[xmca] Re: Terms of Endearment

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at gmail.com>
Date: Wed Dec 12 2007 - 16:36:59 PST

Yet another demonstration that one cannot please all the people all the
time, Professor Kellog. :-)
Michael Cole
(List of title available from somewhere else: my favorites are Daddy and

On Dec 12, 2007 3:33 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Mike:
> The problem is that there are cultures (including ours) where it's really
> TOO intimate to address a colleague by their first name. In most families in
> Korea, a younger brother doesn't use the first name of an older brother
> though the older brother may use that of the younger (just as parents may
> use their children's first names but not vice versa in the West). I can
> never get my students to call me anything but "Professor Kellogg" even
> though I am really only a lecturer (and that's why we address everybody
> except Mike as "Professor" in our contribution to the discussion on
> development).
> I gather from Paul's comments that "dear" as a letter salutation is also
> considered too intimate now, which was certainly not true when I left the
> USA more or less permanently in the early 1980s.
> In English teaching we try (very stupidly) to teach terms of address as a
> set of rules, e.g.
> a) WHERE INTIMATE: Never use a FIRST name with a title (except that of
> course here in Korea the last name comes first and the first name comes
> last)
> b) WHERE NOT INTIMATE: Never use a LAST name without a title (ditto).
> This succeeds in utterly confusing our learners and erects huge barriers
> to human interaction where none previously existed. Language is NOT a set of
> rules--not even grammar "rules" are rules, and to to try to teach respect
> and collegiality as a set of rules is almost a contradiction in terms (since
> rules will inevitably involve a clash between MY rules and YOURS and the way
> I end up expressing my respect for you involves NOT respecting your rules).
> So what do I teach? Human interaction, of course. You ask somebody how to
> address them and then you forget your own bloody rules and just do what they
> tell you to do. In fact, a question like "What do I call you?" is EASIER to
> teach than the so-called "rules" above. But most importantly it is clearly
> LIMITING and LIMITED in a way that so-called rules are not. It's concrete
> and personal, one might almost say intimate, as human interactions have to
> be.
> Last night I was reading Paul Bloom's book "How Children Learn the
> Meanings of Words" (MIT: 2001). He has a "rules and words" paradigm for
> language, so he spends some of the latter part of the book smirking at those
> of us who consider rules and words negotiable and not innate.
> He cites the following parody of the Whorfian (and Vygotskyan) position on
> p. 244.
> Whorfian: Eskimos are greatly infuenced by their language in their
> perception of snow. for example, they have N words for snow whereas English
> only has none. Having all these different words makes them think of snow
> very differently than Americans do.
> Skeptic: How do you know they think differently than Americans do?
> Whorfian: Look at all the words they have for snow!
> First of all, if Inuit who see snow every day have exactly the same
> perception of snow as Americans who have never seen snow in their lives, it
> is the skeptics and not the Whorfians who have some tough explaining to do.
> Secondly, there is really NOTHING circular about language being both cause
> and effect: the language of previous generations is an effect for them and
> a cause for us. In the same way, a question like "What do I call you?" is
> both effect and cause, and so is its effect, namely the answer. What's
> so hard about that?
> David Kellogg
> Seoul National University of Education
> PS:
> Actually, Paul, though I am not a Stones fan, at heart I am a street
> fightin' man like you.... But you can see that our Dear Mike takes his
> pastoral duties on this list very seriously indeed, and that's surely
> one reason why the list is such a nice quiet place to work.
> dk
> ------------------------------
> Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.<http://us.rd.yahoo.com/evt=51438/*http://www.yahoo.com/r/hs>
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Received on Wed Dec 12 16:38 PST 2007

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