June 06, 2013

Ceci est un bagel.

Human language has a lot of built-in redundancy. For example, in English, we often mark that we are talking about an event that lies in the past by using past tense ("went" instead of "go") and temporal adverbs, such as "yesterday." We say "I went to the market yesterday," instead of just "I go to the market yesterday," which would be anchored in the past just through the adverb. It's not an option in standard English. So, we're used to a certain amount of redundancy and in many cases we hardly notice. In some cases we do. For example, when you're looking at a tray with a selection of donuts, what is the point of the sign that, yes, indeed, we are looking at "Assorted Donuts?" 

We try to construct the verbal message as relevant, but that means that it has to contribute something beyond what we already know. Does it?

It might. This is not just fruit salad, it's "fresh fruit salad." Let's grab some.

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