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It is telling to note that the language of exclusive territoriality in disputes such as this one originates with local authorities.

What's the meaning of "it is telling to note that"?

  • Th wording "It is significant that," conveys all of the actual meaning of "It is telling to note that," without retaining any of the longer phrase's ambiguity and awkwardness. – Sven Yargs Apr 16 '14 at 2:27
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It is telling to note that ... is often used to draw more attention to a point, often with negative connotations.

In your example it would be factual to say

"The language of exclusive territoriality in disputes such as this one originates with local authorities."

But the addition of It is telling to note that ... implies that the local authorities may not be acting in line with a higher authority.

A different example might be

The doctor did not perform a full examination prior to the patients demise.

This simply states that the doctor did not perform a full examination. However, adding in the phrase ...

It is telling to note that the doctor did not perform a full examination prior to the patients demise.

implies that the doctor should have performed a full examination and had he done so the outcome may have been different.

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"It is telling" means that a thing is significant. "It is telling to note" means that I am making note of, or pointing out, something that is significant.

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It is telling to note that, means:

It is calling our attention to the fact that....

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The other answers here are close to correct but are not quite explaining why people use this phrase. "It is telling" is usually used to draw a connection between two points:

Are local authorities really interested in resolving this conflict fairly? It is telling to note that the language of exclusive territoriality in disputes such as this one originates with local authorities.

In this extended example, using "it is telling" implies that the second sentence answers the question from the first sentence. You could reword everything as such:

The language of exclusive territoriality in disputes such as this one originates with local authorities which causes us to question whether the local authorities are even interested in resolving this conflict fairly.

A simpler example:

Which flavor is John's favorite? It is telling that he always eats the grape flavored candies first.

This correlation can happen without the question:

It is difficult to know which flavor is John's favorite, but it is telling that he always eats the grape flavored candies first.

And the "it is telling" can stand alone if there is an easily accessible implicit correlation with some other claim. This is what occurs in your posted example:

It is telling to note that the language of exclusive territoriality in disputes such as this one originates with local authorities.

This sentence is telling us something outside of the simple claim about where the language originates. What that something is would need to be inferred from the greater context but, most likely, it is trying to say something about the goals and attitudes of the local authorities.

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