Figure of Speech help

Can anyone tell me if "so many fewer passengers" is a taughtology or an oxymoron?
Sorry, got too much time on our hands!

Comments

  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,021 Forumite
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    Well, it doesn't seem like an oxymoron. My favourite example is 'Military intelligence' - a contradiction in terms. 

    A tautology is using too many words, and I don't think it's one of them either. 

    I'm struggling to say what it is. There are fewer passengers, and the 'many' describes the degree of the reduction. 

    For example, there are many fewer passengers on our local trains, to the extent that I'm surprised they are still running a full service. If there were only a few fewer, then that would still be necessary. 
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  • Pollycat
    Pollycat Posts: 34,685 Forumite
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    Personally, I'd say 'far fewer passengers'.
    Or 'a lot less passengers'.
    'so many fewer' just doesn't sound right to me.
    Like Savvy_Sue, I don't think either term you've given is correct.
  • maggiesoup
    maggiesoup Posts: 766 Forumite
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    Thanks for answers.  I'm afraid you'll have to take it up with Evan Davis on Radio 4.  We thought it sounded odd too !
  • Pollycat
    Pollycat Posts: 34,685 Forumite
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    I've got a glass of chilled Pinot with my name on it that's far more important. :D
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,021 Forumite
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    Pollycat said:
    Personally, I'd say 'far fewer passengers'.
    Or 'a lot less passengers'.
    'so many fewer' just doesn't sound right to me.
    Like Savvy_Sue, I don't think either term you've given is correct.
    I agree there are situations where I'd say 'far fewer' but there are others where that just wouldn't sound right, eg in the example I gave, you could say 'far fewer passengers, to the extent that I'm surprised  ...' but you might also say 'there are so many fewer passengers, to the extent that I'm surprised ...' and you definitely can't say 'so far fewer' you have to say 'so many fewer'. 

    Just as long as no-one starts on Fronted Adverbials ...
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  • Sterlingtimes
    Sterlingtimes Posts: 2,403 Forumite
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    I found a technical explanation:
    Many is an adjective, while much is an adverb. As such, many cannot modify the adjective fewer; only an adverb can modify an adjective. Much fewer is simply more correct than many fewer, despite its cacophony. Many modifies a noun: many applesMuch modifies the adjective: much fewer apples or far fewer apples.
    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/371335/much-many-fewer

    I have osteoarthritis in my hands so I speak my messages into a microphone using Dragon. Some people make "typos" but I often make "speakos".
  • Sterlingtimes
    Sterlingtimes Posts: 2,403 Forumite
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    I notice that younger people substitute "way" for "far". Even journalists who are adopting "way".
    I have osteoarthritis in my hands so I speak my messages into a microphone using Dragon. Some people make "typos" but I often make "speakos".
  • pollypenny
    pollypenny Posts: 29,393 Forumite
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    Tautology is repeating the same concept using different words. Eg. It was an enormous gigantic tree. 
    Member #14 of SKI-ers club

    Words, words, they're all we have to go by!.

    (Pity they are mangled by this autocorrect!)
  • jimbo6977
    jimbo6977 Posts: 1,226 Forumite
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    I found a technical explanation:
    Many is an adjective, while much is an adverb. As such, many cannot modify the adjective fewer; only an adverb can modify an adjective. Much fewer is simply more correct than many fewer, despite its cacophony. Many modifies a noun: many applesMuch modifies the adjective: much fewer apples or far fewer apples.
    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/371335/much-many-fewer

    Would “... many [plural countable noun] fewer ...” also be correct in the right context?

    ”A punnet holds many apples fewer than a barrel.”


  • Sterlingtimes
    Sterlingtimes Posts: 2,403 Forumite
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    jimbo6977 said:
    I found a technical explanation:
    Many is an adjective, while much is an adverb. As such, many cannot modify the adjective fewer; only an adverb can modify an adjective. Much fewer is simply more correct than many fewer, despite its cacophony. Many modifies a noun: many applesMuch modifies the adjective: much fewer apples or far fewer apples.
    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/371335/much-many-fewer

    Would “... many [plural countable noun] fewer ...” also be correct in the right context?

    ”A punnet holds many apples fewer than a barrel.”


    I think that a qualified person would need to comment.
    We would say, How MANY apples are in the barrel? How MUCH apple juice is in the barrel? How MANY gallons of apple juice are in the barrel?
    Therefore, "a punnet holds MUCH less apple juice than a barrel [does]" seems as correct as "a punnet holds MANY fewer apples than a barrel [does]".
    I have osteoarthritis in my hands so I speak my messages into a microphone using Dragon. Some people make "typos" but I often make "speakos".
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