Paul in Dryden, New York, says when he lived in Tennessee, he knew that when someone began a sentence with Bless his heart, that phrase would usually be followed by the word but, plus a criticism of that person. Now that he’s living in New York State, he finds people preface those criticisms differently, usually with a phrase like Now don’t get me wrong. Why do people use these kinds of conversational softeners? Do these linguistic hedges vary from region to region? This is part of a complete episode.

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