Trite Sayings Come In Pairs

Ever notice how trite sayings come in pairs, and often contradict each other? This goes to show that nothing is ever absolute even in popular wisdom...

Even that "nothing is absolute" isn't absolute? -- LayneThomas

- Yes! But then again my "yes" is absolute :-) and since nothing can be absolute I guess it shouldn't count!'' :-)

See CretanParadox (not GreekParadox?)

"Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it." (George Santayana)

Here are a few. Please add your own


---> the first saying means in effect, "don't expect to be able to fool everyone all the time", while the second means "there is an endless supply of fools to take advantage of". Their surface statements don't contradict each other, but the ultimate moral they convey does in fact contradict) They carry their context with them. The first is clearly from politics, regardless of the attribution. The second is clearly from hucksterism. As such, they're not trite and they contradict the point of this page; contextless sayings are crap.

---> Same thing here; surface meaning is merely reflexive rather than contradictory, but the intended reading is that it's a different group of people doing the exploitation, said with irony.) The intended meaning doesn't contradict at all but reinforces. X is exploitative, Y is exploitative too. And we all know there is no Z that isn't X or Y. Blech.

---> Fundamental misunderstanding of one or several of these here? The first and the third are both 'Things which are broken get fixed', and the second seems unrelated outside of the sense that the first and second are both sound-related. Also, the point of the concept of the first is to silence the wheel, so it's the same as the second in that sense. I'm not seeing a contradiction in any of these. You need to consider connotation as well as denotation. First and third refer to 'people' being noisy, some of them getting 'grease' (positive attention, project funding), some of them getting 'hammered down' (punitive). The first and second refer to opposing approaches towards certain forms of wealth... squeaky or silent you get something of value.

---> This is only a contradiction if freedom is equivalent to bliss. Personally I find this highly tenuous as the two are orthogonal. Again, connotation vs. denotation. "The truth will set you free" rarely refers to actual 'freedom', and very often is used with the connotation of the truth offering relief from a mental burden or troubles... not quite bliss, but similar.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Out of sight, out of mind


This page is a subtle example of why patterns need a context element.

Some of these are not direct contradictions - NonOrthogonality? is everywhere these days. . .

I think, furthermore, that people are just dumping their own favorite trite sayings here without regard for the intent, purpose or point of the page.

Now, BertrandMeyer talks about the distinction between a principle and a platitude (although I don't think the observation is original to him). A principle can be negated (or otherwise turned around) and still make sense, whereas the opposite of a platitude is just foolish. More on this has been written at BertrandMeyerOnPlatitudes.

I think most of these are not intended to be truths, but to give the inarticulate a way of expressing what they think or feel in a succinct phrase that everyone will recognize.

I doubt that quotes constitute trite sayings, since no one other than the quoted says it...

Except many famous quotes evolve into cliches. People in RealLife do say many of those quotes - if they are repeated often enough, they are indistinguishable from cliches/trite sayings

"What we need are some new cliches." -- Samuel R. Goldwyn

See: PointyHairedBoss ChecksAndBalances


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