empty void

Lorena1970

Banned
Italy, Italiano
Hi all,:)

Today, whilst attending an architecture symposium which official language was English, an Italian delegate pronounced a sentence that, in my view, could be nothing but a mistake. Then I start thinking over it, asking myself if, a part from being an error for sure in his case, that sentence could anyway be meaningful.

Here it is " The square was an empty void" (I assume he wanted to say "The square was an URBAN void").

He was talking about a project done in an Italian square used as car parking until the communal authority decided to ask someone to build an ephemeral "multipurpose" piece of architecture. So, whilst describing the design process, he got probably confused and pronounced that expression, "empty void".

To me "empty void" doesn't make much sense. I mean: empty means void, so how can you qualify the term "void" with and adjective meaning the same…???:eek:

Anyway, this sort of "uncanny" expression made me muse on various concepts, and in the and I decided to submit this to your attention, so to check wether "empty void" is a complete nonsense, or if it sounds meaningful to a native ear (and if so, how can the expression be used).

Thank you!
 
  • JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I don't know, Teddy. If you google "empty void," you get a lot of hits, and many of them are pretty clearly written by native speakers. I think it's just a redundancy - perhaps for emphasis, perhaps because it just sounds kind of cool, perhaps because people don't really think about what void means.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    In a world of "free gifts," "PIN Numbers," "honest truth," "exact same," "serious crisis," "legal evidence,"etc. It surprises me not a little tiny bit that somebody would inject an unneeded redundancy such as "empty void" into a talk speech. :D
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    An architect might see a void in a city as any space with no buildings. They might be fine with "a tree-filled void." ;)
     

    Lorena1970

    Banned
    Italy, Italiano
    In a world of "free gifts," "PIN Numbers," "honest truth," "exact same," "serious crisis," "legal evidence,"etc. It surprises me not a little tiny bit that somebody would inject an unneeded redundancy such as "empty void" into a talk speech.


    Hi, you nailed it! At least you focused the reason for I start thinking over this expression. As said, I am sure it was a mistake, and that delegate didn't use this expression consciously, meaning "an urban void"instead, which is a common expression in urbanism and architecture to refer to any low-quality empty space not occupied by buildings. Or maybe he wanted to say "empty space". "empty space" + "urban void" can generate "empty void".
    At same time I started thinking of this nonsense as something that could have a "certain" sense, in the contemporary world of nonsense expressions like those you mentioned, because an "empty void" sounds uncanny, and somewhat fascinating. But of course I needed the opinion of native speaking people before using it to describe a void which is not only physical (like a square is) but also emotional and conceptual. I hope I have been able to explain myself properly.

    Thank you all: let's see if someone else has other ideas!
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't know, Teddy. If you google "empty void," you get a lot of hits, and many of them are pretty clearly written by native speakers. I think it's just a redundancy - perhaps for emphasis, perhaps because it just sounds kind of cool, perhaps because people don't really think about what void means.
    I agree with you, sorry you found my post confusing. I meant that the average native speaker of English has not had his consciousness raised about the concept of tautology, and so is happy to say empty void.
     
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