At this point in time…

11 06 2010

I heard this on yesterday’s TV news, following the tragic, fatal shooting of the Chubb security guard:

Acting Superintendant:

It is my unfortunate position at this point of time to advise that I have been informed that that security officer is now deceased and his family has been notified of the circumstances.

I’m wondering why anyone would use such convoluted and distancing language for the purpose of making this announcement.

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5 responses

12 06 2010
kelly

He didn’t want to be the person making the announcement? Skirting around the words as if not saying them could somehow make them not true? Like talking with your hand over your mouth.

12 06 2010
Gary Birch

The clue might be in his unusual use of “position”. As Kelly has said he didn’t want to be poisitioned as the bearer of bad news and the more formal the language he uses, the further he as a human being is removed from the sad reality. He is on the outside looking in to a point in time.

12 06 2010
ruthwajnryb

Yep I think u both have something here.

I’ve started thinking about it in terms of Goffmanian face. Over-emotionalism in public is considered “leaking” and triggers loss of face. Formal language is the antithesis: it extracts the personal, strips any human connections away, and is frozen – as such it won’t leak, and the bearer of bad news is able to do what he has to do, as well as do it with an acceptably non-emotional solemnity.

Language is amazingly agile in what it allows us to do.

14 06 2010
mark c

Language might be agile alright, but in the hands of a police officer trying to speak using the (passive) written under the pressure of an (oral) interview context – it can certainly betray fissures.

16 06 2010
ruthwajnryb

Fissures – good word for what lies beneath. Thanks.




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