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Weasel Phrases or Domain-Specific Phrases?

 
Marshal
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Last week Paul C posted, “with all due respect,” as one of the three great lies. It isn't a lie, or maybe even not a weasel w‍ord. It is a phrase whose meaning differs from country to country and in some places it means what is says. In Britain, it means exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. If I tell somebody, “With all due respect, that is an unworkable suggestion,” the bit about the suggestion will be the plain unvarnished truth. The bit about respect means there is only disrespect due.
There are lots of other phrases which are domaincountry‑specific like that.
 
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Another one, I think we all heard saying "Excuse me!" in different tone and with a completely opposite meaning, instead of excusing someone for your behaviour, you actually expecting explanation from someone or similar, but definitely not excusing.
 
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There's a Twitter account that I particularly enjoy, it's called Very British Problems

Some recent favs:
  • "That's not how I remember it" - Translation: You've completely made that up
  • "Let's agree to disagree" - Translation: You're wrong but I'm tired
  • "Never mind" - Translation: I've never been so disappointed in my life
  • "Don't take this the wrong way" - Translation: I'm about to be mega insulting
  • "I'm sure it'll be fine" - Meaning: This can only end in disaster
  •  
    Saloon Keeper
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:If I tell somebody, “With all due respect, that is an unworkable suggestion,” the bit about the suggestion will be the plain unvarnished truth. The bit about respect means there is only disrespect due.


    I don't see it quite that way. Respecting a person does not imply agreeing to all their opinions. If I give a thoughtful critique of someone's opinion (even if it means declaring it void of merit), I am respecting the person - I take their opinion seriously, even if I'm about to show it's unworkable. (Unless you mean showing respect or disrespect for an idea - which I don't think is a useful concept.)

    Liutauras Vilda wrote:Another one, I think we all heard saying "Excuse me!" in different tone and with a completely opposite meaning, instead of excusing someone for your behaviour, you actually expecting explanation from someone or similar, but definitely not excusing.


    I think it's meant more like a shortcut for "Excuse me for disagreeing bluntly with your opinion" - something for which IMO no asking for being excused should be needed, as everyone is entitled to their opinion, after all. (Having lived in Germany for quite a while, I can state that most people here wouldn't dream of saying something like that if they disagree with someone - they wold just state their objection plainly.)
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Tim Moores wrote:they wold just state their objection plainly


    I know exactly what you mean, as it is the same in the country where I born. People don't round words. One would say there are advantages in that (simple and clear) on the other hand disadvantages, as it can cause a conflicting situation and argue'ings with the raised voice. Oh well...
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Tim Moores wrote:. . . I don't see it quite that way. . . .

    That is because it is a country‑specific phrase. What I said comprises both disagreement and disrespect. I was showing that as an example of disrespect not disagreement. Remember which forum this is. Remember as Tim pointed out how devious the English language can be.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    I notice a lot of people from India on the Beginning forum seem to think that “kindly” as in

    For the 82352358268th time, kindly indent your code.

    ...means the same as “please”.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Tim will remember as a child being reported not at school because he was poorly. In this part of the country you can be poorly at any age.
    Across the Pond, isn't poorly only an adverb? Would you think, “Poorly what?”
     
    Java Cowboy
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    The Dutch are known for their directness, apparently this is a thing that expats in the Netherlands have to get used to.

    Even our Belgian neighbours think that we are direct and rude.
     
    Tim Cooke
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    Campbell has just reminded me that even in the same country the same words can mean different things from different people. For example:

    Male:
    "I'm fine". Translation: "I'm fine"

    Female:
    "I'm fine". Translation: "You're three misplaced words away from certain death"
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Female:
    "I'm fine".

    So why you then angry on me?  
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Neither a weasel phrase nor a third great lie, but a British half‑and‑half:-

    Straight on. It's only about a quarter‑mile. You can't miss it.

     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Jesper de Jong wrote:The Dutch are known for their directness . . .

    Which the English aren't known for. That is why we have so many devious phrases.

    Another which springs to mind is

    By all means, ...

     
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    (I'm from the US.)

    "No offence, but..." means "I'm about to say something really offensive."

    In some southern states, people will end their sentences with "...bless their heart!"  This means, "I've just said something nasty about a person but I don't want to admit it."  As in, "Nancy is having trouble keeping her weight down, bless her heart!"
     
    Tim Cooke
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    Knute Snortum wrote:"Nancy is having trouble keeping her weight down, bless her heart!"


    To me that sounds patronising.

    In the UK there is a special version of "we" referred to as "the Royal we" which means everybody except themselves. I'm sure this is observed across the World with different phrasing.
     
    Knute Snortum
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    My wife and I call that the "Spousal We."  "We" meaning "you."  "We really need to clean up the kitchen!"  I guess it could also be the Medical We, used by doctors and nurses: "How are we feeling today?"
     
    It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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