Quote of the week
“Brexit means Brexit”
Theresa May, 11th July 2016
The quote of course is a ‘tautology’.
Tautology: A statement that expresses a proposition which is necessary true (Allott, 2010).
Tautologies are sentences which don’t add anything extra to the common ground. Semantically they are vacuous but pragmatically they can be quite profound. Some other examples of tautologies are:
War is war Whatever will be will be There's nothing you can do that can't be done (The Beatles)
For Theresa May, her quote is quite a convenient one because it allows her to look strong on Brexit but does not actually commit her to anything. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ could actually mean anything: ‘I support Brexit’, ‘Brexit means we should leave the EU’, ‘Brexit means we should go for the Norwegian model’, ‘Brexit means I love you’!
Allott, T (2010) Key terms in pragmatics. Bloomsbury.