Lately I’m getting more and more emails that contain a quick line of conciliatory auto-blather at the bottom like this:

Is this a new “thing”? (Yes, I’m squinting and making quote-mark signs in the air right now). What could possibly be the value in this? Imagine extending this same convention to spoken conversation:

“Hey, I’m ordering food– you guys want anything? Please do not hesitate to ask me if there are any questions or queries regarding the preceding question.”

“No, Dan– we’re fine.”

“Alright, back in a few minutes then. Please do not hesitate to ask me if there are–”


8 thoughts on “Auto-blather”

  1. “Concilaltory” is just the word. Or one might say “premptively conciliatory–the listener isn’t given a chance to be pissed, “Have a good day” is the most extreme instance of this phenomenon. Actually, that’s a very nice thing to say. What better could you wish someone? It’s both touching and auto-blather; I’m always baffled by it.

    Auto-blather can come at the start of a communication as well as at the end. I remember reading a letter of advice from the author Harold Nicolson to one of his sons who was away from home at an English public school (prep school). The advice was to avoid sounding abrupt by prefacing a question or statement with “I say . . . . ” Nicolson’s example: Not “Have you seen my Latin book?” but “I say, Higgins, have you seen my Latin book?”

  2. No, I haven’t seen those disclaimers. Is it worth translating and posting one?

  3. I’m sure it was thought up by some consultant who convinced everyone that we would feel that we are getting better service. Doesn’t work for me either.

  4. Don’t forget “rhetorical greeting blather”. I know many a European exchange student who has been confused / insulted when a North American says “How are you?” and then immediately walks away.

  5. Thanks for raising the issue of “rhetorical greeting blather. “How are you?” is especially irksome form of blather for me. When someone asks me that, the expected answer “fine” would be grossly inaccurate at most times in by life; on the other hand, I’m obviously not going to launch into a more nuanced answer that refers to my problems of the moment. So I have to say “Fine”, even though that’s so incomplete an answer as to amount to an untruth.

    By the same token, I’d rather not ask someone else that question because 1) it would put him/her in the same awkward position that I experience (and have just described), and 2) in casual encounters, where I don’t know the person well, will not seem him/her again, etc., I don’t really care how they are. Asking them is hypocritical. But I have to ask anyway, otherwise I appear rude and churlish.

    Is “rhetorical greeting blather” prevalent in other countries, or is it peculiar to the US?

  6. Hahaha! Yesss! I’ve been wondering too…as I’ve read my share of emails with this line. I shall not say aloud the name of this person 😀

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