I'm Sorry, But May We Discuss Tentative Speech?

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A recent New York Times opinion piece claimed that women apologize all the time - even when something is not their fault. It's known as "tentative" or "indirect" speech, when people - usually women - start their sentences with "I'm sorry" or "If you don't mind." Is this something you do? Have you tried to change the way you speak - or do you use it to your advantage? We'll dig into the nuances of tentative speech... if you don't mind us doing that.


Robin Lakoff, UC Berkeley professor emerita in linguistics

Deborah Tannen, Georgetown University professor of linguistics

Cristen Conger, co-creator and host of "Stuff Mom Never Told You"