I need to reply to an email and I wanted to clarify to the other person that:

I understand exactly what needs to be done on the technical side but I'm not familiarized with the red tape involved in the process.

Would that be, somehow, offensive?

  • It is a bit offensive to accuse someone of using 'red tape' since it suggests they are obstructing progress for some spurious reason. I think I would only employ the term if I had entirely given up any hope of getting anywhere with someone. Otherwise it might produce the contrary effect to the one you want. – WS2 May 22 '14 at 12:47
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    In your context it probably is "offensive". Well, that's probably putting it a bit strong, but "red tape" is always used "negatively", and obviously you're emailing someone who is responsible for the administrative procedures involved, so you're effectively describing their job in negative terms. – FumbleFingers May 22 '14 at 12:47
  • Yes, if you mean exactly 'red tape' (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_tape) and, No, if you just mean 'all the paperwork/ attendant bother/ ...' – Kris May 22 '14 at 13:14

Red tape could be offensive in that it's often used as a value laden term, implying unnecessary or excessive regulatory or managerial requirements. From the point of view of those responsible for that regulation or management it could be seen as a criticism or disparagement of their work and its seriousness. Though in your example it seems a fairly lighthearted euphemism.

  • Red-tape has a negative connotation. However, it's not clear if the OP means by the expression. – Kris May 22 '14 at 13:16

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