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Dodgy question

Posted by Lewis on December 08, 2003

In Reply to: Re: 'on this matter' versus 'in this matter' posted by R. Berg on December 08, 2003

: : My boss and I disagree over whether you seek someone's understanding 'in this matter' or 'on this matter'. He's made the point that were I to substitute 'matter' for 'issue', there's no question that it'd be correct to write 'on this issue'. He also pointed out that you always 'share your thoughts on this matter' as opposed to 'sharing your thoughts in this matter'. However, a quick office poll definitely favours 'seeking your understanding in this matter'. Can anyone shed some light on/in this matter?

: I could vote for either candidate, depending on what "seeking your understanding" means. It wouldn't occur to me to say "I seek your understanding."

: If it means "I want your opinion" or "I want to hear your interpretation," I'd say "I seek your understanding of this matter." If it means "I want your sympathy, given my circumstances" or "...given our shared circumstances," I'd say "I seek your understanding in this matter."

To me, this discussion derives from L@tin used in business - "in rem" meaning 'in the/this thing/matter' has become shortened to "re" which many would mistake for standing for 'regarding' rather than (rem)'the matter of'.
There are several correct usages - 'in this matter' '(up)on this matter' and 'of the matter'.
If the question is about views concerning a particular subject one could ask for somebody's view 'of the matter' quite properly - it is a 'view of' and the subject is 'the matter'. It is equally proper to say 'in the matter of XYZ, what are your views?' to which the reply could be 'I take the following view of this matter...' or 'My opinion on the matter of XYZ is...'

I think that we need to distinguish between 'the matter' itself and what verbs are being applied to that subject - the verb form determining what word to use, not the matter itself, (in rem).