I was a little disappointed to see this question (Are there any respectful but strong words to tell people to move faster?) closed on ELL.

There are plenty of ways to tell a pedestrian to get out of the way, but some would be considered a lot more courteous and well-mannered than others. It seems like ELL should be a good place to ask for help in discerning between rude and polite expressions in circumstances such as asking someone to move aside. After all, it's not a rare situation to be in, and it's one where it would be hard for a learner to tell which expressions would be considered socially acceptable, and which would be regarded as brusque.

At least the O.P. got a handful of helpful comments, so I wouldn't regard this closure as a travesty. But I'm wondering when the "primarily opinion-based" reason could be relaxed a little bit. As I carefully examine the close reason, it reads:

answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

I think, "Get out of the way, lady," is not a polite expression, while "Could I get around you, please," would be considered a more polite alternative. Is that just my opinion, or is that me talking with the expertise of a native speaker?

Moreover, the question asks if it's okay to say, "Move your body, please" in that situation. I've never heard anyone request that I "move my body" while trying to get around me, and I probably wouldn't regard that as a very polite way to do so, even though it's perfectly grammatical.

I could have unilaterally reopened this question as a moderator, but this is one of those "six in one hand" cases that could go either way. If the question is to be reopened, I'd rather that come from the community. If not, as I said earlier, I'm glad the O.P. still got some helpful comments, and therefore wasn't left standing in the cold.

| |
  • 1
    Hmm ... on maturer consideration I think you are right, and regret my closevote. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 27 '15 at 1:29
  • 1
    OK, now the question is open, should someone close this thread somehow? (By answering or whatever) – M.A.R. Dec 27 '15 at 12:19
  • @Ϻ.Λ.Ʀ. - I'm open to someone discussing closures of this sort in the general sense, and weighing in on where the dividing lines should be, or what factors should be taken into consideration. – J.R. Dec 27 '15 at 12:22
  • +1 @JR is right, I didn't think it should have been closed – Peter Dec 28 '15 at 9:53

I think we need to waive the "opinion-based" rule for questions of this sort.

As you say, OP got a number of useful responses in the Comments, and it's arguable that leaving matters there would satisfy both our responsibility to the questioner and the SE Canons of Answerability.

But closing the question without an answer means eventually it's going to disappear, along with the comments; and it seems to me that these would be of value to future visitors. Even if no one comes along with the same problem OP describes, there are observations in the comments which would be applicable to a wide variety of situations, which help a learner discern "which expressions would be considered socially acceptable, and which would be regarded as brusque." And that's sorta what we're all about: not just immediately relevant answers, but generalizable answers.

I think we should treat this sort of a question as answerable-under-the-Canons—not with what it asks for on its face, the right way to express a specific request politely, but with a template for expressing any request politely.

| |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .