Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Attenuated regret

H H Munro (Saki)
source

Reggie listened with the attenuated regret that one bestows on an earthquake disaster in Bolivia or a crop failure in Eastern Turkestan, events which seem so distant that one can almost persuade oneself they haven’t happened.
H H Munro (Saki) - The Toys of Peace and Other Papers (1919)

Every now and then one comes across a gem of a phrase which perfectly encapsulates an aspect of social behaviour. To my mind, one such is attenuated regret as Saki used it. 

Did he invent this delicious phrase? I don't know, but a Google search for "attenuated regret" only gives around 218 results which is appalling for something so delightfully precise.

TV news readers have special facial expressions for attenuated regret, used when reporting disaster or tragic misfortune.

I wonder if they practice in front of the mirror, adjusting their features to achieve the correct degree of attenuation while at the same time preserving a clear semblance of regret? 

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4 comments:

Sackerson said...

But if newsreaders didn't do it?

A K Haart said...

Sackers - maybe we'd learn to clear our minds of cant.

Woodsy42 said...

It sits alongside the disinterested apologies expressed by failed politicians and government agencies.

A K Haart said...

Woodsy - lessons have been learned.