RE: [xmca] Terms of Endearment

From: Louise Hawkins <l.hawkins who-is-at>
Date: Thu Dec 13 2007 - 15:41:00 PST

I moved from England to Australia when I was 16yrs old. I was not expecting the culture shock I felt. Same language different meanings with so many things. The differences were reinforced when I returned to England for a holiday and seemed to be offending people by making eye-contact and smiling at complete strangers in the street (every day occurrence in Australia, but considered bad taste in England).

I am sure the adding dramatic changes in culture and language pose exponentially bigger problems, but sometimes the fact that you are not expecting difficulties with interaction makes them more of a surprise. You are not forgiven so easily for errors when the language is the same.

Louise Hawkins

-----Original Message-----
From: bella kotik []
Sent: Friday, 14 December 2007 02:01 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Terms of Endearment

How interesting: in Israel, though so different culture we have the same syndrome. Everybody is called by the first name and nicknames of politicians are used by mass media. As a new immigrant from a different world (Russia) I still have some difficulty- I call some of my older (or less
close) Russia-speaking friends using "wy"=usted in Spanish, but my daughter who was immersed in the Hebrew language and culture at the age 12 uses "TY"
in Russian even to people whom I call "wy".
This things are interiorised in the context and really difficult to teach just as a part new (foreign/second) of language.
Bella Kotik-Friedgut

On 12/13/07, Ana Paula B. R. Cortez <> wrote:
> Dear David (Professor Kellog? Mr Kellog? Mr David?),
> Although being part of western culture as well, we, Brazilians, suffer
> from what we can call " the extreme intimacy syndrome". We never,
> ever, call anyone by their surname. Have you ever noticed that those
> football star T-shirts display names such as "Ronaldinho", "Kaka",
> "Romario", "Pelé"? Has anyone ever wondered why it is so? Blame the
> syndrome. What about the president of the country? Luis Inácio LULA da
> Silva? Even the nickname was included in his name. Nobody calls him
> "Mr Silva", but Lula. If I were to address to him, I'd never call him
> "Sir" (sorry, it's part of the local culture).
> Now, picture the difficulties I find when I am teaching. I work at two
> different contexts: at university, where (of course!) I should be
> called "Mrs Cortez", but all I get is "Ana" (I don't even bother
> asking them to call me differently); and at a bilingual school, where
> (supposedly) the environment should be English-speaking only. Ok, most
> of them call me "Mrs Cortez" there, but then there are more chances of
> my being called "Mrs Corta", "Cortez", "Mrs" etc... new nicknames!
> As you said, we don't teach "English", but human interaction. If I'm
> to interact with students that are using the language in a context
> where terms of endearment are very intimate, I believe I have to be
> careful to emphasize that it could never happen in an English-speaking country, only in Brazil.
> So, I warn them to use the proper titles when in Canada, USA, UK,
> Australian, wherever abroad.
> However, the other way is a funny thing too: what do foreigners do
> when in Korea? If Koreans are supposed to follow and respect
> English-speaking countries protocol, do English speakers do the same
> when in Korea? All I can tell you is that we have a fun time speaking
> to foreigners here in Brazil, they just can't get too intimate! And feel like fish out of water...
> I'm not following any theory here, it is just my own way of thinking:
> if in Rome, do like the Romans. This is human interaction.
> Now, I don't know how I'm supposed to close the message. What should I
> write? Regards? Best Wishes? Or, something more daring, like Brazilians:
> Xoxo? Whatever!
> Ana Paula
> David Kellogg <> escreveu:
> 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
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Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
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Received on Thu Dec 13 16:10 PST 2007

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