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spikey eye bw



Musings, questions and brief essays. The normal.

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spikey eye bw
Why do people say "work colleague"? What other kinds of colleague are there? I never hear people refer to a [something else] colleague, but they do talk about "someone I'm running an event with" or "someone else on the committee" or similar. Why, then, do so many people tend to qualify the word "colleague" in what amounts to nothing but tautology?

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Don't ask me, I'm going to stop by the ATM machine on my way to Torpenhow Hill.

You'll need your PIN number.

Is this to pay for your ticket to the TUC Congress?

I'd actually prefer to catch something at the NEC centre.

Hmm, sounds like you have a bad case of RAS syndrome.

Not just any PIN number - your personal PIN number.

Judges and lawyers will often refer to other judges and lawyers as "my learned colleague". Also, to some extent, academics who are referring to (usually insulting) other academics use the phrase to denote someone who is in the same discipline as them, but is associated with a different institution. Also someone who is on a (non-sports related) team with you (e.g. a quiz team) might well be referred to as a colleague. So a work colleague is a specialised instance of a colleague, although it is probably now by far the commonest usage.

But all your first examples involve people talking about people that they work with - academics encounter other academics, lawyers are familiar with the work of their peers and probably meet and discuss stuff. They're people you encounter at work, doing broadly similar stuff to yourself.

And yes, someone on my quiz team might get the term "colleague" applied to them, but people doing that are unlikely to qualify it as "quiz team colleague" - they're more likely to use the phrase in a tongue in cheek manner, eg "my colleague here feels the answer is wasp, but we as a team have gone for badger". When "person at work" is the default understanding of the term colleague, why is it so common for people to try to add precision?

To draw a parallel, people often talk about "the office", in phrases like "When I got to the office...", "The office is really empty today...", or "I didn't leave the office until 9pm". I don't hear people say "work office" or "workplace office" or "[company name] office" (unless they're talking about an off-site one, maybe a customer's place where they were at a meeting).

It just seems weird to me.

Academics aren't necessarily working with each other though - while engineering and law lecturers could be described as doing "broadly similar work" in that they both lecture to groups of students I doubt they'd encounter each other except at cross-faculty events such as graduations. Which is where "colleague" as distinct from "work colleague" would probably be used. In science at least people refer to colleagues as meaning people doing broadly similar research who they aren't actually collaborating with ("our collaborators") or competing against ("those bastards"). While you may communicate or meet up with them at conferences as part of your work they're not actually work colleagues, in that you don't see them every day in your workplace.

I suppose I might use 'colleague' for someone I was working alongside in a non-renumerative context, but I'd be more likely to say 'fellow committee member' or somesuch, or simply make it clear we're working on the same project.

I see the tautology as not "wrong" per se, just adding in redundancy. We say things twice all the time in different ways.

In English we seem to pick up on phrases and use them without really thinking about the components of the phrase. So probably people have gotten to thinking of "work colleague" as just one phrase, and not two separate ways of saying the same thing.

FWIW I use "colleague" or "industry colleague" ro refer to fellow journos, and "work colleague" to refer to people who inhabit the same office.

It's like when people say "it woke me up from sleep" what else would you wake up from??

Anaesthetic maybe?! I thought of another couple of examples:

- 4am in the morning
- returned back

You're still asleep under anaesthetic though.

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