What does this sign mean to you?
Do you often add it to your tweets, sms, or quick messages to friends, family, acquaintances? Why? If you took it off would it change the message?
On a lazy, sunny, snowy afternoon in Paris I joined 55 others from around the world to listen to Chia Suan Chong share her thoughts and research on Politeness and Pragmatics in ELF. Chia did a marvelous job of interacting, polling, asking us questions and listening to feedback. It was a fine example of how webinars can be great for professional development and I thank the Besig team for making it available to us all.
I finished the presentation with two strong take-aways. One, that politeness is truly complex and VERY subjective, and two that it thus lives embedded in our cultures and languages, and knowing one without the other really doesn’t give you a full picture. Or, as I read on another blog this weekend “learning the code, but not how to use it to make beautiful melodies” will result in failed intercultural communication.
Maybe I’ll write a book about it one day (even if I’d be far from the first to do so), but for today, I would like to tip my hat to Chia and to add a bit of etymological enquiry as to whom the model for “propriety” in European culture was (where propriety comes from those having property according to etymonline).
From Latin, nobilis meaning “well-known, famous, of noble birth” and hence the noble families of Rome of that time. Of the same origin but from greek comes gnostic (or agnostic), those who “know“. Of course nobles knew how to be…
Con = with, and sidus=constellation, hence considerare in Latin meant “to look at closely, observe,” and etymonline says perhaps even literally “to observe the stars”. This makes sense to me as those who are most considerate are those who are most aware of their surrounding, context and treat all with…
Those who are considerate and respectful are obviously aware of their surroundings and it might be because they have a higher perspective… from atop their horses!!! Yes, the noble gentlemen who rode a “cheval” (horse in french) were those who chivalrous. Interesting enough this word disappeared from both French and English in the 1600s and only came back into use thanks to late 18c English romantic writers.
By the way, what’s the opposite of polite?
VULGAR… or in Latin, vulgaris: “of or pertaining to the common people“
1) Our ideas of politeness come from our upbringing, which comes from our family history, which comes from our cultural history, which amazingly is still visible in our language.
2) Cross a border and it’s often not the same, so we then have to pay close attention, and yes, “When in Rome…”
3) Treat your students courteously with re-look, as if they were gentle Roman noblemen and women gazing at the stars on top of their polished horses.