May I say that

kotaro   Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:10 am GMT
Hello guys

You English speakers often say "may I say" when you make a speech, as shown in the example below.
"In conclusion, may I say that I hope others will be encouraged to undertake their own study of the schedules"

My questions are:
(1) Why you invert "I may say" into "may I say" despite the fact you are making an assertive statement?
(2) What do you mean by this "may I say"? Could you paraphrase it into other words?

Thank you in advance
Lazar   Sun Feb 04, 2007 6:38 am GMT
If you use the uninverted word order, "I may say", then it sounds as if you're uncertain about your statement. ("I may say it, or I may not.")

When the order is inverted, the phrase carries a different meaning. It's equivalent to, "Let me say..." or "I'd like to say..." It's just a formal way of introducing your statement. It can be interpreted as a ceremonial way of showing deference to your audience, as if to say, "If it pleases you..."
Uriel   Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:31 am GMT
It's inverted because it's actually an interrogative -- may I say ....? It's just that it's such a common rhetorical phrase that the rest of the sentence tends to not end on a rising note or even get treated as a question, but that's actually how the phrase is technically read.
Jim   Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:07 am GMT
May I say that I'd agree with both Lazar and Uriel? I don't expect a "No, you may not." and in any case I've effectively had my say on the matter.
Guest   Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:58 pm GMT
Yes, a fossilized question. = "please permit me to say"