"with a trespass on credulity that excels your best"

cheshire

Senior Member
Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credulity that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations.
(1) Does "credulity" make sense?
(2) ...that excels your best ( )
Which comes in the parentheses, "credulity" or "trespass"?
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    (1) I'm not sure it does make sense, as credulity means a willingness or tendency to believe what you are told without question. I'm not sure how this could be "trespassed". I think the writer means credibility, the quality of being believable. I can understand this being trespassed upon.

    (2) Both, the subject is the phrase "trespass on credulity". The person being spoken to is felt to have a reputation of being "credulous" [of "trespassing on credulity"] (except, as I said above, I don't think the speaker means credulity) and this particular example is the most extreme to date.

    It would make more sense to me that the person referred to has a tendency to come out with fanciful or unbelievable statements, the latest of which being the most unbelievable.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I something trespasses on credulity, then I imagine that it would be hard to believe. It stretches or goes beyond the constraints of credulity.
    But a trespass on something, Bibliolept, is surely an encroachment upon something; an invasion, not a stretching of it, or a passing outward beyond its constraining limits. That's why I'm not very happy with the image. I think I'm agreeing with you when I say that the passage is suggesting that the speaker is guilty at least of exaggeration, if not of lying.

    P.S. Do you think the image works if trespass is taken to mean a wrong?: meaning 2 in WR dictionary gives us -

    2 trespass
    a wrongful interference with the possession of property (personal property as well as realty), or the action instituted to recover damages
     

    lizzeymac

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think this is a typo, or spell-check or grammar-check sabotage.
    Unless you believe in amazing coincidences, this sentence is a quote from a statement made by (American) Ambassador Adlai Stevenson to the UN Security Council on Oct. 25 1962. The Council was meeting about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ambassador Stevenson is accusing Soviet representative Zorin of being untruthful.

    Quote from Amb. Stevenson:
    "Well, let me say something to you, Mr. Ambassador—we do have the evidence. We have it, and it is clear and it is incontrovertible. And let me say something else—those weapons must be taken out of Cuba.
    Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credibility that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations. Well, let me say to you, sir, you are wrong again. We have had no pressure from anyone whatsoever."
    Link
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Thank you very much for your help!:)

    (1) Does everyone agree that "credulity" is a typo and should be "credibitity"?

    (2) Which does "with a trespass on credulity that excels your best" modify, (x) let me say to you, (y) If I understood you, or (z) you said that our position had chaged?

    (3) Who's credibility did he mean when he said "a trespass on credulity/credibility"?
    Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credulity that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations.
     

    digitig

    Member
    UK English
    (1) Does "credulity" make sense?
    (2) ...that excels your best ( )
    Which comes in the parentheses, "credulity" or "trespass"?
    I'm going to go against the flow, and say that it does make sense. The speaker is expressing that some are willing to believe what they are told, but to lie to them is figuratively a trespass. "Excels you best" would refer back to trespass, so the choice of "excel" seems to me to be particularly insulting because it suggests the addressee would see "trespassing" (in this context, lying) as a positive thing.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you very much for your help!:)

    (1) Does everyone agree that "credulity" is a typo and should be "credibitity"?

    (2) Which does "with a trespass on credulity that excels your best" modify, (x) let me say to you, (y) If I understood you, or (z) you said that our position had chaged?

    (3) Who's credibility did he mean when he said "a trespass on credulity/credibility"?
    Hi Cheshire,

    (2) the trespass on credibility must modify your saying that our position had changed etc. I think the reasons given for this change are what stretch credibility.

    (3) the credulity of ordinary sensible people is imposed upon. They just would be disinclined to believe it. The person whose credibility is damaged is the person who is being spoken about.
     

    Prometo

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Based on the Stevenson quote from lizzeymac (who is from America - but which country?) it's clear that credibility is in the original passage, while credulity is a "mistake".

    It's understandable that some folks might err with this word. Both words have a Latin root, credere ...but in modern English they are not synonymous - credulity is a quality of people (who are easily fooled); credibility can be applied to statements as well (when they are believable).

    (1) Credulity does not make sense in this context.

    (2) ...that excels your best (trespass)

    Trespass = sin, offense, transgression

    "Forgive those who trespass against us..."
     

    Prometo

    Senior Member
    USA English
    (2) Which does "with a trespass on credulity that excels your best" modify, (x) let me say to you, (y) If I understood you, or (z) you said that our position had chaged?

    The trespass on credibility is what "you said" (what Zorin had said...)

    (3) Who's credibility did he mean when he said "a trespass on credulity/credibility"?

    Soviet ambassador Zorin´s....
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credibility that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations.
    Thanks, but could I ask you to confirm if I understood the passage correctly?
    Mr Zorin, you said our position had changed since I spoke here the other day... You said it, which amounts to damaging your own credibility, your reputation of being respectable. And this time you've done the best damage that you'd done before.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks, but could I ask you to confirm if I understood the passage correctly?
    Mr Zorin, you said our position had changed since I spoke here the other day... You said it, which amounts to damaging your own credibility, your reputation of being respectable. And this time you've done the best damage that you'd done before.​
    Interesting, Cheshire, as usual, and brave.


    I'm not with you all the way.


    I think we haven't nailed credibility yet.

    Next, let me say to you that, if I understood you, with a trespass on credibility that excels your best, you said that our position had changed since I spoke here the other day because of the pressures of world opinion and the majority of the United Nations.
    If I understood you (he's leaving open the possibility of his having misunderstood, so that what he goes on to say does not seem so rude). You said, with a trespass on credibility that excels your best - here he's saying that Zorin frequently trespasses on credibility (says things which are very difficult to believe - i.e. lies) and that this trespass excels Zorin's previous best (this is a bigger lie even than any of the previous ones). What Stevenson goes on to say is what the lie amounted to: the US position has changed because of the pressure of world opinion and the majority of the UN.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Finally I understand what the sentence means! :)Thanks infinitely!

    To sum up, both credibility and credulity are OK, aren't they?
    I don't think they are, Cheshire, I'm sorry to say. To trespass on someone's credulity would be to take advantage of their gullibility - some people believe almost anything: if you tell them lies so that they will act in your best interests, you trespass on their credulity.

    To trespass on credibility means to do wrong to credibility, to assume that we will believe things which we won't believe because they are transparent lies.
     

    digitig

    Member
    UK English
    What do you think they mean, Digitig? Do you agree with my interpretation of the difference?
    Yes, I agree with your interpretation. "Credibility" is how easy it is to believe something, "Credulity" is how easily somebody believes. One can trespass on either, but one would be trespassing on different things.

    But I think we should also remember that the original quote was political rhetoric, and searching for precision of meaning in political rhetoric can be futile.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, I agree with your interpretation. "Credibility" is how easy it is to believe something, "Credulity" is how easily somebody believes. One can trespass on either, but one would be trespassing on different things.

    But I think we should also remember that the original quote was political rhetoric, and searching for precision of meaning in political rhetoric can be futile.
    You think that even when they are being very rude politicians don't choose their words with any care?
     

    cirrus

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The problem is that the original is someone chosing their words very carefully. The message is an insult whether it is credibility or credulity.

    Quite apart from the quote being found elsewhere with credibility, my gut feeling would be to say that credibility that fits best here. Why? If you call someone is credulous you imply they are naive and childlike: they take what they hear at face value. You can guarantee that no politician or diplomat would ever do this. Both professions would take offence at being called credulous.
     

    Prometo

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Mr Zorin, you said our position had changed since I spoke here the other day... You said it, which amounts to damaging your own credibility, your reputation for being respectable. And this time you've done the worst damage that you've (ever) done.

    Yes, you are right.

    To sum up, both credibility and credulity are OK, aren't they?

    NO, not at all.

    "Credulity" does not make sense in this context (as I said in post #9).

    Cheers!
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Wow, I appreciate all of you for help! Thank you very very much! Only the following part was I not able to understand.

    TT said:
    To trespass on credibility means to do wrong to credibility, to assume that we will believe things which we won't believe because they are transparent lies.
     
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