in fairness

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epistolario

Senior Member
Tagalog
We have an expression in fairness which I didn't know was Filipinoism, but I'm not even sure. I learned this from my American-accent training class and our learning material says that, instead, we should use all things being equal. But it doesn't seem to be correct based on my previous post:
http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=542357

I simply want to know how natives express the same concept. Examples:

1) You criticize smokers and smoking for being dangerous to one's health. Then, you will say

"In fairness, some smokers reach the age of 90." (just an example; not based on facts)

2) You ridicule your neighbor who is your enemy for being ugly. But you or someone will say,

"In fairness, all her daughters are beautiful and intelligent."

How would you replace in fairness in these examples? It is an attempt to balance the negative with the positive side.
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    In fairness and in all fairness are English expressions rather than Filipinoisms.
    They mean, 'considering everything that has some bearing on a situation, so that one may make a fair judgment'. Sometimes they are expressed as, 'to be fair'. All things being equal is not a direct equivalent.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    We have an expression in fairness which I didn't know was Filipinoism, but I'm not even sure. I learned this from my American-accent training class and our learning material says that, instead, we should use all things being equal. But it doesn't seem to be correct based on my previous post:
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=542357

    I simply want to know how natives express the same concept. Examples:

    1) You criticize smokers and smoking for being dangerous to one's health. Then, you will say

    "In fairness, some smokers reach the age of 90." (just an example; not based on facts)

    2) You ridicule your neighbor who is your enemy for being ugly. But you or someone will say,

    "In fairness, all her daughters are beautiful and intelligent."

    How would you replace in fairness in these examples? It is an attempt to balance the negative with the positive side.
    I would replace it this way:
    --Nevertheless, some smokers reach the age of 90.
    --However, all her daughters are beautiful and intelligent.
     

    FEA

    Senior Member
    French
    Would you write "in fairness with" someone, like in fairness with your colleagues?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Would you write "in fairness with" someone, like in fairness with your colleagues?
    What would you like this to mean? We need an entire sentence with context to be able to tell if a phrase might be usable and what might be better.
     

    FEA

    Senior Member
    French
    I meant I don't want to give a special discount to a client as it would not be fair for those with me for a long time (who are paying more for the same service). Hence could I right, in fairness to my other clients I cannot give you these conditions?
     

    FEA

    Senior Member
    French
    Thanks. Interestingly I used it in my last post with "to" instead of "with" without realising it...
     

    StraightShooter2000

    New Member
    English
    The promiscuous use of “in fairness”, when a simpler construction would suffice or the qualification is simply not called for, is a Filipinism. Some Filipinos throw it randomly into the middle of miscellaneous sentences without considering what it means.

    The correct use is when you or another party have expressed a criticism or negative judgment, or reported an adverse event, then want to tone down the negativity by alluding to circumstantial or balancing considerations, as opposed to providing direct explanations.

    Reasonable use: “He failed the exam, but, in fairness, so did all the others.” Your fairness allows you to see a tangential but relevant consideration. Note, though, that “in fairness” could be omitted altogether without affecting the sense of the statement. Its only function is to emphasize to the listener/reader that you are eager to be perceived as fair.

    Irrelevant use: “He failed the exam, but, in fairness, it was because he didn’t have enough time to study.” Professing your fairness is uncalled-for when reporting a simple and directly-relevant fact. Much better: “He failed the exam because he didn’t have enough time to study.”

    Reasonable use: “His income is modest, but, in fairness, he is a devoted father.” Your fairness lies in reporting that the subject is a good father in terms of devotion even if not in financial capability. Same observation as above: “in fairness” is a form of personal breast-beating (“look how fair I am”) rather than a useful qualification or nuance to the basic statement.

    Forced use: “His income is modest, but, in fairness, he never finished college.” What is there to be “fair” about? You might as well say that “the ball fell, in fairness, because of gravity.” Much better: “His income is modest because, unfortunately, he never finished college.”

    Conclusion: “in fairness” is almost never a useful phrase to add to any declarative statement. At best, its function is to tip off your listeners/readers that you are eager to be perceived as fair. If you are in fact a fair person, the assertion is unnecessary, and might even be counter-productive.
     
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