"Zootopia" around 00:14:04/01:48:32

Benjamin Clawhauser: O.M. Goodness... They really did hire a bunny. [Laughs] What!? I gotta tell you, you are even cuter than I thought you'd be!

Judy Hopps: Ooh, uh, you probably didn't know, but a bunny can call another bunny cute, but when other animals do it, it's a little...

Benjamin Clawhauser: [Gasps] I am so sorry! Me, Benjamin Clawhauser, the guy everyone thinks is just a flabby, donut-loving cop stereotyping you, oh...


relative: What's the grammar of "Me, Benjamin Clawhauser, ... stereotyping you"?


She could have used "You probably don't know", but there are a couple of reasons why she preferred "didn't". Firstly she is talking about the time when Clawhauser spoke, which is in the (recent) past. Secondly by back-shifting she makes it less direct. She is talking about Clawhauser's past not his present. This makes it more tentative, and a little more polite.

It is a complex social engagement. Judy is speaking to a more senior officer, and she doesn't want to offend him. On the other hand using "cute" is something that she feels strongly about. So she uses very tentative language. Clawhauser is sensitive enough to immediately understand his error, and apologies.

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Because she's referring to something in the past (what Benjamin said previously).

You probably didn't know (and that's why you called me cute), but now, you know it.

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