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I want to know what does "don't turn this back on me" mean in conversations? Does its meaning is always "don't blame me" or it also have another usages?

I see this in a movie and with the help of subtitle I knew that it's about blaming someone. but one of my friends told that it could also mean "don't change the subject".

So this caused I ask this question. However, maybe it's better I ask which meaning is more general or in which situations we may use that?

  • Though I would need more context, the definitions that come to my mind (besides your own) are "Don't use [this] as blackmail against me." or "Don't use [this] to betray me with." – Tory Sep 15 '14 at 14:57
  • Thank you Tory. Actually I have no more context about it but I add some explanations – kaku Sep 15 '14 at 15:41
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In general, this phrase is used when people (usually the villains or antagonists of some piece of fiction) are attempting to access who is at fault or the cause of a problem.

One person will assert that someone (but not them) is to blame. Then someone else proposes that the first person could be or is to blame (this could be the accused, or just a cohort of the first person with sympathies for the accused). The first person retorts with "Don't turn this back on me!".

So you could say it means "I refuse to talk about how I might be to blame." This phrase is really only used in that situation. It can't be used as a substitute for "Don't blame me!" or "Don't change the subject!".

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Such a phrase might be used in this context:

  1. Person A asks for a favour from Person B, and the request would require B to violate some rules.

    (Example: "Could you get me a gun?")

  2. When agreeing to the task, B says to A, "Don't turn this back on me!", reminding A that B assumed some risk to perform the task, and that B expects A to return the favour by being discreet, accepting liability and not blaming B if something goes wrong. Above all, A should not harm B.

    (Example: Don't shoot me with the gun. If you get caught with the gun, please make up a story about how you acquired it.)

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It can be used as a replacement for "don't blame me!", but it has slightly broader possibilities. It would be used when either blame, responsibility, or attention, is getting re-directed on to the speaker, and away from existing, or appropriate, focus of the conversation. That focus was someone, or something, other than the speaker.

To better understand how it might be used, one could replace it by saying: "Don't redirect the focus to me!" or "Don't let the focus get redirected towards me!". These are pretty much a literal rephrasing for meaning, although it would rarely be said like that. However, saying it this way, you can see how "Don't turn this back on me!" could be used.

E.g. Joe says to Mary: "Yes, I know, I was late! But you were supposed to pick me up!" You can see how Joe attempted to re-frame the argument to deflect blame from himself, and on to Mary. Mary might respond "Don't turn this back on me!" as an objection to that redirection of the argument.

The re-framing could be implied, rather than direct. This could be the situation where two (or more) people are involved in a risky undertaking (either legitimate, or illegitimate), and one person is assisting, rather than directing the action. The assisting person may not want the consequences to be directed at them, rather than the active participant, when the active participant might be able to redirect the consequences on to the assister. E.g. Joe and Mary are sitting in a car outside a store. Joe says to Mary: "Give me your gun." And then proceeds to rob the store. Joe gets back in the car. The police arrive before they can leave. Joe gives the gun back to Mary, and tells the police the gun is Mary's. Mary then objects: "Don't turn this back on me!", as Joe is attempting to redirect the attention of the police from Joe to Mary.

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