another query (re catch phrases)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 18 00:15:56 UTC 2010

At 5:55 PM -0400 6/17/10, Wilson Gray wrote:
>I don't get out much, anymore. So, the language may very well have
>evolved in ways that I'm unaware of, but, IAC, I find it hard to
>imagine using either of these in business correspondence.
>I'm familiar with _reach out to_ only from TV-cop-show jargon, wherein
>it's always used WRT string-pulling. The cops "reach out to" their
>police-academy classmates and former partners who have transferred
>out,  been promoted, have retired, or whoever in order to have a favor
>"I was going to have Smith transferred back to walking a beat, but he
>reached out to the assistant chief, an academy buddy of his dad."

Right, I'm familiar with that too from the same type of sources, but
I've never thought of reaching out to in that sense--pulling strings,
as you say, or using the old blue network, whatever--as being closely
related to the reaching out in the sense of comforting (with the
implication of emotional energy involved, going out on a limb, etc.)
that we have in the "thank you for reaching out" formula.  The latter
strikes me as a bit treacly (if it's not purely formulaic), the way
"thank you for sharing" became before it became virtually unusable
without intended sarcasm.


The American Dialect Society -

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