What I mean to say is “frankly”

There’s this phrase, “To be honest.”

I try not to use that phrase.

Was I not honest before? Am I just now turning a new page toward truth? Hopefully, I was telling the truth before. Hopefully, I’m honest all the time, so what I mean is, “Frankly.”

“Frankly” implies that I’m about to be blunt with what I say. And that’s fine. We all realize that most communication isn’t completely blunt. If it were, that last sentence would have said, “Communication isn’t blunt.”

In many Asian languages, they have different levels of politeness that conjugate words differently. They use different words – different endings, different forms of words – depending on how formal the situation requires.

In English, we have different levels of politeness. We just don’t conjugate differently (for the most part). As a buddy of mine, a fellow English teacher in South Korea, once told me, we add more words when we want to be polite. So “Pass the gravy” turns into “Martha, may I please have some gravy?” and “Yo bud” turns into “Excuse me, please, sir.”

The blunt versions are the first ones, the shorter ones, the ones that get the point across immediately but lack the tact of a more formal situation.

It’s not that the second forms, the longer more polite forms, are any less honest. It’s just a different type of communication.

That’s why I try to use “frankly” instead of saying “to be honest.” What I’m trying to signal is that I’m about to change forms of communication, not the content.