3.12.09

Sex, Sighs, and Conversation: Why Men and Women Can't Communicate - by: Deborah Tannen

A man and a woman were seated in a car that had been circling the same area for a half hour. The woman was saying, "Why don't we just ask someone?" The man was saying, not for the first time, "I'm sure it's around here somewhere. I'll just try this street."

Why are so many men reluctant to ask directions? Why aren't women? And why can't women understand why men don't want to ask? The explanation, for this and for countless minor and major frustrations that women and men encounter when they talk to eachother, lies in the different ways that they use language-- differences that begin with how girls and boys use language as children, growing up in different worlds.

Anthropologists, sociologists ans psychologists have found that little girls play in small groups or in pairs; they have a best friend, with whom they spend a lot of time talking. It's the telling of secrets that makes them best friends. they learn to use language to negotiate intimacy--to make connections and feel close to each other.

Boys, on the other hand, tend to play competitive games in larger groups, which are hierarchical. High-status boys give orders, and low-status boys are pushed around. So boys learn to use language to preserve independence and negotiate their status, trying to hold center stage, challenge and resist challenges, display knowledge and verbal skill.

These divergent assumptions about the purpose of language persist into adulthood, where they lie in wait behind cross-gender conversations, ready to leap out and cause puzzlement or grief. In the case of asking for directions, the same interchange is experienced differently by women and men. From a woman's perspective, you ask for help, you get it, and you get to where you're going. A fleeting connection is made with a stranger, which is fundamentally pleasant. But a man is aware that by admitting ignorance and asking for information, he positions himself one-down to someone else. Far from pleasant, this is humiliating. So it makes sense for him to preserve his independence and self-esteem at the cost of a little extra travel time.

The Crazy English Language - by: Alex Jun

English is the most widely used language in the history of mankind. In almost every country there is someone who can speak English. Some of the noblest works of literature, such as the ones by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and George Orwell are in English.

Nevertheless English is a crazy language. For example, there is no egg in eggplant or pine in pineapple, and no ham in hamburguer. French fries weren't invented in France or English muffins in England.

We take English for granted. But when we look into its unique flaws, we find that quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square, and guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig. Also, why is it that a writer writes but fingers don't fing and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose two geese, so why no one moose two meese?

If the teacher taught, why hasn't the preacher prought? If horsehair mat is made from the hair of horses and a camel's hair coat made from the hair of camels, from what is a mohair coat made? Furthermore if a vegetarian eats vegetables what does a humanitarian eat?

I sometimes think that all English speakers should be treated in an institute for the verbally insane. In what other language do people drive in a parkway and park in a driveway? Have noses that run and feet that smell? Recite at a play and play at a recital? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, when a wise guy and a wise man are opposites?

You must wonder at the unique craziness of English in which your house can burn up as it burns down and how your alarm clock goes off by going on.

English was created by people not computers. That's why some vocabulary and phrases may sound peculiar and not make sense to some foreigners. But this reflects the creativity of the human race (which is not a race at all). That's why when stars are out they are visible, but when the lights are out it is invisible. And when I wind up my watch I start it but when I wind up this essay... I end it.

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Unknown date... taken from a Language II reading pack.

AMAZING! I love it! =D