Magazine article Insight on the News

Verboten Verbiage

Magazine article Insight on the News

Verboten Verbiage

Article excerpt

Please don't talk about President George W. Bush over the vichyssoise. "As the president was telling me the other day" is one of the more serious faux pas one can make in polite company when one is at the table, or anywhere else for that matter. This, according to none other than the Emily Post Institute, which has ranked the phrase No. 9 on its list of "10 Conversational Blunders," right between "I can see I'll have to simplify this for you" and "You know, like, I mean."

"Well, it's that old name-dropping thing," says Peggy Post, great-granddaughter of the famed manners maven. "But in Washington this could actually be a factual statement in some circles, so we might make a careful exception. For most people, though, it would not be the most gracious thing to say."

What not to say has become a high art in our society. There are lists of conversational taboos for funerals, weddings, oral dissertations, hospital rooms and intimate moments. Recommendations abound for constructive dialogues with troubled children, ex-spouses, errant neighbors, drunks and the owners of unruly dogs.

The Watertown Art Association in Kentucky, for example, offers "13 Things Not to Say to an Artist. …

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