[globaloutlookDH-l] Some ideas on list language

Daniel O'Donnell daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca
Wed May 15 15:40:42 MDT 2013


I won't say I was quite thinking of the Irish, but when I moved back to 
Canada after many years in the States, I had to rein things in a 
little--without even realising I'd got more... well let's call it 
forthright. My wife had a similarly difficult time adjusting the 
bluntness she'd learned in Dutch academia to the Canadian context as well.

Of course it is also easy to stereotype. But I do think there are often 
disciplinary, national, and perhaps even regional cultures to how 
academic debate is carried on.


On 13-05-15 03:16 PM, James O'Sullivan wrote:
> Dear all,
>
> I just want to weigh in here behind Professor O'Donnell, and lend my 
> support to the suggested page on etiquette and tips for emailing in an 
> international context. This is an issue that I often struggle with, as 
> in an Irish context, scholarly debates tend to be pretty forthright. 
> I've often been challenged by colleagues, and have challenged 
> colleagues, in a fashion that, while to us seems normal, may, to 
> another culture, be negatively received. I sometimes find myself 
> wondering if my argument is coming across as too strong or forceful, 
> or conversely, too timid. Of course, this issue is amplified when 
> different languages come into play.
>
> Speaking as a postgraduate who is still feeling their way through a 
> multicultural discipline, this is something from which I would 
> personally benefit, and I'm sure that many other young scholars would 
> feel the same.
>
> Sincerest thanks,
> James
>
>
> On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM, Daniel O'Donnell 
> <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca <mailto:daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>> wrote:
>
>     Hi all,
>
>     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 so on.
>
>     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 in another.
>
>     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 international context?
>
>     -dan
>
>     -- 
>     ---
>     Daniel Paul O'Donnell
>     Professor of English
>     University of Lethbridge
>     Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
>     Canada
>
>     +1 403 393-2539 <tel:%2B1%20403%20393-2539>
>
>
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> -- 
> *James O'Sullivan *
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-- 
---
Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
Canada

+1 403 393-2539

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