Past experience

Posted by TheFallen on May 09, 2003

In Reply to: Past experience posted by Lotg on May 09, 2003

: OK, well I'm still on my superfluous word bandwagon...

: In a recent discussion with a friend he said, 'well I know from past experience'. And I queried what other experience could he possibly have. He argued that it could be possible that he could be discussing future experience. Sounded dodgy to me. Am I wrong that 'past' is an unnecessary adjective here?

Now I for one am a huge fan of linguistic nit-picking, but also of the underdog, so I have to come to your friend's defence, since his argument clearly shows that he cannot come to his own. It's obviously ludicrous to state that one could already "know" from future experience. However, what you've both overlooked is that time tends to be divided into three areas - past and future for sure, but also present. Therefore your friend's case that "past experience" is not a tautology can be made (if a little weakly) by claiming that he's distinguishing it from "current experience".

I am obliged to say that I don't believe a word of the above, but I'm a compulsive Devil's advocate.