Posts tagged ‘conversation’

October 16th, 2012

Rallying the Tropes

by Karen Jeynes

Humans really are remarkable. We’ve put a rover on Mars, freefallen from the edge of space, allowed the Kardashians to become international celebrities, and developed an odd quirk of language I like to think of as a verbal “Pre-emptive Strike”. It’s a clause which we put at the beginning of a sentence to ostensibly apologise for what is about to come without for one second meaning it, a tactical manoeuvre in a conversational war.

The first zinger is “with respect”, which means, as you may have guessed “I don’t respect you, but I should, so I’m going to excuse my disrespectful remarks by prefacing them with this meaningless nicety.” If you don’t respect someone to such an extent that you actively dislike them, you can extend this to “with all due respect” or even “with all due respect sir/your honour”. The longer the phrase, the further the distance between the amount of respect expected and the amount actually accorded.