Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




Total Pageviews

Monday, October 24, 2016

TWO MAJOR DISCOVERIES

Let me just report that the power has gone out in my kitchen.  When it rains, there is a hurricane!

However, I have made two important discoveries. First, yesterday evening we had dinner with two of my favorite people, Anne Berry and Philip Minns, both of whom are professional simultaneous translators [I am in awe.]  I told them my sad tale about Orange and Philip informed me that the sign I saw in the two Orange shops warning that abusive language directed against Orange employees will be prosecuted can also be seen in government offices and the Metro.  In short, all France is beside itself at bureaucracy, not just at Orange.

Second, this morning I called the English language Orange help line to get the number I need in order to swap my TV decoder box [cable box, we would say] for a new one, and the woman on the line was extremely friendly and helpful!  From tbis I deduce that the intolerable rudeness and unhelpfulness I have encountered at Orange stores is not the fault of Orange.  It is built into the French language.  The very same employees, when speaking English, are as friendly as North Carolinians.

I wonder whether Noam Chomsky has observed this in his deep study of language.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

That would be Sociolinguistics--not Noam's area. He does grammar/syntax.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I was joking!!!!!

s. wallerstein said...

When I was in France many years ago, people generally were rude to me, but I assumed that that was due to my horrendous French pronunciation, which French people considered an insult to their beautiful tongue. However, I recall once trying to order something in a Paris café, being insulted by the waiter and being rescued by someone who spoke perfect French, but seemed Middle-Eastern, maybe an Arab. That fellow was very polite to me and patiently explained to me how to go about ordering stuff in a French café without being insulted by the waiter. Since that very polite fellow spoke French, it seems that rudeness is not inherent to the French language per se, but that French culture, as practiced by "true Frenchmen", does not prize politeness, especially to foreigners, as much as
some other cultures do.

Anonymous said...

wallerstein, your POV is clearly "true American" (aka the vast generalization from a seemingly innocuous bad day that the waiter was having, or perhaps your own innocently faux-pas behavior).

Not to condemn you, but perhaps you shouldn't jump to conclusions (the Middle Eastern "Maybe an Arab" is perhaps a third generation Parisian). There are rude people everywhere, in every culture.

s. wallerstein said...

My French accent is especially atrocious and that seems to irritate lots of French people.

A few years later I had a French girl friend (who was studying in the U.S.) and she was trying and trying to teach me the French "r". Her patience with my linguistic clumsiness was not infinite and one day as we walked along the beach, she informed me in her heavily accented English (which I found charming and sexy, although she did not return the compliment): "baby, you will never learn".

Since then, over 40 years ago, I have not uttered a word in French, although I read it fairly well.

Tom Cathcart said...

Totally off topic, but I just made a bunch of Get Out the Vote calls to North Carolina. There are more things out there, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies! One man told me that if I wanted to know what was going to happen to both candidates, all I had to do was read Revelation 13. I thanked him and hung up.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

And the number of the beast was six hundred and three score and six.

Tom Cathcart said...

Aha!

Matt said...

Russian, which I speak but not without some difficulty, is a much more "direct" language than English, at least as it's typically spoken in the US. A lot of times, where you'd say, in English, something like "Here is the X", when you give something to someone, in Russian you say "Take it". And, in general, when you'd put things in the form of a question or conditional or request in English, you put it in terms of a command in Russian. And, when you answer the phone in Russia, it's normal (not always done, but certainly common) to just say "Da" (that is, "Yes".) There are lots of other examples, too. This _feels_ very rude to a native English speaker, but at least somewhat less rude to a Russian speaker. (My wife, who is Russian, sometimes tries to claim that things like this are not rude at all, but at the same time, she does notice, when she's back there, that people seem a lot more rude - much more direct, less social lubrication, etc.) When I am there, I do have to remind myself that, when people speak like this, they are at least not necessarily trying to be rude, as someone doing the same thing in English would be.