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"Revert" meaning "Report back" Options
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:18:01 AM
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Hi

I've done a search and this was mentioned in passing in one forum thread but not taken any further.

I know two people who use the word "revert" to mean "report back" in emails. For example: "I'll go and talk to person X about topic Y and revert afterwards."

This seems to be completely wrong to me; my understanding is that "revert" means "return to a former state". There is however another suggested meaning on Google which is "Return to (a previous topic)" which is vaguely related to this usage.

Any thoughts/advice?

Best wishes

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 11:48:57 AM

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It does not mean "reply" or "report back".

When used to mean "return to a topic" it is "semi-transitive" - it is not used without an indirect object.

It is almost always "revert to ...", or has the "to ..." in the context, at least.

"I will go and speak to X about subject Y, and revert to subject Z later."

"They spoke about cats for a while, then about dogs for a few minutes before they reverted (to cats)."

Advice? Well, you could try to correct the people who use it, or just accept that they are wrong and use the correct word yourself.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 1:38:19 PM
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I consulted That Which I Obey (The Oxford) and find no allusion to any other meaning.

Thus, I imagine, it has not yet been admitted into British English. No doubt it's on its way.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 2:40:41 PM

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Ho ho.

My (ex)wife is the only woman in a team. I gave her a 'Rider Haggard' cup to use at work, for Christmas "She who must be obeyed" (her name is sometimes shortened to Asha) - she thought it was great!

However, to revert to the original subject, ...


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 10:15:31 AM

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The other thread for the same question is here.

Romany is right - it's on its way...

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 1:56:02 PM
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Somewhat belatedly, can I offer my thanks for all the replies, and apologies for somehow double-posting, however it happened!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013 2:15:57 AM

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MoreTeaVicar wrote:
Somewhat belatedly, can I offer my thanks for all the replies, and apologies for somehow double-posting, however it happened!


It happens occasionally, especially (I think) when the main server is busy.
If you click on "Post" nothing happens for quite a while, so you click again, then it posts twice.

Don't worry! It happens to many of us.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:46:26 PM
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Thanks Drag0nspeaker, that was a nice post. Perhaps I impatiently clicked twice!

Just a footnote to this: no less a person than my solicitor has done a "revert" on me. And I quote:

Quote:
Thank you for your email, once I have completely reviewed both files, I will be in a better position to advise on your proposed completion date. I will revert to you shortly.


It is indeed coming to British English, for better or worse!
RuthP
Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 1:02:21 PM

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MoreTeaVicar wrote:
Thanks Drag0nspeaker, that was a nice post. Perhaps I impatiently clicked twice!

Just a footnote to this: no less a person than my solicitor has done a "revert" on me. And I quote:

Quote:
Thank you for your email, once I have completely reviewed both files, I will be in a better position to advise on your proposed completion date. I will revert to you shortly.


It is indeed coming to British English, for better or worse!

I am speechless (good thing I'm typing). All I can see in my mind's eye is your soliciter transforming into you--yet again!

I need coffee. Or perhaps something stronger.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 2:09:06 AM

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Man, I would get rid of that solicitor pronto. If he or she cannot write precise British English, they are incompetent in their professional capacity in the UK. That is just a misuse of the word, no consequences. But the law is all about words, so it is not a good sign!
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 8:11:22 AM
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RuthP, thar - agreed. I am too polite to tell people that they're wrong, but will think twice before engaging this firm's services again!

Do you think this is now inevitable - in a decade or two's time this will be an acceptable usage of the word (as supposedly has already happened with "literally"?) or will us outraged types end up the victors?

I suspect we are mere Canutes, impotent against the tide.
Feeble Dragonfly
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 10:29:30 AM
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I agree that this word is misused in this context. However, sadly, it is used by all solicitors I know in this way. I too am a solicitor, so I regularly correspond with these folks. Please don't hold it against your advocate that they have used a word that is standard legal jargon! There are quite a few of these words and phrases about and I'm afraid they are kept going by the desire to show that you are validly qualified by using 'legalese'.

"Actually, depravity can be terribly boring if you don't smoke or drink."
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 11:05:15 AM

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Feeble Dragonfly wrote:
I agree that this word is misused in this context. However, sadly, it is used by all solicitors I know in this way. I too am a solicitor, so I regularly correspond with these folks. Please don't hold it against your advocate that they have used a word that is standard legal jargon! There are quite a few of these words and phrases about and I'm afraid they are kept going by the desire to show that you are validly qualified by using 'legalese'.

So you believe this is developing/developed legal jargon (at least in the UK)? Have you any idea why revert is being used rather than reply, respond, or even get back to you?

There is usually a reason--however poor it may be--that jargon develops. ( << That would be my opinion there.) Jargon is usually a parsing of a definition, an attempt to be precise in what one says. I just cannot see the advantage to this one. (Then again, I speak medical jargon not legal jargon, and in the U.S. not the U.K.)

Oh yes, legalese--just like 'medicaleze'--sometimes I think it is just a case of someone notable making an initially unnoticed error. Then all of a sudden someone sees the usage and figures it must be the right thing to do. Herd mentality.
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:20:25 PM
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Feeble Dragonfly - FWIW My guess was that it's an erroneous conflation of "refer" and "report", that has spread by imitation. So, surprising to hear that it's so commonly used by the UK legal profession, I too struggle to see the advantage...!
Feeble Dragonfly
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 4:37:49 AM
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It's interesting. I've never really thought about why it's used before. It tends to be used to close a letter, either to another solicitor or to your client - so you will get a letter from a solicitor stating their client's postion and then you will reply saying "Thank you, I will take my client's instruction and revert to you". So I don't think it's replacing 'refer' or 'report'.

The other options, 'reply' and 'response', now that I think about it, are used as formal terms in the legal system - they are documents filed at Court once things progress that far, so, for example, you will have the Claimant's Statement and the Defendant's Response (which would be capitalised as here). Perhaps 'revert' emerged to differentiate from these 'formal' responses? As for 'get back to you', I just don't personally feel like this is formal enough to use in a letter. It wouldn't come naturally for me to even use that expression in speech.

The thing with solicitors is, we learn on the job. After the academic part, we learn the practicalities as trainees, where we spend two years doing the job but having our supervisor review/check/amend every piece of correspondence or other work before it can be issued. You get used to the style that your supervisor likes, because you have to rewrite things entirely otherwise - they will always claim not to understand your meaning because 'it doesn't read like that to me'. Once you have qualified, it's up to you but I supppose habits acquired over those two years could stick around, and so they are passed on.

"Actually, depravity can be terribly boring if you don't smoke or drink."
MoreTeaVicar
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 7:13:34 AM
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Feeble Dragonfly - a very interesting reply, thank you.
thar
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:29:22 AM

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Maybe it is supposed to be a form of 'turn back' as in "I can only address myself to one entity at a time, when I am done with him I will turn back to you". Not necessarily implying 'report back'. I am fishing, there - I have never heard the word used in that environment.
Feeble Dragonfly
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:08:08 AM
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Thar, I think you're on the right track there, it does seem more to me like you are saying 'I'll come back to you'. In fact, the type of letter I refer to is usually called a holding letter, so you are effectively saying, 'I'll go away, pass on the message, advise my client and discuss the implications for them before I revert to the topic.' Maybe.

I did some google searching, and the only example of this usage I found was in Collins online dictionary (collinsdictionary.com), at definition 4 - which claims it is AE usage:

"4.(US) to reply to someone ⇒ we will revert to you with pricing and other details"



"Actually, depravity can be terribly boring if you don't smoke or drink."
RuthP
Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 10:58:20 AM

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Feeble Dragonfly wrote:
Thar, I think you're on the right track there, it does seem more to me like you are saying 'I'll come back to you'. In fact, the type of letter I refer to is usually called a holding letter, so you are effectively saying, 'I'll go away, pass on the message, advise my client and discuss the implications for them before I revert to the topic.' Maybe.

I did some google searching, and the only example of this usage I found was in Collins online dictionary (collinsdictionary.com), at definition 4 - which claims it is AE usage:

"4.(US) to reply to someone ⇒ we will revert to you with pricing and other details"

This one is very interesting to me, because this AE speaker had never heard the usage before this thread! Of course, I spend little time in either the legal or commercial worlds.
itsdanw
Posted: Monday, October 23, 2017 5:49:37 PM
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I received an email from a colleague in the Bahamas who replied "We'll review and revert." The intent was that she would follow up with me after reviewing the information I had sent. I was not familiar with this usage which is what led me to Google and ultimately this thread.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, October 27, 2017 4:22:22 PM

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Hello itsdanw!

I'm glad that our 'musings' were interesting - welcome to the Forum.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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