“The language is evolving …”

I know that, but I’d still like to know what YOU think about this sentence, which I heard this summer while camping in England: “We are currently having to deal with a large volume of calls and are unable to answer you now”. It may be (un)acceptable in different contexts, so please fill in this mini-survey (one sentence only) and let me know.

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4 Responses to “The language is evolving …”

  1. dembart says:

    Hi. I’m not sure I understand the question that you’re asking about in your mini-survey. Is there an error of grammar or usage and you’re trying to find out how many people think it’s an error of grammar or usage? Or are you asking whether people think it’s impolite to answer phone calls with such a message?

    • I think this is a great question – thank you for asking it! Politeness didn’t seem to be an issue to me when I heard it over the phone. I just thought the grammar was odd. There is a similar sentence in another survey (https://bridgingtheunbridgeable.com/2022/07/28/interactive-teamwork-survey/), and for the workshop I will be giving, I’d like to be able to compare attitudes to both sentences, so to the language itself, not to whether it is polite or impolite (did you think it was impolite?).

      • Lee Dembart says:

        Thanks very much for your reply. I asked about the sentence in your survey because, though I am usually very sensitive to errors of grammar and usage, real and imagined, I fail to see what the potential error is in your sentence. Where is the problem? What do some people object to? What am I missing?

        Because I didn’t see any grammatical error, I thought maybe the objection was that the message itself was impolite. Yes, I sometimes think such messages are indeed that. They are obviously lies, and they assume that callers who believe them are idiots. When a recorded message begins, “Your call is important to us,” I want to shout, “If my call is important to you, why don’t hire people to answer the phone?”

  2. Graham B. says:

    I agree with Lee’s view and comment. As one who has lived in Britain long enough to know, whatever one thinks of this kind of usage it is an utterly common example of current commercial-ese and I agree with those who see that as a shame.

    I suspect that those under 50 yers of age shall have little or no idea how anything about it might strike someone as at all strange or in any way incorrect.

    My objection to it is based strictly on its nonsensical character in a recorded message addressed to any callers and at what is virtually certain to be at any time. No one supervises the message’s actual pertinence to changing conditions. Rather, it is a recording which is “always ‘on’”. Welcome to life in present-day Britain.

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