De ‘maar-regel’

Luidt als volgt: ‘de tekst na het woord ‘maar’ is dominant ten opzichte van de tekst voorafgaand.’ Rhetorische les. Nuttig bij gesprekken over Charlie Hebdo. Vergelijk: “Ik ben natuurlijk tegen geweld maar je moet niet mensen beledigen die onderdrukt worden” met: “Je moet natuurlijk niet mensen beledigen die onderdrukt worden, maar ik ben tegen geweld.” In ieder debat goed om mee te oefenen, omdat het je helpt begrijpen wat je eigenlijk wilt zeggen.

NB enkele lezers zeiden dat de link niet werkt. Bij wijze van uitzondering hieronder het volledige artikel:

Jim’s Rule of Buts

I searched the blog, thinking that I must have written about the titular subject of this blog entry at some point, but I can find no evidence that I did. So let’s do so. It may stand as one of my few legitimate contributions to human interaction.

Jim’s Rule of Buts states, “In any charged conversation, find any statements containing the conjunction ‘but’ and reverse the clauses.”

This is a self-editing rule, and therefore most practical for written communication until you get the hang of it. But once you do, you can start applying it to verbal communication as well, if only because of the disreputable fact that we spend most of the time others are speaking planning what we’re going to say next rather than listening. Or so they say.

The most obvious example of the power of Jim’s Rule of Buts is the classic apology. Compare, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but what you said made me really angry.” and “What you said made me really angry, but I’m sorry I yelled at you.” As acoordinating conjunction, ‘but’ joins independent and theoretically equal clauses. But in practice, what follows ‘but’ always dominates what precedes it. So if you really want to apologize, and really want to mollify your interlocutor, you really want to make sure the apology itself is in the dominant position. Otherwise, you’re not apologizing; you’re excusing your own conduct.

I thought about the more general case of the rule reading Dr. T’s piece from yesterday. I also don’t want to hear you say, “Well, now, obviously I don’t support violence, but you really shouldn’t be offending [oppressed] people…” But I’m fine with you saying, “Well, now, obviously you really shouldn’t be offending [oppressed] people, but I don’t support violence.”

Jim’s Rule of Buts is about proportion, and being aware just where you are bestowing your grace. We have a deep impulse to bestow it on ourselves, at others’ expense, without even realizing it. And others have just as good an ear for us doing it. So if you really want to soothe rather than rile, learn Jim’s Rule of Buts today! It will do you good for many days to come.