”, likewise ATM machine (automated teller machine machine), PIN number (personal identification number number) and the Sierra Nevada mountain range (Snowy mountain range mountain range). There are lots more everyday examples of interlanguage tautologies of the latter kind on Wikipedia

But there are plenty of examples in science and technology. For instance, this patent title – RAID array configuration synchronization at power on is just one of many examples that cite the acronym RAID followed by the word array, as if RAID standing for “redundant array of independent disks”. Ironic indeed that the phrase itself contains the word redundant.

HIV virus shows up countless times throughout the media, and no less in scientific journal article titles, such as this one – Prevalence of HIV virus among patients, I even saw the phrase “female girls” in one reference on the subject of Rett syndrome. And, there are plenty of examples along the lines of LED display, LCD display, and DC current.

Not quite a pure rhetorical tautology, the graphics acronym TIFF is often accompanied by the word “file” as in a TIFF file, which literally means “tagged image file format file”. Same goes for the phrase pertaining to Adobe’s almost ubiquitous and much-maligned “PDF format”, which expands to “portable document format format”. Then there are phrases like DOS operating system (disk operating system operating system), Windows NT technology, (Windows New Technology technology), BASIC code (Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code code), and ISDN network (Integrated Services Digital Network network).

There’s a nice extensive, long itemised listing of redundant tautologies to be found located here, but is there any purposeful point to drawing your attention to these phrases? Not really, but they’re great fun to find so if you discover any others please let me know via the comments box.

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9 thoughts on “An Amply Adequate Sufficiency of Tautology

  1. The C in AC and DC most certainly does stand for “Current”. But, yes point taken one might in a profesional electrical environment wish to qualify AC and DC. This wasn’t an entirely serious post, you know?

  2. “DC Current” IS acceptable:
    DC Current (The value of the current is constant in a circuit where the current is direct)
    AC Current (The value of the current is constant in an circuit where the current is alternating)
    DC Voltage (The value of the voltage is constant in a circuit where the current is direct)
    AC Voltage (The value of the voltage is constant in an circuit where the current is alternating)

    The C has a different meaning to the word “Current”

  3. Alkkemist, nicely spotted, although I suppose the phrase “emitting diode” would not quite explain what these devices do, and obviously for a “diode” without qualification there is no prerequisite for emissions of any kind.

    db

  4. LED == light emitting diode, not to be confused with the smoke emitting diode, or the more troublesome flame emitting diode

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