A Quick Question

Just what is the difference between ‘help’ and ‘assistance’? Can one be helped and not assisted? Can one be in need of assistance but not want any help? I ask because the guards have taken to offering not one, but both. This morning it was ‘And if I can be of any help or assistance …’ (emphasis most definitely on the or). And then again this evening: ‘I will be walking down the train if you need any help or assistance.’

If one of the guards ever does appear, as advertised, walking down the train, I shall ask them. Meanwhile, can one of you help? Or, indeed, assist?

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11 responses to “A Quick Question

  1. I’m afraid I can niether help nor assist as I am also left presently trying to fathom out the difference betwixt the two.

  2. I’ve noticed this particular verbal tic. I think it’s part of the trend towards extending or lengthening official statements, by the use of synonyms or alternative words, in a misguided attempt to make them sound more meaningful, or, to put it another way, significant.

  3. On my journey back from York the other day, the guard announced that we were approaching King’s Cross, the last and final stop. Is it a train thing, do you think?

  4. Menace – I think they got it from legal documents … I wish they’d cease and desist.

    Pete – If you figure it out let me know. Or better yet, let SWT know.

  5. Katja – you mean he resisted the temptation to announce the ‘last and final station stop’ ? You got off lightly …

  6. I wonder if it’s the difference between “Take your buggy up those stairs, it’s easier” (help) and “I’ll carry the buggy up for you” (assistance)?

  7. Think it’s to cater for different classes of passenger. ‘Help’ for the intellectually challenged, ‘assistance’ for the well spoken and pompous, and either for normal folk. Possibly.

  8. GNER and its ‘Next Station Stop’ If it is not going to stop why mention it?

  9. Nik and RV – you may well be right.

    Huttonian – indeed. And if it’s not a station, why mention it as well?

  10. Its really as silly as the response to ‘thank you’: ‘Don’t mention it’ Why bother to say thanks to such people-its a bit churlish to say ‘but I just have’

  11. Hmmm … at least ‘don’t mention it’ is intended to be polite, and I’m all for that. Whereas ‘station stop’ is just bizarre.

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