Concession words in Ben Bernanke’s speech

As of July, the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3 percent from … 10 percent and payrolls had risen by 4 million jobs from their low point. And despite periodic concerns about deflation risks, on the one hand, and repeated warnings that [the Federal Reserve] would ignite inflation, on the other hand, inflation … has remained near the Committee’s 2 percent objective and inflation expectations have remained stable. Key sectors such as manufacturing, housing, and international trade have strengthened, firms’ investment in equipment and software has rebounded, and conditions in financial and credit markets have improved.

Notwithstanding these positive signs, the economic situation is obviously far from satisfactory.

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
At the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
August 31, 2012
Monetary Policy since the Onset of the Crisis

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

Using “on the other hand” to concede a point

Advice for lawyers writing legal briefs:

[In legal writing,] weak arguments are risky: “[A] weak argument does more than merely dilute your brief. It speaks poorly of your judgment and thus reduces confidence in your other points.”… On the other hand, the law is what a majority of judges say it is — so an argument you consider weak may provide a basis for forming a majority.

Persuasive Legal Writing by Daniel U. Smith

In this passage, Daniel Smith makes two somewhat contradictory claims:

  1. Strong arguments are better than weak arguments.
  2. A weak argument may win the case if the judge happens to agree with it.

Smith uses the phrase “on the other hand” to concede, or admit, that his first argument isn’t always true. First he makes a strong claim; then he qualifies his strong claim by conceding, or admitting, that there are exceptions to the rule.

This is a standard feature of academic writing, one that is important to master.

The reader over your shoulder
Concession words

A grammar illusion

  1. The apartment that the maid who the service had sent over was cleaning every week was well decorated.
  2. The apartment that the maid who the service had sent over was well decorated.

Which sentence seems grammatically correct?

answer here (pdf file)