Quote of the Week

“Enough is enough.”

Theresa May, 4th June 2017

Theresa May uttered these words as a response to the latest terrorist attack in London the previous evening. The sentence is a “tautology” in that it doesn’t add anything new to the common ground. It is the equivalent of a mathematician writing 1=1. However when used in discourse, tautologies have pragmatic force and often encapsulate profound meaning. In politics, they can be handy slogans that allow politicians to make it seem like a position is being taken but without spelling out in detail what that position is. Theresa May used the tautology “Brexit means Brexit” to great effect after the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU without explaining what it meant. As with this tautology, it might be some time before we learn what “enough is enough” means in terms of policy.

Tautology: A statement that expresses a proposition which is necessary true (Allott, 2010).

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)

Allott, T (2010) Key terms in pragmatics. Bloomsbury.