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Ch. 8 - Games People Play 
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Post Ch. 8 - Games People Play
Ch. 8 - Games People Play

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 8 - Games People Play.


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Fri Dec 28, 2007 1:18 am
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This chapter didn't hook me, which is strange since I generally find interpersonal dynamics to be fascinating. Maybe that's because I've seen some of the material elsewhere, or maybe Pinker's writing simply wasn't as inspired.

There were some interesting ideas. Conversations typical follow Grice's maxims, such as "be brief" and "be relevant", though people choose to violate those maxims in certain circumstances. Brow and Levinson's Politeness Theory explains how much conversation is structured to allow the people involved to save face (maintain their social status). Pinker explain why indirect conversation may be advantageous, such as a subtle bribe that will work if accepted but won't hurt the briber if ignored.

Anyway, there's just one small chapter to go, which is sort of a relief. I'm pushing myself to keep reading this book.



Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:31 am
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Post uptalk, p 182.
I've read the beginning of chapter 8, and I find it interesting.
As this is my first Pinker book and I am not very keen on linguistics, my reactions may be different from other readers'.

Pinker mentions "uptalk" page 182.

Here is an interesting article from the Guardian about Speech Habits, and "high rise terminals" or "high rising intonation in statements".

Apparently the trend has reached teenagers in the UK, which I was not aware of.

The writer in the Guardian says that girls are more affected than boys by uptalk "Uptalk is a predominantly female tic".

"If women always sound like they're asking for approval or agreement, they seem less sure of themselves" Says Marie-Ellen Drummond.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/referenceandlanguages/story/0,,555817,00.html



The one thing that worries me is this:

Quote:
Lock also has a professional interest in uptalk. Part of her work involves dubbing voices for English language teaching tapes, and she finds that some producers specifically ask her to uptalk in order to imitate how English is spoken by young people - "We have to represent the way kids talk now." In short, if you're a non-English speaker using the new generation of tapes, the way you will learn to speak is uptalk: it's a seismic shift from the clipped 1950s vowels of yesteryear.


This is an example of those crazy ideas when all people think of is making money by sounding trendy.
Teaching intonation effectively is one of the most difficult things in foreign languages, and asking a professional specifically to give wrong models to sound like teenage talk is irresponsible.
The teenager who hears the normal intonations from adults in the English-speaking world can stop the baby talk the moment he decides to do so, but someone whose only model of English are those tapes is likely to feel confused for quite a while, not mentioning sounding like an idiot in, say, the international business world.

I'm not worried about ESL in France in the immediate future though, we'll probably be the last to abandon the teaching of the 'clipped vowels of yesteryear" . "Received Pronunciation" is still very big here -- as far as transmitting sounds is concerned. What the ears of the receivers perceive and their mouths pronounce is another story. :)


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Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:41 am
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I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has taken a while to get through it though as this is a new field for me and I was not immediately able to grasp everything...and I am busy as usual.

I enjoyed the section on polite phrasings and how we talk to each other in the interest of 'face saving'. I personally do not do this as a habit. Those who know me here and in general know I am always one to NOT worry about feelings (not 100% of course) and know that I will state things very plainly whether someone gets upset or not. I just feel that we waste way too much time trying to sugar coat certain things and I prefer the plain straight method.

I usually try to preface my conversation by letting the other know that I mean nothing personal. But to my surprise, very few take that as true I think. Many people get easily offended, as Pinker also notes, but there is only so much caring I can do about that.

One area I am very blunt about is false belief. If someone tells me they believe something that obviously has no proof, or cannot ever BE proven or dis-proven...I am all ready to call it for what it is. This presents problems for me sometimes...but what can I do? I cannot bring myself to placate ignorance or easily hurt feelings for the most part.

Now I do recognize the value of being polite in conversation, and I am able to recognize which situations are best served by turning a phrase a bit differently every now and then to save a situation from becoming bad. I do this every day when I talk to the mindless morons that are my clients and business associates. Sorry, that was harsh was'nt it?

One area of the chapter I did not fully accept was the 'empty speech' we use with each other every day. "How are you?", "What's up?"...those sorts of things. These are not empty to me. If I ask someone how they are feeling, I absolutely mean that I am interested and I prefer a non stock answer. Maybe that is just my "saying what I mean" mentality...but I rarely speak to someone with wasted, empty phrases.

Just some thoughts. I have not been contributing to this Discussion and wanted to get some thoughts in at least.

Mr. P.



Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:46 am
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Post When a lady says "no", she means "maybe"
There are several small things that attracted my attention in Chapter 8 "Games people play".

About politeness and what Pinker calls "the strategic use of vagueness", here is a topic I would not normally introduce at Booktalk, but, since it's in Pinker...

p 396

"When a lady says "no", she means "maybe".
When she says "maybe", she means "yes".
If she says "yes", she is no lady".

Pinker says his source is " a joke from another era".

I'm interersted in the first line here. It often seems to me that (in the real world, that is), men still think this way.

To take a simple single example, Ophelia (I was then a young teacher and new at that school) turns down one of her male colleagues. The man is not a jerk, and (although he is not remotely in what I consider to be a compatible age-group), is a worthy human being, so I turn him down firmly but also being careful to to offend or humiliate: he does not deserve to be humiliated, and also I'll probably be working with him for the next 10 years.

Result: he thinks he is being encouraged, it takes him over a year to understand that "no" doesn't mean "maybe".

Over the years I've heard many women expressing this view to each other, and concluding that the only way to get "No" across was to be bitchy and horrible (usually using vulgar language as well). Then they ( and again I mean normal men, not idiots) get the message "Not being encouraged".
How sad.

I've tried to think of why the misunderstanding seems to persist, in spite of modern women being more and more assertive.

1- Perhaps men and women perceive the world differently, on the lines of the "Venus and Mars " theory.

2- Perhaps men take their worldview from films, in which you perhaps see the confident male character disregarding any signal other than a "yes", and with the gallant hero winning the girl and everything else in the end.

3- Perhaps this is the way men are educated: "don't take "no" as an answer".
Those people turn into excellent businessmen (the customer gives up and buys the product) and our economy flourishes.

4- Perhaps -- could it be?-- some women still behave as in Pinker's joke and don't say what they mean, so men receive confusing signals?


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5) Women are generally just as playful as men.

I am not being a tool here, but today, many women do indeed give conflicting signals. This is NOT to say that there are no women that do not mean 'no' when they say 'no'.

But I also think it in the nature of men to pursue even when there is an obstacle. Could it be our nature, and not anything to do with nurture?

Mr. P.



Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:36 pm
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Building on nature vs nurture, how about an evolution-based explanation, as in:

6- a- Since the beginnings of time, the men who survived were those who wouldn't take "no" for an answer, so this particular gene would have been passed on.


b- In those days, women chose the men who overrode any "nos" because this was instinctively linked with better fertility, reproduction chances...

and YET, at some time in history, some of them began to think for themselves "I'm not interested in this particular chap although looks so strong and determined".

Here, conflict was introduced in women's minds, and even the "No" of a twenty first century woman entails the the "yes" that her ancestor would have chosen.
The woman believes she gives only one message, but the man hears two.


What do you think?


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Post 
Among the crowd I spend time with (liberal hyper-educated geeks), a vast majority of the guys understand that "no means no". Other cross-sections of society may view things differently. Or, it's possible that a small fraction of men who persist after the woman says "no" are far more visible, from women's perspectives, than the guys who back off.

Mr. Pessimistic:
Quote:
Those who know me here and in general know I am always one to NOT worry about feelings (not 100% of course) and know that I will state things very plainly whether someone gets upset or not. I just feel that we waste way too much time trying to sugar coat certain things and I prefer the plain straight method.

Actually, when Pinker talks about "politeness", he's referring to a wide range of conversational patterns that respects other people's emotional needs. Mr. P, since your discourse here is generally civil, you're clearly clued in to the general principles of polite conversation. In other words, you'd say "Could you please pass the salt?" instead of "Give me the salt" to someone you're dining with.

Personally, I feel that I'm below average in terms of the nuances of polite conversation. However, that's just a matter of degree; I fully understood the examples Pinker presented.



Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:53 am
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