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12 June 2005

Moratorium on "telling" Can we have a moratorium on the expression "that's very telling"? (Voluntary, of course). It's just a way of accusing someone of something based on nothing more than a hunch, but phrasing it such that it doesn't sound like a hunch but a fact.
why? some statements are very telling.
posted by amberglow 12 June | 14:24
I've yet to see one.
posted by bugbread 12 June | 14:25
Here you go: MR. RUSSERT: Ali said that Osama bin Laden is in Iraq--in Iran, excuse me.

REP. WELDON: He's been in Iran, and now we have military generals telling us that. Interestingly enough, the CIA totally refuted that when I first went to them. And by the way, the person who gave me this entire lead was a former Democrat member of Congress.

MR. RUSSERT: Can you believe that Osama bin Laden is in Iran today?

REP. WELDON: Today, I don't know. I gave the CIA hits over the past five months that he was there twice, and I also told them two years ago he was in a small town in a southern part of Iran called Ladiz, 10 kilometers inside the border with Pakistan in Baluchistan. I'd say he's been in and out repeatedly.
--from here

I'd call that telling, in a bunch of ways.
posted by amberglow 12 June | 14:27
I could scour around for background on it but bugbread, it's a pretty normal expression. Why does it irk you? God knows there's other examples of twisted english out there...

'begs the question'
'speaks to *****'

Why has this one jumped up and bitten you particularly? Heaps of people use it.
posted by peacay 12 June | 14:49
Nyah, nyah, nyah! I'm telling mum, so there!
posted by deborah 12 June | 15:31
I suppose because of the way it's being used (largely in MeFi). It seems like it's largely used to impugn that someone is racist, sexist, homophobic, or the like, even though they haven't said anything directly indicating they are. For example, if someone says their role models are A, B, C, D, and E, someone else will say "He didn't list any blacks as role models. That's very telling." It allows the person who uses the phrase to make an accusation without actually saying the words, which is a cheap way of allowing yourself room to wiggle out later if it turns out you were wrong ("I didn't say you were racist. I just said it was very telling."), and it assigns a sense of fact to something that is one person's suspicions ("I think you're a closet racist" puts the emphasis fairly both on the accusation and the fact that the speaker thinks the subject is a racist, whereas "that is very telling" puts the entire emphasis on the weakly supported contention, and none on the fact that this is just a suspicion of the speaker)

Nothing has particularly jumped up and bitten me, though. It's been slowly growing more popular and more annoying, with people throwing around charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like with greater abandon behind the shield of plausible deniability and offloading of reponsibility.
posted by bugbread 12 June | 15:36
"Ah!" he said archly. "That would be telling."

I suppose the reply would be "C'mon, spit it out."

Then there is always the classic "Ve haff vays of makink you talk!" but that hasn't been so funny since Gitmo and Co.
posted by warbaby 12 June | 15:43
(The fact that I don't like the phrase is, I'll assume for safety's sake, very telling)
posted by bugbread 12 June | 15:43
I do think that things are sometimes telling, but I agree with bugbread (although for a slightly different reason). My problem with the phrase is that it's a kind of rhetorical shorthand that cannot be countered because it has no explicit content. I think it reduces arguments to insinuation (as bugbread points out) many times at precisely the moment that they need to be expanded. Even in amberglows example, which I do think is telling, the use of the phrase begs us to question (heh) why is it telling? What does it tell us? What do we make of what it tells us? All questions that are too often elided in the use of the phrase itself.
posted by omiewise 12 June | 15:44
(Personally, I just don't have enough of a political background to have any idea of what amberglow's example is telling. I'm sure it's a good example, but I can't tell because of my underpoliticization)
posted by bugbread 12 June | 15:51
Let me get back to you on that...I'll have too sleep on that one...that is to say,
of course...if you will...that is, if I may coin a phrase...mind to speak...
posted by Smart Dalek 12 June | 16:07
here you go bugbread--Katie Holmes doesn't know how she met Tom Cruise either
posted by amberglow 12 June | 16:16
...(who is Katie Holmes?)
posted by bugbread 12 June | 16:19
wait, what?
on preview-wait, what?
posted by omiewise 12 June | 16:19
buggy, are you homesick?
posted by mlis 12 June | 16:45
Not particularly.
posted by bugbread 12 June | 17:07
Personally, I hate people who make "impact" into a verb. Just the other day, I passed a sign on the window of an Office Depot that promised to help me make my presentations "impactful." I swear I almost walked in the store and throttled someone.

Katie Holmes doesn't know how she met Tom Cruise either

Now that is very telling.
posted by Tacky O. Assis 13 June | 00:05
"Katie Holmes doesn't know how she met Tom Cruise either" gay bar?
posted by arse_hat 13 June | 00:20
Save Katie
posted by peacay 13 June | 00:27
you'd think they would have made up some cute story, but apparently they didn't. And he apparently interviewed Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner for the job as beard first--too pathetic.
posted by amberglow 13 June | 00:28
I wonder if this is telling or begs the question or is just plain strange.
And by the way, now you've explained it, I understand what you mean bugbread. I don't know that I'd agree to a moratorium but rather, people ought to be held accountable for their words or they should be made to clarify and back up their insinuations.
posted by peacay 13 June | 00:30
I don't see that Tom Sizemore thing as telling because they're too outfront about it. It's when they evade, or bring up something weirdly or loadedly, that something is telling, i think.
posted by amberglow 13 June | 00:42
also, with the Tom Cruise stuff, if you are blunt about it, you get sued by him immediately--he's famous for it. All these people have to dance around the real issue of his being gay and faking a relationship due to that. It makes it immensely more entertaining tho.
posted by amberglow 13 June | 00:44
I have not liked Tom Cruise in most anything. I love Paul Newman in anything but Cruise ruined The Color of Money for me. Much as it pains me to say it Stanley Kubrick could not impress me with Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut. The only time Cruise has impressed me was in Magnolia. What the hell did Paul Thomas Anderson dig into?
posted by arse_hat 13 June | 00:58
it's because he played a little crazy and not nice in Magnolia, i think--a taste of the real Cruise maybe?
posted by amberglow 13 June | 01:05
You may be right. He always strikes me as someone with some serious repressed anger.
posted by arse_hat 13 June | 01:10
Oh I LOVE Eyes Wide Shut. I don't like all Cruise stuff but he's made some interesting films - V.Sky and that Japanese Samurai one ---- those 3 are good films for mine. All personal taste of course. But the Kidman body puts me over the line for EWS, if nothing else. I thought Magnolia, though good, was waaay too long.
I'd like to see the one in the taxi with the Ray Charles actor too - heard good reports. (shit, I'm hopeless with movie names...guess I could look them up, but you know what I'm sayin').
posted by peacay 13 June | 02:07
"At the end of the day" has to be my number one hate. It's completely infected the latest series of Big Brother, and it never fails to set my teeth on edge.

"At the end of the day, it's like I said..."

:: shudders ::
posted by seanyboy 13 June | 07:34
I was not impressed by Cruise's role in Magnolia.
If anything, it showed Anderson taking a too-obvious dig at Henry Rollins.
posted by Smart Dalek 13 June | 07:39
seanyboy, at the end of the day, it's very telling, no? ; >
posted by amberglow 13 June | 08:19
"At the end of the day" has to be my number one hate.
I use this quite a bit but try hard not to. It makes me sound like a football manager.
posted by dodgygeezer 13 June | 08:29
seanyboy, at the end of the day, it's very telling, no?

That says more about you than it does about seanyboy.
posted by bugbread 13 June | 09:02
Mine is "Let me pick your brain". I don't think I need to elaborate.
posted by taz 13 June | 10:02
"Mine is "Let me pick your brain"."
Still better than "let me pick your nits"
posted by arse_hat 13 June | 10:57
posted by Hugh Janus 13 June | 10:58
That says more about you than it does about seanyboy.

See? Now you're getting the hang of it. : >
posted by amberglow 13 June | 11:02

Same difference.
posted by bugbread 13 June | 12:34
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