Thursday, September 22, 2016

Up or Down? Lower or Raise? Redundancies in Directions

Yesterday, I sat on an adjustable-height table in a medical office. The medical person said, "Now I'm going to lower you down."

I said, "As opposed to lowering me up?" Wryly, I hoped.

But he just looked slightly puzzled and responded, "No, down, you don't need to go up."

Funny, the conventions that languages develop for casual conversation that include repetitions of meanings. For example, "lower" means "to move down," so "down" is unnecessary. Perhaps the redundancy has developed because people as a whole try their best to communicate clearly?  Or as a dramatic emphasis?  I'm sure there are doctoral theses on these questions.


  • Lower you down  (means, move you down down)
  • Raise you up (means, move you up up)
Our language has many other similar redundancies. Which ones do you notice?

This helicopter could lower you up or raise you down. Or some such. Helicopters are like magic.


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