Language qualifiers

Discussion created by anadyr on Jan 27, 2014
Latest reply on Feb 14, 2014 by anadyr

OK, admit it, we all tell White Lies, or maybe just I do


So, in reading a Journal Article recently I found some enlightening language about language:



WSJ's Elizabeth Bernstein writes "Language experts have textbook names for these phrases—"performatives," or "qualifiers." Essentially, taken alone, they express a simple thought, such as "I am writing to say…" At first, they seem harmless, formal, maybe even polite. But coming before another statement, they often signal that bad news, or even some dishonesty on the part of the speaker, will follow."



"Politeness is another word for deception," says James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department of the University of Texas at Austin, who studies these phrases. "The point is to formalize social relations so you don't have to reveal your true self."

In other words, "if you're going to lie, it's a good way to do it—because you're not really lying. So it softens the blow," Dr. Pennebaker says. "



I just got off the phone with COMCAST (not a fun thing to do but sometimes it is necessary, like getting haircuts and regular bathing.  In speaking to an overseas person then a supervisor in Colorado (Rocky Mountain High?) I heard some of these performatives in action, making me wonder if it was a script they were reading from.  I would assume that most of what they said was truthful but you never know.  Promises made with performatives often lead to broken promises, poor TV reception, slower Internet speeds and the like.



Ironically the person in Colorado had to call me back because the COMCAST voice connection on which I had called was so poor we could barely hear each other!



Any thoughts on being lied to even in a nice way?  "Don't take this the wrong way, to be perfectly honest, I am serious."