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Needless to say ...

PotomacBob

I seem to run into many stories on SOL that contain the phrase "needless to say ..."
It makes me wonder, if it IS needless to say, why does the author say it anyway?
If it's NOT needless to say, then saying it is is a contradiction.
Am I just being an old nitpicker?

awnlee jawking

Perhaps it's like the female character examining her 38DD-25-36 figure in the mirror - unnecessary for the story characters but actually aimed at the readers ;)

AJ

Zom

@PotomacBob

Am I just being an old nitpicker?

Yep. Just like me.

karactr

Me too. It's the same when authors write "centered around".

LucyAnneThorn

@PotomacBob

Am I just being an old nitpicker?


Nah, you're just trying to get us to write "It's needless to say it's needless to say," then wonder what happens if we add another "it's needless to say" or two and end up in an endless recursion.

REP

@PotomacBob

why does the author say it anyway?


Probably because people often use 'needless to say' to introduce something they want to say that is know to everyone in order to reinforce some point being discussed.

Crumbly Writer

@PotomacBob

I seem to run into many stories on SOL that contain the phrase "needless to say ..."
It makes me wonder, if it IS needless to say, why does the author say it anyway?
If it's NOT needless to say, then saying it is is a contradiction.

It's generally a back door approach to explain what ALL the characters in the story understand, but readers (especially non-native English speakers) may not.

Thus, it's not really a contradiction, but a simple annoyance for those who already know the explanation long before it's stated for the few who might not know it.

For example, in a Columbian drug drama, you might use:

Needless to say, one doesn't cross El Chappo.

as a reminder that you don't piss off the bear who's likely to rip your face off. It's not the reminder that's never spoken of, it's the actual criticism that's never spoken.

For any more meaningful interpretations, we'd need some examples from the books in question, as they might have had a different intent entirely.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
richardshagrin

"Search by Content
Results ... 3061 files found for [ needless to say]"

QM

It's a plot device designed to introduce a concept. Unless it's just lazy writing.

karactr

Or an author or character being pedantic and annoying.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

It's generally a back door approach to explain what ALL the characters in the story understand, but readers (especially non-native English speakers) may not.


Like the character who starts off an expositional speech with, "As you already know ..." ;)

AJ

Replies:   REP
REP

@awnlee jawking

"As you already know ..." ;)


A statement many of us make in our conversations and followed by a 'but' when we intend to deviate from what is 'commonly known'.

Jim S
Updated:

@PotomacBob

I seem to run into many stories on SOL that contain the phrase "needless to say ..."
It makes me wonder, if it IS needless to say, why does the author say it anyway?
If it's NOT needless to say, then saying it is is a contradiction.
Am I just being an old nitpicker?

I don't think you're being a nitpicker; I just think you don't understand the real use of the phrase. To me, it serves to emphasize that whatever point is made in the following sentence/phrase/whatever is so obviously, well, obvious that stating it should be unnecessary.

So it's a dramatic (or comic) construct. Might there be a different way to construct it so the phrase needn't be used? Most assuredly given how slippery English is. But that shouldn't preclude it being available as an option.

My two centavos....

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Jim S

So it's a dramatic (or comic) construct. Might there be a different way to construct it so the phrase needn't be used? Most assuredly given how slippery English is. But that shouldn't preclude it being available as an option.

Needless to say, using "needless to say" should be needless, just saying!

Possible alternatives: "Stating the obnoxious and pointless ..."

Replies:   Jim S
awnlee jawking

@PotomacBob

I just used it on Twitter, and that reminded me of this topic.

In context, I was stating the consequence of an action, obvious if anyone thought about it for a moment, but something most readers might not.

So it probably wasn't needless after all ;)

AJ

Jim S

@Crumbly Writer

Possible alternatives: "Stating the obnoxious and pointless ..."


Well, your alternative is certainly more colorful. And probably a very useful construct for the right character. It says exactly the same thing (objectively) but with different emphasis. Gotta love the English language.

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