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Archive for October 23rd, 2021

Fauxpology

Posted by Admin on October 23, 2021

If someone offers up a fauxpology, they aren’t apologizing at all.  What they are doing is making a statement that sounds like an apology without expressing any of the emotion that goes with a sincere apology and where there is no acknowledgement of any wrongdoing on their part.

In other words, whereas an apology is when someone expresses remorse or regret for something that was said or done that harmed one or more people, a fauxpology is a “false” (because the word faux in French means false) apology or, rather, an anti-apology that excuses what was said or done by the offending party that harmed one or more people.

Think of a fauxpology when you hear someone say, “Sorry, not sorry.”  That is a fauxpology.

A fauxpology is sometimes also referred to as a nopology or a manpology, although in the case of a manpology, Idiomation has found evidence of people from either gender offering up fauxpologies, so to refer to a fauxpology as a manpology is misleading. In a few instances a fauxpology has also been referred to as a past exonerate however that has been in more academic settings.

Canadian linguist, Laura Beaudin Lakhian who holds a Master of Science degree in the Cognitive Science of Language from McMaster University even has a website dedicated to the topic, titled Fauxpolo.gy where she shares her deconstruction of very public apologies using critical discourse analysis and the speech act theory.

In January 2021, there was an uproar about a product named The Mahjong Line.  When the backlash for the company hit the fan, the company offered up a fauxpology for their mistake, and once again, they were called on their actions.

Arizona State University newspaper reporter, Marshall Terrill interviewed Dawn Gilpin, associate professor at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications for a piece published the ASU News on 6 December 2017.  The interview was published as a Q&A piece and took a close look at what was going on with public apologies made by public people in the media.  As part of the introduction, he wrote:

The types of “fauxpologies” can backfire with audiences as Americans contemplate the damage caused by public figures facing harassment claims.

In response to being asked to provide a good example of an apology by a public figure, Ms. Gilpin responded that most apologies were terrible and vaue, and “stop[ped] short of verifying the truth of the allegations.”  She also stated:

This kind of “fauxpology” can backfire with audiences, especially on social media.

A few years earlier, on 13 September 2011 TODAY reporter Courtney Hazlett, reporting for NBC News, wrote that Madonna’s treatment of volunteers working the Toronto International Film Festival.  Allegedly she asked that they be made to turn their faces to a wall so they wouldn’t get a look at her as she made her way to her news conference about her film “W.E.”  In the news article, Courtney Hazlett wrote:

Stay tuned to see if Madonna gives the fans the faux-pology treatment the hydrangea received.

A year earlier, in Time magazine, in an article by Belinda Luscombe published on 20 October 2010 and titled, “Thank You, Ginni Thomas” the author wrote:

The old “sorry if I upset you” route is the go-to tactic of politicians, celebrities, media corporations and spouses for a reason. It looks and smells like an apology, but acknowledges no wrongdoing. It’s a fauxpology.

Jumping back another three years to 29 August 2007, The American Prospect (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation headquartered in Washington, DC) published an article by former assistant web editor Sam Boyd titled, “Faux-Pology Watch.”  He described what a fauxpology was, and wrote about Larry Craig and his fauxpology.

With the hyphen between the word faux and the abbreviated word apology (which appears as pology), it appears this may be one of the earliest published uses of the word where the hyphen aided in the comprehension of the word.

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of this word, and because of the hyphen and the year (2007), Idiomation is confident in believing the word was a very recent construct from around that year.  If, however, one of you has an earlier published news article or story or cartoon that uses the word fauxpology, please feel free to share this in the comments section below.

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