[globaloutlookDH-l] Some ideas on list language
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,
> 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
> 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?
> Daniel Paul O'Donnell
> Professor of English
> University of Lethbridge
> Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
> +1 403 393-2539 <tel:%2B1%20403%20393-2539>
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Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
+1 403 393-2539
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