Due to a fairly recent change in my view of the matter (though I can’t find the entry where this was previously discussed), the phrase “With all due respect” is not used in the comments at this site. I edit it out or change it to something else, such as “With respect.” My reason is that the expression, “With all due respect,” which supposedly is a way of showing respect, is actually—though without any intention on the part of the speaker—implying that to the extent that the speaker’s interlocutor does not agree with the speaker, he does not deserve respect. And that is no way for people to talk to each other in a collegial setting. Therefore I think it is better either to to leave out the phrase, or to say, “With respect,” which conveys respect to the other person notwithstanding any disagreements, than to say, “With all due respect,” which implies that the speaker’s respect for the other person is contingent on the other person’s agreeing with the speaker. Again, I am not saying that people who use this common expression intend disrespect. Generally it’s quite the opposite. I am saying that an implied disrespect is built into the expression.

- end of initial entry -

Bill W. writes:

With respect, I disagree with you on the meaning of “with all due respect.” I don’t know why anyone would think that it implies that respect for a person is conditional upon agreeing with him in every instance. I work as a physician in the military, and am often faced with disagreeing with superiors within either the medical or the rank hierarchy. I say “with all due respect” as an precursor to disagreeing with a person as a way of implicitly stating that my respect for the person (which is “due,” based on rank or medical experience) persists, my disagreement notwithstanding. I do agree with you, however, that “with respect” is a more elegant and graceful way of saying it.


Bill W.

Jim C. writes:

Bottom line, the phrase is redundant and illogical: why would one want to apologize in advance because of a disagreement. It’s a dumb affectation.

N. writes:

With all due respect to your position, it is something that few websites would even consider, that few writers would even think of, in these modern times. Far too many writers engaged in scoring points on each other, pretending to engage in debate.

Also, “with all due respect” has become a kind of tic, a space-filler of a phrase in many cases, with no semantic value at all. A more sophisticated version of “like, uh … ” if you will.

So with all due respect, I respect and support your decision.

Jake F. writes:

I certainly meant no disrespect. I can see what you mean, though, and respect your judgment on the issue.

July 2

M. Jose writes:

I think that Bill is right—it means that a person is questioning a superior, but is not threatening to disobey if his concerns are not addressed. The “due” part is to indicate that you understand that the person is entitled to your respect and that your respect is not conditional.

I think the phrase probably loses meaning outside of the context of a hierarchy.

Leonard D. writes:

Good policy.

“Due respect” has a place, but rarely online. One should only say that when one addresses someone who is due respect because of the relationship, for example, if you address a military superior (as Bill W. does). Respect is due in many relationships, but such relationships are rare between people interacting online.

“All due respect” is used a lot online facetiously. If I say to an online interlocutor, “With all due respect, X,” what I am really saying is “X,” and “Reminder: I owe you no respect.” The implication is thus something in between just asserting “X,” and saying “Disrespectfully, X.” It gets used often because a lot of people will read it as “Respectfully, X.” So it is a way for a more educated person subtly to mock a less educated person. I do not think this sort of usage is appropriate for VFR.

“Due respect” can also be used to disambiguate a sentence in the situation where you want to follow “with respect” with “to,” since “with respect to” also means regarding. For example, consider this: “Does the 2nd amendment cover nuclear weapons?” “With due respect to the Founders, no.” Replacing “with all due respect” with “with respect,” you get an ambiguity: “Does the 2nd amendment cover nuclear weapons?” “With respect to the Founders, no.”

LA replies:

On a different subject, but still related to usage:

Leonard had originally written:

So it is a way for a more educated person to subtly mock a less educated person.

Fixing the split infinitive, I changed the sentence to:

So it is a way for a more educated person subtly to mock a less educated person.

To resist the split infinitive in our culture has become more difficult than in the past, because some establishment publications, including most importantly the New York Times, have in recent years adopted the split infinitive after having previously rejected it. The Times is now filled with the split infinitive to such an extent it’s almost as if its writers go out of their way to split infinitives, which is what happens when standards are overthrown. Breaking the old standard becomes the new standard.

None of this changes the fact that good writers in English avoid the split infinitive.

Here is a previous discussion on the split infinitive, in which I corrected a fellow conservative blogger who had used a doubly split infinitive.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 30, 2011 07:53 PM | Send

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