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I just got this error message from some software

Request does not fall under your permitted scope. So you are not authorized to update the same.

This "the same" construction was particularly odd to me. I've been hearing it more and more in corporate contexts.

Can anyone explain where it comes from? My instinct was that it was military phrasing (or other government/public agency).

  • Yeah, the "same" what? Permitted scope? [Your] request?Typical bureaucratic mumbo jumbo! – rhetorician Aug 22 '13 at 20:13
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This is a legal usage which goes back at least two centuries.

Searching for "the same" and "law" in Google books yields a large number of examples, such as this one from 1804:

And further, That in case the sum or sums actually collected shall be less than the sum or sums expressed in such estimate, and collected as aforesaid, the surplus shall be forthwith returned to the persons from whom the same were collected, or their legal representatives.

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This is common in Indian English and I've only ever seen it in messages from Indian colleagues. It sounds strange to my British English ears as it's now archaic in British English, but along with other terms, is still current in Indian English.

Wikipedia says:

Indians have preserved phrases from British English that other English speakers have stopped using. Official letters include phrases such as "please do the needful", "... will revert back ..." and "you will be intimated shortly". In conversational speech it is not uncommon to ask, "What is your good name?", where a modern Western Anglophone would omit the word "good". Recent influences from American English have created inconsistencies.

The same is listed under:

Terms that are considered archaic in some varieties of English, but are still in use in Indian English:

...

  • the same = the aforementioned, as in "I heard that you have written a document on .... Could you send me the same?"

Here's some other common Indian English phrases and an article on "The rise of Indian English" in a British newspaper.

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Indian English usage would be my surmise.

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It's meant to act as a clarifying phrase, referring to "the same as the item that has recently been mentioned", though actually in this case, it doesn't (because it doesn't identify whether the "Request" or "Permitted Scope" is the thing being referred to.

Its origin, and likewise proliferation, can probably be attributed to an attempt at being more exact, and reducing the use of prepositions a the end of a sentence ('same' in this case is acting as a noun). In this case, it doesn't really accomplish that.

I've seen it more often in legal jargon, where long-worded specifications of a party or status are referred to as "the same" to avoid having to repeat the same describing phrase multiple times.

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