Monday, February 8, 2010

Universal and specifics and im/polite

In the foreword to Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead's advisor, Franz Boas, wrote of its significance:

"Courtesy, modesty, good manners, conformity to definite ethical standards are universal, but what constitutes courtesy, modesty, very good manners, and definite ethical standards is not universal. It is instructive to know that standards differ in the most unexpected ways."[citation needed]

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Can machines be polite?

An interesting power point about machines and their lack of politeness. Michael A. Covington, Artificial Intelligence Center, University of Georgia

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Im/polite Global Construction Kit

Under construction. Send in your ideas, questions, etc.

In order to rethink politeness conventions and try to construct a revised or new set for universal use, I've been thinking about:

What are the values, beliefs and attitudes that should be the guiding principles for the development and use of a universal politeness set of conventions? For example: equity, fairness, thoughtfulness, save face...

What are the kinds of things we want to be able to do with/you can do with the conventions? For example: accept and reject, say yes, say no, praise, achieve our needs, enter and exit a conversation or a relationship, sgive a gift, say thank you...

What tools do we have available to us to help us convey our goals? For example: hands, nose eyes, mouth, stance, movement, getting closer, getting further away, touch, speech, tone, dress, pen and paper, grammatical features, internet...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Learning from animals

"Lessons from Geese" was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and was based on the work of Milton Olson.

Lessons from Geese - How can you apply each one for enhancing or guiding human interactions and new im/politeness guidelines? In what ways are humans like and different from these geese social behaviors? Which of these behaviors ought to/could be part of our new guidelines for politeness?

1. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

2. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

3. When the lead bird tires, it rotates back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

4. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

5. When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Definitions and Im/polite

Under construction - What's your definition? Please send in.

From The Free Dictionary by Farlex - Collins English Dictionary

po·lite (p-lt)
adj. po·lit·er, po·lit·est
1. Marked by or showing consideration for others, tact, and observance of accepted social usage.
2. Refined; elegant: polite society.

Brown and Levinson (1978)Politeness "as a complex system for softening face threats".

Leech (l980) Politeness is "strategic conflict avoicdance" which "can be measured in terms of the degree of effort put into the avoidance of a conflict situation".

Sifianou (1992) Politeness is "the set of coail values which instructs interactants to consider each other by satisfying shared expectations".

Robin Lakoff (1975)"Politeness is developed by societies in order to reduce friction in personal interaction".

Arndt and Janney (1985) politeness is "interpersonal supportiveness".

Ide (1989) Politeness is "language associated with smooth communication".

Hill et al (1986) Politeness is "one of the constraints on human interaction, whose purpose is to consider others' feelings, establish levels of mutual of mutual comfort and promote rapport".

Words and Im/polite


English - courteous, educated, refined, respectful, thoughtful


English - caddish, coarse, crude, discourteous, gauche, gross, ignorant, ill breeding, ill manners, inconsiderate, insensitive, insulting, inurbanity, lacking good manners, mannerless, nasty, offensive, rude, tactless, ungentlemanly, ungracious, unpolished, vulgar

Spanish - mala educación, chabacanería, desatención, descortesía, grosería, impeopiedad, ineducación, malacrianza, zafiedad, incluto, mal educado

Resources and references

Under Construction

1. "Politeness is more than "Por favor" is borrowed from Anne McLellan Howard the title of her article "Politeness is More than 'Please'. This article gives two activities on politeness for Business English.

2. Leech, Geoff Theoretical Lists six maxims: tact, generosity, approbation, modesty, agreement, and sympathy. Geoff Leech, The Politeness Principle, theoretical. Engage in an atmosphere of relative harmony using tact, generosity, approbation, modesty, agreement and sympathy strategies.

3. Tannen, Deborah Theory plus application

4. Goffman, Erving, The Presentation of Self in Everday Life, all the worlds a stage.

5. Brown and Levinson, Theoretical, Politeness:Some universals in language usage, Cambridge University Press, first edition 1978, actual 2009 - new introduction, a classic in the field. Discusses the principles for constructing polite speech.

6. Hall, Edward T., The Silent Language, The Hidden Dimension and Beyond Culture.

7. Eviatar Zerubavel, Social Mindscapes, An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology, Harvard University Press