Notes From Babel

With all due respect…

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As I waited for my case to be called for hearing at court last week, I observed an attorney try to turn the judge from his tentative ruling against her client. I cringed as she uttered the first words of her argument: “With all due respect, Your Honor…”  The judge stopped the poor attorney right there, and proceeded to give a lecture on his policy against the use of those words, in that order, in his court room.  Why do attorneys insist on adding more words to otherwise simple expressions? the judge mused.  While certainly the poor young attorney hadn’t meant to suggest any ambiguity as to the quantum of respect “due” the court, the judge, and any other practitioner of language who insists on assuming that each word be given its meaning, cannot help but wonder.

“With respect” will do just fine, if respect is intended.  Otherwise, you can simply give the audience all the respect that is due—which may very well be none at all.

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Written by Tim Kowal

August 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Language

Tagged with ,

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