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. http://exchanges.state.gov/media/oelp/teaching-pragmatics/howard-rev.pdf

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

Im/polite 100days Image

Images, videos, jokes and cartoons for Im/polite


Comic George Carlin's spoken list of impolite words: http://mog.com/music/George_Carlin/Carlin_on_Campus/An_Incomplete_List_of_Impolite_Words

An Ancient Story

A man who led basically a good life died and was assigned to Hell for a short time. He discovered that the main torture in Hell was that everyone was forced to eat with spoons that were longer than their arms. The condemned spent eternity in the midst of excellent food they couldn't eat. When he was finally transferred up to Heaven, he found that the blessed were given the same spoons. In heaven, howver, no one went hungry because they fed each other.

4. Here you will find some cartoons on social skills:

Asymmetric politeness

Check out Dr. Seuss video The Zax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfI9e4BX0lU

Some more Dr. Seuss: The Grinch Grinches The Hat in the Cat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEGGTqutLpA and The Sneetches Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln3V0HgW4eM&feature=related and part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0LgMpfLD1Y&NR=1

Literature and Im/politeness

The Monkey and the Fish

An oriental fable

...Once upon a time, there was a great flood, and involved in this flood were two creatures--a monkey and a fish. The monkey, being agile and experienced, was lucky enough to scramble up a tree and escape the raging waters. As he looked down from his safe perch he saw the poor fish struggling against the swift current. With the very best of intentions, he reached down and lifted the fish from the water.

-------Anonymous fable

Sent from a member of the psychart list group. "There is a wonderful (impolite) folk song "Samuel Hall." Hall is speaking before his hanging:

My name is Samuel Hall, Samuel Hall
You're a bunch of buggers all, God damn your eyes."

It describes his crime and capture with similar abuse of the police, his victim and, of course, the listeners.Is this pertinent?"

You will find lots of sites on the net for this song and its personage from Wikipedia on......

3. Polite Fiction, for example the fiction of Jane Austen

4. Æsop. (Sixth century B.C.) Fables.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

NOW you must know that a Town Mouse once upon a time went on a visit to his cousin in the country. He was rough and ready, this cousin, but he loved his town friend and made him heartily welcome. Beans and bacon, cheese and bread, were all he had to offer, but he offered them freely. The Town Mouse rather turned up his long nose at this country fare, and said: “I cannot understand, Cousin, how you can put up with such poor food as this, but of course you cannot expect anything better in the country; come you with me and I will show you how to live. When you have been in town a week you will wonder how you could ever have stood a country life.” No sooner said than done: the two mice set off for the town and arrived at the Town Mouse’s residence late at night. “You will want some refreshment after our long journey,” said the polite Town Mouse, and took his friend into the grand dining-room. There they found the remains of a fine feast, and soon the two mice were eating up jellies and cakes and all that was nice. Suddenly they heard growling and barking. “What is that?” said the Country Mouse. “It is only the dogs of the house,” answered the other. “Only!” said the Country Mouse. “I do not like that music at my dinner.” Just at that moment the door flew open, in came two huge mastiffs, and the two mice had to scamper down and run off. “Good-bye, Cousin,” said the Country Mouse, “What! going so soon?” said the other. “Yes,” he replied;

Mother Goose

Jack Sprat
Could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean;
And so,
Betwixt them both,
They licked the platter clean.

Film and Im/politeness

1. Buñuel's film, The Phantom of Liberty 1974 -- a curious politeness reversal and lots of other reversals and situational curiosities. What's private is public, what's public is private is just one of them. There is a scene where guests arrive, are invited to sit around a table surrounded by toilets for their social interactions and when they are hungry they must politely excuse themselves and go off to a hidden cabinet to eat. A very interesting and challenging film. Link to see the segment Eating could be impolite on Youtube: http://bit.ly/9BP9Z9

2. Pleasantville, 1998 fantasy comedy/drama film written, produced, and directed by Gary Ross. Released by New Line Cinema, Pleasantville stars Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Marley Shelton, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, and Jeff Daniels. Don Knotts, Paul Walker, Jane Kaczmarek, and J. T. Walsh are also featured. Has ending focusing on politeness and behavior rules for the community.

Marjorie Kanter Short Literary Pieces and Im/politeness

the Locker room

one lady leaves,
leaving the door open behind her.
a second, half-nude, runs to close it.
a little later
she is finished dressing and
leaves the door open behind (her).
a third hurries to cerrarla.
she leaves and i run to close up.
i finish dressing and then i leave
closing the door for the empty-emptied room,
the door and the room not being able
to do it for themselves.

-------------Marjorie Kanter from "I displace the air as I walk"

2. Mint Tea

I served my
in her
mint tea.

We're still

-------------Marjorie Kanter from "I displace the air as I walk"


madre e hijo

Ella le dijo: Cómete los (e)spaghettis.
Él le dijo: No quiero más.
Por ello le dio un tirón de orejas.
El dijo que no, por segunda vez.
Ella le volvió a tirar de las orejas y el repitió QUE NO.
A la cuarta vuelta,
había recibido suficientes tirones de orejas
y acabó los (e)spaghettis,
dej(ando) el plato limpio,
sin rastro.

Cuando se marcharon,
me dí cuenta
(de) que él
tenia las orejas
(muy) grandes,
más grandes de lo normal.

-----translated from the English, from The Saddle Stitch Notebooks


Posted tweets

1. What does it mean to be im/polite? Send me your ideas.

2. Can animals be polite and impolite?

3. How do we work out that different groups and different cultures use different rules/conventions for what is im/polite?

4. Is there a right and a wrong way to be im/polite?

5. Can you be im/polite if you don’t know the rules?

6. Politeness-engage in n atmosphere of relative harmony: tact/generosity/approbation/modesty/agreement/sympathy

7. Can you be polite and impolite at the same time.

8. Can you be im/polite only in your thoughts (without putting it into action) and still be im/polite?

9. Is it/can it be im/polite to ask how to be polite?

10. Check out curious politeness reversal in Luis Buñuel´s film The Phantom of Liberty. Private is public and public is private. 1974

11. How can you be polite if you don’t know how to be polite?

12. How do you learn the rules or conventions of being polite when you don’t know them?

13. Can you be im/polite to yourself?

14. Can a lie be polite?

15. Is it impolite to tell someone they’re being impolite?

16. Can you imagine a world (what it would be like to be) without rules/conventions for im/politeness?

17. Read The Monkey and the Fish at http://marjoriekanterprojects.blogspot.com/ How important point of view is. Add to this: Is it impolite to impose your way on osmeone else when that is not their way?

18. Lies mixed with extreme and good politeness conventions can be a very dangerous thing.

19. Are there polite and impolite ways to teach im/politeness?

20. What polite things did you do today and what polite things happened to you?

21. You are amongst a group of cannibals and they have chosen to integrate you into their society. Are you impolite to refuse to eat?

22. Politeness is more than “Por favor”. http://im-polite100days.blogspot.com/

23. Polite exchange: Be the first to get up and make breakfast, be the last to get up and make the bed. Edited version: First to get up makes breakfast, last to get up makes the bed.

24. The human mind can be creative, invent things; let’s get creative about politeness.

25. What’s polite in one culture might be impolite in another.
Post examples: eyes, thumbs up, who can talk when

26. When some people get crowded they push.

27. Conventions and inventions: Why are people like they are?

28. Why do we eat sardines yet never goldfish, ducks yet never parrots? Eviatar Zerubavel

29. Japanese proverb: When you are polite, the others think they are wearing flowers.

30. Courtesy walking/ Why do I always have to be the one to get out of the way? M. Kanter (I displace the air as I walk)

31. Politeness conventions change over time.

32. Is it impolite to give directions when you don’t really know?

33. Does it matter who is impolite first?

34. Do you know how to take turns?

35. A politeness convention must be an agreement between at least two people.

36. Anti-politeness statement: All is fair in love and war.

37. Can you drop a bomb politely?

38. “The English are polite by telling lies. The Americans are polite by telling the truth.”

39. Is it impolite to ignore a beggar?

40. Do you always say what you mean? Do you always mean what you say?

41 How do you stay polite when you are feeling angry or frustrated?

42 Is it im/polite if a woman kisses a man's hand instead of a man kissing the woman's hand?

43 Can you be politely impolite? If your answer is yes, give an example.

44 Can it ever be polite to be impolite?

45 Did politeness conventions come about for altruistic reasons?

46 How do you know when close is too close for comfort?

47 All2gether 123:tenpeople sitn round a table at the same time = ten simultaneously talkingpeople = Spain #100days

48.Overheard talk:Calla niño, es de mala educación hablar con la boca llena. Shut up kid. It's impolite to talk with ur mouth full.

49. What's your politeness orientation?

50. Leaving my yoga class early: Do I say good-bye or do I elect not to interrupt and just walk out? Which is more im/polite?

51. What do you think? Politeness conventions require fair intentions?

52. Things ucan do with impolite conventions: Interrupt Insult Reject Ignore Changetopics Hogthetalktime Hangup Avoid What else?

53. Sum things u can do withpolite behaviors:Thank WelcomeTaketurns Changetopic Apologize Request Exit Enteraconversation Whatelse?

54. Extreme impoliteness: He jumped down my throat.

55. Tools for expressing im/politeness:EyesHandsNoseMouthWords SoundsToneBody ClothingTelephoneTimeSpacePlaceFistWhat else?

56. Use of tools:MovementPositionDistanceStanceTouchGettingcloser GettingfurtherawayStaring ArrivaltimeExpectedtimeHangup What else?

57. I learned to be polite because it was the polite thing to do.

58. SicilianPverb "It's notpolite2eat just thecenter ofthecheese &just
the breadcrust "Do: Findsome1 wholikes theoppositeof u&share.

59. Check out, enjoy and comment: Dr Seuss The Zax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfI9e4BX0lU

60. Whogets last seat?FastestOldestFem in very hiheelsXhaustd young
workr Woman+babyPerson with bigheavyboxSmallchildDrunkHandicapd

61. There is more than one way to represent the world.

62. Words 2 rhyme polite:FightFrightKnightMighInvitetRightSpiteFlightBlight DelightKnightInciteAlrightSlightUptightTonightInsight

63. Can machines be polite? http://im-polite100days.blogspot.com/

64 Polite fiction:social scenario+all r aware of a truth but pretend 2 believe other version of events to avoid emabarrass or conflict

65 Reversiblity/If I did that to her/she wouldn't like it./(so) why does she do/it to me? www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

66 Watch your p's and q's. It all depends on the culture. Did you know that thumbs up can be very insulting in some cultures?

67 Wewere in2ndgrade:Teacher toldus 2 butonup r lips,zip themup.I did agood sewing job, butTommydidn't & hegot his ear pulled good.

68 Linguist visitinSpain asksSpaniard Whendine?Spanishtime or realtime? Spaniard says Realtime. Visitor showsup at6, Spaniard at10.#100days

69 Which culture/value/behavior takes precedence when several r in conflict or contradiction?Which can cohabit in their diferences? #100days

70 Could it be that a person you think is impolite or rude thinks the same about you?#100days

71 Crossing cultures: It can all be so confusing.

72 Sometimes I don't know how to behave and I wish I did.

73 She knew/Why didn't she tell me? www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

74 What's the difference between an im/polite person and an im/polite act? http://bit.ly/77jlIT #100days

75 It's very hard to combat polite impolitenesses.

76 What happens when 2 verypolitepeople who come from different cultures with different conventions try to be(have) polite(ly)?

77 How many times do you say good-bye before it's really good-bye? Could add this but not there: before you really leave before other really leaves.

78 Double standard: What things can a member of a culture (an insider) do that a non-member (an outsider) can't and vice versa?

79 Duble implite:Who ismore impolite-(u) walkinbtween 2 people who r talkin&blocking the aisle allowing no one 2 get by,u or they?

80 TheGreat Pretender/Heknows how 2listen withoutlistening.FromTheSaddle StitchNotebooks #1 WorksinProcess www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

81 What animal behaviors might be precursors to human im/politeness behaviors?

82 Cafe sitting//Today's/the day//for nose pickers/walking by.//I'm on my 5th one. www.elasunto.com/mkd.htm

83 "Politeness: the most acceptable hypocrisy." Ambrose Bierce

84 Have a conversation today on im/polite with someone. Let us know how it went. We're spreading the word!

85 .heT dreor ni hihcw gtshni r node anc b pimtnaort The order in which things are done can be important.

86a CanAWishBPolite? This is a 2 part tweet. This is part 1.

86b ItHasStartd2Rain//I watchan eldrly/gentlmn/asHe/unfoldsacloth/hankerchief/&placesit/care(ful)y/ovrhishead./(Ihopeit'sjustadrizl)

87 How do u -know how/learn how 2- take someone else's point of view?

88 Can you b im/polite to the universe?

89HoldinHerUP/Thiswoman callsme onthephon./Shetalks&talks&tlks&tk./Then allof asuden Isay2words,mayb3./Shenervouslysays,I’ve got2go. from “I displace the air as I walk”, M. Kanter.

90 Politeness conventions can b used 4 different purposes; the way in which they r used is/can b

91 It sounddlike acompliment but itwas reallyan insult.Thewholestory isin thecombinationofWordsToneVolume IntentionGestureMovmentetc.

92 There seems2 b a rudenes epidemic runing all around town:NoiseDogshitGarbagemaking Unfairsharing of resources What else?

93 What do u/do we/do about/do with those who use politeness conventions 4 unfair practices?

94 Let’splay royalty&pauper 4theday. Who gets2play what?Now reverse theroles. How do u have 2behave in each&howdo ufeel?

95 Can u b 2 polite?

96a What values&beliefs go with politeness conventions? Howdo theywork 2gether&in

96b ModestyHonestyAppearances Equity&FairnesSafety Power relationshipsRespectetc.Whatr thevalues&beliefs 2b taken in2 consideratn?

97 Politeness where did it come from where is it where is it going where do we want it to go where could it go?

98a How do we/can we rewrite this politeness biz 2 meet values, attitudes&beliefs that can work on a universal level?

98b Which existing
conventions canb used&whichmust b totaly changd?

99 ¿Polite or impolite? From whose point of view, urs or mine or ours or theirs or everybodies?

100 100 How did these conventions come about anyway!?!

Proverbs, sayings etc.

Under Construction

"To find out what others are feeling, don't prod or poke. If you want play with a turtle, you can't get it to come out of its shell by prodding and poking it with a stick, you might kill it. Be gentle not harsh, hard or forceful." - Source Unknown

"Politeness -- The most acceptable hypocrisy." - Ambrose Bierce

"A true gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude." Oscar Wilde

"(A gentleman) is any man who wouldn’t hit a woman with his hat on." Fred Allen

"Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he becomes polite." Jean Kerr

"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite." Winston Churchill |

"There is a kind of courtesy in skepticism. It would be an offense against polite conventions to press our doubts too far." George Santayana |

"Rudeness is not something people take lightly," said Caldwell, "and that almost seems to be hard-wired into us."

"When you feel that the people you are dealing with day to day don't have manners, it gives you the feeling that the world is somehow coming apart," said Tannen. "It makes you feel that everything is out of control."

"Too much politeness conceals deceit." Chinese proverb

"One can conceal a murder but not impoliteness." Chinese proverb

"When a man is trying to sell you something, don't imagine that he is polite all the time." Edgar Watson Howe

"Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other." Mark Twain

"Polite strangers often tell soothing lies about our physical appearance that prevent many of us from facing, discussing and solving our real problems." Martha Beck

“Manners are the hypocrisy of a nation.” Honore de Balzac

Description of the Im/polite project in process

Under construction

New project begun December 1, 2009.
I am working on the theme of communication and im/politeness for onehundreddays.
-100 Im/polite Tweets http://bit.ly/77jlIT
-Amongst other things I am writing one tweet on the theme per day.
-I'm also interested in words from other languages that refer to im/politenes (both). Please send on.
-And I am working on defining im/politeness, exploring human behavior and politeness and looking toward trying to come up with ten politeness rules for the global world, that everyone can agree on, a difficult task, but a good thing to talk about and think about. You can email longer messages to margiekanter@gmail.com

Today, December 1, 2009, I am beginning my hundred day project. I look for your collarboration. My project is to explore im/polite across cultures. I will begin by defining im/polite, both concepts. I am interested in your views on these two words. What do you feel, think and do in their realms? Can you be impolite if you don't know the rules?

Labels: impolite, investigation, intervention, performance, research, literature, London word festival, polite, interactive project, participate, word art project