[globaloutlookDH-l] Some ideas on list language
daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca
Wed May 15 15:07:48 MDT 2013
I had somebody ask me the other day about whether there should be any
special advice for posting to a list like this--"like this" in the sense
of explicitly multicultural, very conscious of multilingual issues, and
We've obviously been discussing aspects of language use in a variety of
contexts on the list, but I don't think we've had a metadiscussion about
how we should post to this list--things to keep in mind, to be careful
of, and so on.
Here's some of the things I suggested. What do others think?
1) Be really careful about humour, especially humour that could be
misread as being dismissive, insulting, or mockery. One reason for this
is because, as is well known, email doesn't convey tone well at all. But
in the case of this specific list, we are also dealing with a variety of
different academic cultures--what comes across as normal bantering in a
more free-rolling academic culture may appear to be extremely aggressive
2) Be careful about allusions to pop culture, and national history and
politics. Many people may not get them. But more importantly, allusions
and inside jokes shared among a small group of people can quickly create
a sense of exclusion among those who don't know the references being made.
3) Since this is an academic list, we will find ourselves disagreeing
with each other, attempting to correct or improve each other's ideas,
and so on. In keeping with (1), be careful about how you phrase these
disagreements: again, what may seem like relatively light criticism in
one academic culture may seem crushing in another; and especially if
there are language issues involved, it can be difficult to clear things
up. This doesn't mean that we can't criticise each other's ideas, but
rather that we should always try to phrase this disagreement as
constructively and supportively as possible.
4) Generally, try to write in short sentences and using common words
(this is true, BTW, of all languages on the list): you are being read by
people who are not as strong in your language as you are.
5) Always try to provide context for people: use more links to external
sites than you might normally (e.g. to explain ideas and give examples.
If people think this is good and especially have additional ideas, we
could perhaps publish a page on etiquette and tips for emailing in an
Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
+1 403 393-2539
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