What is pleonasm?

What Does pleonasm Mean

A Greek term that derived from the Latin pleonasmus is the most distant etymological antecedent of the word pleonasm , which is used in our language to name a class of rhetorical figure . This consists of the use of terms that reinforce what is said in an expression but that do not add valuable information since, without them, the phrase would be understood the same.

In other words , pleonasm implies adding certain concepts to an expression that are not essential for it to be understood, but that can help to emphasize what is expressed. For example: "Get outside immediately!" , "When I am sad, I go upstairs and lock myself in the attic" , "The manager is nothing more than a mute who does not speak . "

Although it is useful for expressiveness, pleonasm can also be considered as a defect or a flaw in language . The redundancy involves a repetition of content from the aggregate data are not needed, so it should be omitted.
Returning to the previous examples, when the verb "go out" is used, it is not necessary to clarify that the end of the journey is "outside" , since it is impossible to "go inside" . In a similar sense , it must be said that you cannot "go up" down. On the other hand, detailing that a "mute" is unable to "speak" is also redundant.
The expression "I saw with my own eyes how the offender shot the victim" is a pleonasm (it cannot be "seen" with the eyes of another person ), although redundancy can be accepted as a way of highlighting that the individual was a direct witness of the event in question. The phrase "We need a fair Justice" , on the other hand, also constitutes a common pleonasm: although logic indicates that Justice is "fair" , the Judiciary is not always so.
In this way, it is easy to distinguish between the pleonasm that occurs as a result of misuse of the language and that which is intentionally elaborated with the desire to highlight an idea . In the hands of a skilled writer, this figure of rhetoric can embellish a work, underline certain concepts before dropping them and change the subject, making the most of the meaning of a word; in everyday speech, when it constitutes a mistake, it does nothing but dirty the language and impoverish communication.
It should be noted that, although there are certain pleonasms that we can easily notice in popular language and that are often a source of ridicule (as with the aforementioned "go outside" and "go upstairs" ), it is difficult to plead innocent of the incorrect use of this figure; Let's look at some expressions that combine concepts unnecessarily and that most of the Spanish-speaking people often use in oral communication: «come here» ; "Shut your mouth" ; "Future plans" ; "Fly through the air" ; «Prior appointment» .

As can be appreciated, it is not of constructions incorrect aspect or kitschy ; however, once analyzed, all of them are redundant. This does not mean that we should stop using them, since language is not an equation with only one result; on the contrary, it is flexible and adapts to the needs of its speakers, and its most captivating aspect often lies in its contradictions.
The oxymoron is the literary figure that complements the pleonasm, since it is based on the use of two concepts that are opposed in meaning to build an expression that gives rise to a new concept. At first glance, an oxymoron presents an absurd idea that must be interpreted in an inconspicuous way, as a metaphor. Let's look at some examples: "dress me slowly because I'm in a hurry" , "frightful pleasures and horrendous sweetnesses" , "love is blind sight" , "eternal instant" .

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