Talking in the abstract.

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Talking in the abstract.

Post by tony h » Thu May 02, 2019 8:50 am

Yesterday in committee. Mrs May said, when asked about her multiple repetitions of "no deal is better than a bad deal" and her failure to enact that, that she was "talking in the abstract".


This is a new one on me. Does it actually have a meaning?
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Re: Talking in the abstract.

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu May 02, 2019 6:15 pm

Talking in the abstract is an idiom that means to be talking in a general way, without referring to a particular real person, thing or situation. So when Mrs May said "no deal is better than a bad deal" she was implying that in general she thought that was true and didn't want people to think that she was referring to any particular deal that had been proposed.
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Re: Talking in the abstract.

Post by Phil White » Thu May 02, 2019 10:10 pm

Insofar as "abstract" can mean "dissociated from reality", it would appear to refer to the way in which politicians and May in particular, always speak.
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Re: Talking in the abstract.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu May 02, 2019 10:33 pm

According to this source, the context was as follows:

"Then, challenged by Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Chair Sir Bernard Jenkin as to whether she would contemplate leaving the EU of her own choice without a Withdrawal Agreement, she used the following formulation of words:

“I stand by the references I have made in the past that no deal is better than a bad deal, but I actually happen to think that we have a good deal. When I first made that reference, I was talking in the abstract — it was at Lancaster House. We now are no longer talking in the abstract; we are talking against the background of a negotiated deal, hard fought, that I believe is a good deal for the United Kingdom. That is why I say — and it remains the Government’s position — that we will continue to work to leave with a deal.”

Here, "talking in the abstract" could be replaced with "speaking hypothetically" or "speaking theoretically".
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