On the magisterial tone, and why everyone should (mostly) avoid it

On the magisterial tone, and why everyone should (mostly) avoid it
TL:DR: (I believe) In conversation, you should verbally only put yourself forward as authority, or as the judge or arbiter of something, when you really, really are competent and expert on the point you are making. Otherwise, it is a unforced rhetorical error. (Generally speaking.) What I call “the magisterial tone” is a well-worn form of expression in English, and in other languages as well (especially German and Latin) which, by using words and phrases, the speaker attempts to imply that they really, really know what they are talking about, that other views on the point are inadequate, and that the matter ought thereafter be closed to discussion. Here come de judge— and the judge has banged the gavel, rendering a decision.
This is something articulate and voluble people, of all ages, do; and I encounter it frequently on Facebook and elsewhere. One easy example: When the writer — or speaker, in conversation — commonly resorts to forms of “to be” verbs in describing some assessment of their own. It sounds like the judgement is rendered from “on high” — “This is That. It is Nothing But That. Shut Up.”
Life — your life and my life — is not overseen by an omniscient narrator, at least, not one that you or I can reliably speak for. Almost everything we post can and possibly should be viewed as carrying a silent, ‘…or so it seems to me.’ Or maybe an explicit one. Now, there are certainly times when the magisterial, or authoritative voice is called for, and the best choice. When you are speaking from actual expertise, for example. For example, “That is not how the PCI bus works” * may be perfectly valid, accurate, and the most economical way to move the discussion along. But adding snark that implies, “But you dumb fucks don’t really get this, do you?” wrecks the otherwise useful point you might have established. It’s verbal bullying, pure and simple, and no one should do it. And it doesn’t work.
Now, the opposite of the magisterial tone is what I will call Namby-Pamby-speak. This sort of talk includes a lot of “Sorry, ….” and “I know, but…” This can also easily be overdone. “Sorry, but I really think that is an explosive combination, would you consider putting that down?” is not what you want to be saying, just then, right?
And, some equal time for opposing views: http://www.businessinsider.com/stop… “It’s just that…” & “Never” & “Always” and even “Clearly” are traps, but not necessarily tied to one gender or the other. I always will remember Dick Cheney using “Clearly” as his ‘tell’ — what it meant was “I have absolutely no factual basis for the next words coming out of my mouth.” See also: “In fact.” **
*I made that up. I actually don’t have much knowledge of PCI buses, except that some things fit in them and others don’t. Being able to read Wikipedia entries, etc. doesn’t make anyone an expert on anything significant.
**This authoritative ‘tone’ and ‘voice’ thing is related to the nonce-word, ‘mansplaining’ but applies, I think, a broader application of it. Everybody does it, sometimes.
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