04 April 2012

Tautologous Doublets

Currently, there is a news story in Brunei about someone who tricked lots of people into paying a $300 administration fee to get a fictitious government job. The third paragraph of the page 1 article in Media Permata of 4 April 2012 says:
Pasukan Polis Diraja Brunei juga ingin menasihatkan orang ramai supaya berhati-hati dan berwaspada jika ada tawaran-tawaran seperti ini, ...
which might be translated as:
The Royal Brunei Police Force also want to advise the public to be careful and cautious if there are offers such as this, ...
Note the use of berhati-hati and berwaspada, both of which mean 'to be careful'. Malay seems to love doublets like this, though comparable usage in English might be regarded as tautologous.

I often see examples such as the following in written assignments from my students:
Language is an important and vital tool.

I like to read newspapers that are printed and written in English.
and I advise them to avoid such redundancy.

However, we should also note that English sometimes has doublets, such as aiding and abetting and without due care and attention. The Wikipedia article on legal doublets (here) lists 36 such examples, and it states that they often involve an English word paired with a French or Latin word to ensure understanding.

Such doublets are mostly confined to the legal domain in English, and students are best advised not to use them in writing ordinary English. I tell them that redundantly tautologous repetition of unnecessary material should be avoided and eliminated.