Submitted by gidgegary on December 1, 2008

Please be advised....

My local Public transport company has started delivering recorded messages on the train platform “Please be advised that patrons must wait till the train has come to a complete stop before crossing the yellow line”. I find this message completely grates on me, and I suffer it each time I wait on the train platform for my train.

“Please” is a polite request for me to take some form of action. I have a choice. I can comply with the request or I can refuse the request.

If an instruction is given to me with the precursor “Please be advised” then I am presented with a fait accompli and have no opportunity to decide whether I will comply with the request or not. It is not, in fact, a request in any form and does not provide the recipient with any capacity to dismiss or refuse the request. For this reason, I consider it to be manglish.

Can you confirm that “Please be advised” is manglish?

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I don't see anything at all wrong with "Please be advised." It is part of the politeness cushioning that we use all the time in English. We don't use imperatives because they are too direct and therefore rude. At a restaurant, we say "I would like" rather than "I want." We preface favors by asking "Can I ask you a favor?" Wordy, yes, but necessary to maintain the necessary level of respect in discourse.

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Since this is a language site, a few corrections:

porshe wrote:
<Acvtually, the politically correctness of "please be advised..." >
That should be "Actually, the political correctness of..."

legal wrote:
<However, I really have similar feelings as Gidgegary do. I think it sounds wierd, and hypocritical, if i may say so...Do not just pretend to be 'polite' but keep making an effort to making yourself look 'cautious', 'prudent', and 'well-mannered'.>

That should be "However, I have feelings similar to Gidgegary's. I think it sounds weird, and hypocritical, if I may say so...Do not pretend to be 'polite' while making an effort to make yourself look 'cautious', 'prudent', and 'well-mannered'."

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Acvtually, the politically correctness of "please be advised..." is even more insidious, which, in a way, makes your compiance irrelevant, or, at least, automatic.

I suppose you could call it a fait accompli, but rather, it is ultimately, cowardice. "Wait for the train to..." is a directive, a positive warning to wait until the train stops. Of course, "Please wait..." is a bit more more polite.

"be advised that you must wait..." or "please be advised..." is also a directive, but only a directive to, well, um, be advised; make note.

Essentially, this is just some hogwash that means something like "Oh, noooo, we're not saying that you should wait for the train to stop. We certainly wouldn't want you to think that we are taking AAAANNYYY responsibility for safety or AAAANNNYTHING that might happen to you on OUR train. NOOOOO, we're just saying that you should 'be advised'. We're just saying that we're TELLING you that we're, um, TELLING YOU something. That's all. Simply by listening to this message, you have complied with it. That way, you can't claim that we didn't warn you. If you get hurt, then that's YOUR problem. WE'RE only responsible for TELLING you. Since you LISTENED, we SUCCEEDED in telling you, so we met OUR legal obligation since, after all, you WERE ADVISED!!!."

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"Be advise" has not place in either spoken or written communication.

"The key to effective communication is brevity."

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Standard idiomatic English in my book. We would be advised not to overthink this one.

http://language4you.wordpress.com

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*comment

:(

I didn't proofread.

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"Wait until the train has come to a complete stop…" - sounds like a command "Sit! Stand! Wait!..." as if you are talking to a trained dog.

"Please be advised" is a very good expression. It sounds polite, it is non agressive and it carries a good meaning, and generally it is perfect to use in business life.

Now see this examle:

"Please be advised, that your food is on the table ready to be eaten" - It sounds silly if you use this expression to you wife or husbad, don't you think? That is why it is used in "bussiness" not "private" life.

"Please be advice of the save receipt of your letter"

Thank you for reading my comment.

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Of course, another way of looking at it is as an attention-getting device. Something like standing in front of a crowded room shouting "hey everybody, listen up!" Comparatively, "Please be advised" could be nothing more than the same thing, only more formal and polite. It's sort of a throw-away phrase so you don't miss the gist of the message by ignoring the first few seconds.

....Nah, I'd go with my last post: message from spineless beauraucrats cowed by lawyers into making sure that you can't sue them for any risk they actually tell you about. You are talking about the transit authority, after all.

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It reminds me that they say, in German (or at least they did when I took it in high school, lo, these many years ago), "Now you will hear the news," rather than "Now we will present the news." It has much more directness, but struck me the same way, "You can't help but comply, and if you get into trouble, it's your OWN fault. We TOLD you."

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In the phrase "please be advised" the adverb "please" is "used as a function word to express politeness or emphasis in a request" (M-W Online). In the sentence “Please be advised that patrons must wait till the train has come to a complete stop before crossing the yellow line” the word "please" does not negate the word "must." Rather, "please" adds emphasis to "be advised," and does not refer to the rule of which the passengers are then advised.

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I can pretty much guarantee that the public transport company's announcement was written by an attorney whose objective was pretty much exactly as porsche described.

I'm an attorney, and I frequently use this phrase in written communications with opposing parties. The main reason is that if the communication comes up as evidence in front of a jury, it makes me sound a little bit less like a jerk.

I say: "Please be advised that if you fail to vacate the default judgment entered against my client, I will advise him regarding his options, which may include the commencement of a civil action against you."

I mean: "Vacate the default judgment entered against my client immediately or he'll sue your sorry *ss and I'll twist the knife. If you don't, and he does, and I do, the but-you didn't-warn-me-defense will not be available to you, and I'll just giggle maniacally as your blood rolls into the gutter."

The former sounds at least a bit less demanding and coercive, though, doesn't it?

I avoid, however, using it in communications with "aligned" parties (clients, co-counsel, etc.), for the reason to which legal alluded: I don't want to confuse them -- it's not their blood I'm looking to spill.

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I hear this used a lot by police and military (real life and movies, tv, etc).

"Be advised, the suspect has turned left and is traveling at a high rate of speed."

Seems completely unnecessary. Police jargon intended to sound more official, not so much about being polite or offering a choice. I guess you could argue it's an alternative to "attention!" I'd think efficiency in communication would be crucial when things are happening so fast and time is critical.

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We could have some fun with this.
“One adam-twelve, be advised, the suspect has turned left and is traveling at a high rate of speed.”
"Ten-four, HQ. One adam-twelve is now advised."
“One adam-twelve, see the man on 14th st, possible mugging victim."
"Ten-four, HQ. We see him. Please advise."

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this is a few weeks after the last posting...but i am trying to decide if i should use this term in a business communication to someone who is my superior. i am told that it is okay. does anyone agree that it makes me sound pompous to think that i should tell a superior to "please be advised" especially when i am asking him for a favor?

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Quick Coment--

'Till' should NEVER be used as an abbreviation of 'until'. 'Till' is a farming term. ''Til' is an abbreviation of 'until'.

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This won't answer your question, but I find the construction "be advised" itself annoying. I hear it frequently on the PA system at work, and it's always superfluous. Why not use the imperative: "Wait until the train has come to a complete stop..."

Or if we must be nice about it, "Please wait until..."

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What is manglish? It looks like normal English to me.

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I am hired on with an English lawfirm where I encounter this pattern almost every day in email communications. It seems that all lawyers, senior, junior or even in their intership, and all administrative staff members have been used to using it without bothering to take a second thought. They might call it a 'set pattern' as many other legal jarons are. However, I really have similar feelings as Gidgegary do. I think it sounds wierd, and hypocritical, if i may say so. If you want to hand down an order, do it direclty as a line manager or a boss. If you want to discuss something with me, come up to me as peers. Do not just pretend to be 'polite' but keep making an effort to making yourself look 'cautious', 'prudent', and 'well-mannered'.

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The choice in the phrase "please be avdvised" is clear to me. The requestor asks you to consider what is to follow. You don't have to. You could ignore the whole announcement and put your nose in a book or magazine, put the ear bud to your ipod back in, carry on a conversation with someone either present or on the phone, etc. There is a definite choice. Not only am I being asked to listen, but I am also being asked to pay attention, to take it seriously, as in "taking someone's advice."

Funny to read above that lawyers tend to use the phrase to "advise" their client's opponent. I have to say, the phrase is fairly dickish--"I know you are trying to screw me, you know you are trying to screw me, but still you smile at me and say 'Please'". I appreciate the directness that German culture seems to prefer.

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Porsche, we obviously read John's comment two different ways. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

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A few years too late to this comment thread, but here's my post anyway...

This phrase didn't annoy me until tech support migrated to India and became chat sessions and email support. Now everyone seems to throw it around. They didn't used to, back when we had regular Americans on the support lines. (Ha! I sound like an old man. "Back in my day...")

I now immediately assume that the person saying it ain't from around here (except in the aforementioned legal/law enforcement scenarios).

BTW, the comment that prompted this post... @Sara (re: till vs 'til), I thought the same way till I actually looked it up. Please be advised that dictionary.com's usage info on "till" states:

TILL and UNTIL are both old in the language and are interchangeable as both prepositions and conjunctions: It rained till (or until ) nearly midnight. The savannah remained brown and lifeless until (or till ) the rains began. TILL is not a shortened form of UNTIL and is not spelled 'TILL. 'TIL is usually considered a spelling error, though widely used in advertising: Open 'til ten.

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Yes, it's a standard throwaway phrase whose purposes include a) getting people's attention so what follows foes not have to be repeated; and b) communicating an idea politely rather than brusquely.

It's kind of like "May we have your attention please", or "May we suggest". Politeness.

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Katrin,

I am sorry but I disagree with you 100%. "Be advise" has absolutely no place in the English language, either written or spoken.

Write down a sentence using "be advised" and then write the same phrase without "be advised." Does the meaning of the statement change at all?

"Airport Command to Engine-7:" "Be advised that the emergency aircraft is next to land."

"Airport Command to Engine-7:" "Engine-7, the emergency aircraft is the next to land."

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I feel that the prevalence of expressions such as "please be advised" is evidence of the softening of our society. I'm not suggesting or advocating rudeness, but that's one of those soft euphemistic phrases that I can't stand. I agree with Trick that the passengers should be told to remain behind the line as opposed to just being given the suggestion that it might be a good idea to do so.

And John, I believe that "manglish" means "mangled English" (using words either unnecessarily or incorrectly).

Please be advised that I might be wrong about this. :P

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One of my pet hates too, together with its variants such as " Passengers are advised that...". These phrases are usually completely unnecessary. I suspect that they are written by people who are not thinking about clear communication. One of my favourites is in the toilets at Luton airport, which starts, 'Members of the public using these toilets are advised that...' It's completely redundant!'
I have great sympathy for visitors who don't have English as a first language who have to cope with these phrases. And all this was prompted by the Heathrow airport website instructions on travel between terminals: 'Please be advised that bus service 482 travels from...'

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Dear Sir or Madam,

"Please be advised that"

I want to discover that whether possible to replace this expression with another one?
If so, advise me how i might use these expressions with the same meaning and keep me these phrases in appear please.

Best regards

Emil Bodurov

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Joe, I could be mistaken, but I don't think John needed to have "manglish" defined. When John said "what is manglish?", he didn't mean "what is [the definition of the word] manglish?" I think what he meant was "what [exactly is it about the phrase in question that you think] is manglish?" Of course, I could be wrong. Only John knows for sure. John?

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Thanks a lot, UIP!

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I agree that it is both a preface to an important piece of information and a nicety. I see nothing wrong with it at all. Most announcements on public transport are annoying at best, but they are what they are.

As far as a softening of our society - not sure I understand. I am from the South, so we are generally very oblique and genteel with our phrasing. These types of filters serve as a way to diffuse tension in social interactions, disarm would-be adversaries, and/or reinforce mutual respect. Some just call it tact.

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