There are some phrases — like “I hate to say it”, “with all due respect”, and “it’s not about the money, but…” — that sound honest but signify that the speaker is actually lying.
The point of a but-head is to preemptively deny a charge that has yet to be made, with a kind of “best offense is a good defense” strategy. This technique has a distinguished relative in classical rhetoric: the device of procatalepsis, in which the speaker brings up and immediately refutes the anticipated objections of his or her hearer. When someone says “I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but…” they are maneuvering to keep you from saying “I don’t believe you — you’re just trying to hurt my feelings.”
See also the non-apology apology.
Erin McKean on What I Think About When I Think About Sewing:
6. Visualization. Where will I wear this dress? Who will be there? Will I wear it once, or over and over again? Will I blog it?
7. Shoes. Which ones? Do I already own them? Would this dress require shoes that do not, in fact, actually exist? (E.g., every pair of boots I’ve ever wanted.) Do I have a pair of shoes in a weird color that I need to make a dress to match? Am I looking for an excuse to buy a new pair of shoes in a weird color? (Lather, rinse, repeat for “Coat” and “Bag”.)
McKean is perhaps better known as a lexicographer…I like her McKean’s Law:
Any correction of the speech or writing of others will contain at least one grammatical, spelling, or typographical error.