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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Keeping Joe Happy, Just Because

Can you recall a moment in your life when a word you commonly use took on brand new significance?

About 15 years ago, I was a witness in a Grand Jury proceeding. When the district attorney asked me to recount a purse snatching I'd observed, everything was fine until I uttered the word "because". He abruptly interrupted me mid-sentence and said "Please return to telling me what you observed, Mr. Barton, not your guesses as to the reasons".

How often do we use the word "because" without realizing we have moved into the story-telling realm? I can honestly say that moment was a true awakening for me. I'd never before considered how the word because can be roughly equivalent to "Once upon a time...." Nothing wrong with fairy tales, provided we know we're making them up. But when trying to be accurate describing something, best to remember Sargent Joe Friday's advice - "Just the facts, ma'am; just the facts." Mixing because with facts? Joe would not be pleased.   

1 comment:

  1. When you offer a "because" it becomes not an observation but an explanation. Observations should be objective and explanations are subjective. Two very different things.
    About that guest post.... I have some great ideas but have to apply my rear to the chair and just do it! (No because involved).