communication

“Fans jävla förbannade skitstövel!”

yellow tassel

If I am REALLY angry, I always curse in Swedish.

Despite having lived and spoken English for over 15 years now (I dream and think in English, apart from when I talk about memories and things that are “stored” in Swedish), I swear in Swedish.

Profanity is experiencing a renaissance right now. A Profanaissance, if you will. There’s more swearing on television than ever before, and even cursing at work is considered acceptable in a lot of places these days (assuming you’re not swearing at someone). Increasingly they’re an integral part of almost everyone’s language.

Part of the reason for the increase in cussing is that psychologists keep finding benefits to swearing. An F-bomb can help you tolerate the pain you feel when you stub your toe. Repeating curse words when you’re performing an athletic feat can make you stronger. People who swear more even seem to lie less. Basically, swearing makes you a powerful human incapable of deception(!). It’s like a superpower!

Though swearing has a number of advantages, for me, doing it in English is disappointingly unsatisfying: since it is not my native tongue, it just doesn’t do the trick. Why? In part, the reason is obvious: if you weren’t taught growing up that a word is bad, then it won’t seem that bad to you. It’s like when a child runs around screaming the F-word because they recently learned it. They won’t realize why their parents are looking on in horror until they’re scolded. It is MUCH easier for me to use REALLY bad language in English than it ever can be using the equivalent in Swedish.

Studying Our Swearing Habits

Expletives seem to hold a very special place in the human mind. In one study, a patient had a severe case of aphasia — brain damage that causes someone to have difficulty with language — but he still had the ability to swear.

Another study looked specifically at swearing in other languages. The researchers had Polish students translate texts that were filled with curse words, both general swear words and ethnic slurs, to see how they would translate them. When they translated from English into their native Polish, they tended to tone down how offensive the words were. When the students translated in the other direction, they scaled their offensiveness up. If this teaches us anything, it’s that it may be ideal to avoid ethnic slurs in a new language (if that wasn’t already obvious).

I have a lust for dessert!

Straight translations can be both entertaining and dangerous… For example, one of the German equivalents of saying “I want to have dessert” would be Ich habe Lust auf Nachtisch, which literally translates back to “I have lust for dessert.” If a German were to say this to you in English, you might be a bit weirded out because “lust” has certain… connotations. Alternatively, the dessert may be of a different kind that you originally had in mind!

I have learnt to be more careful with swearing in other languages. If you’ve only learned a word by reading it, you might think it’s something light-hearted when it’s actually not. The French love to use “fuck” liberally because there’s some emotional distance there, which can cause English-speakers to recoil. I am always VERY entertained by watching the interactions!

Even within a language, there can be differences in swearing culture. The British use “cunt” with wild abandon, whereas in the United States, it is probably the most taboo word. I personally find it VERY offensive.  

Swear words are culturally constructed, so to use them well, we need to learn about the culture that uses them.

Or should we just stop swearing in every language to stay safe? But fy fan, how boring would THAT be?!

My Dream-Me is pretty harsh…

Angela Spang

I have embarked on the daunting journey of writing a book….or three, more accurately. Apparently I have a lot to say (who knew)…

I have always been a fan of objective viewing of self, as we tend to be either overly critical or alternatively not clear on our strengths and how we should manage them in relation to other people (and their potential shortcomings in the same area), but I have to say that I am taking it to a new level now!

The other day I woke up in the middle of a dream, and clearly the book writing challenge has made quite an impact — I am obviously pretty occupied with the idea since I was actually DREAMING about it. This is slightly concerning since I haven’t actually written a SINGLE word yet! I am worried what is to come.

Stick to Twitter

Dream-Me

I woke up offended.

My Dream-Me was telling my real me to “stick to Twitter”. Ouch. I am all for straight communication, but that is HARSH feedback to someone who hasn’t even started writing yet! Clearly Dream-Me is not wasting any time! She isn’t wrong though: I have said for years that I like Twitter — the limitation of characters is a challenge and a blessing — better be succinct and not waffle. I have seen the same tendencies in myself when it comes to writing: I struggle with filling in long blank spaces in applications for funding or similar (maybe that’s why I never applied for anything apart from an epic double failure in a Horizon2020 application a couple of years back where the second attempt was actually scored WORSE than the FIRST one. I gave up after that.).

Realise when you are not the best person for the job

One of my strengths as a leader is to put the right person in the right place. I match make well between people and roles, and sometimes I see futures for people that they may have not realised themselves. This strength is useful here….I have absolutely no plans to become a writer. Just because I have STORIES to tell doesn’t make me a writer…those are different things. People who believe that authors should only write their own stories or you aren’t a real author if you don’t do the actual writing yourself haven’t thought long enough about it, imho.

After all, Authors have editors, illustrators, designers….and they use computers 😉

I will have a writing partner

She will take the jumbled words, the blurry memories, the ugly and unsaid, the beauty and the magic…and she will use her skill and talent to turn my secrets and my scars into something that we can all learn from. I will have to trust her; I know it will require me to be brave. I will tell her things I have never told anyone, and I am already scared.

Maybe that is why my Dream-Me is saying stick to Twitter. She is not wrong.

Will you read my books?

Netiquette

Participate. In the online environment, it’s not enough just to turn up. If you don’t join in no one will know that you are there!

Share questions and tips. Questions you post to the discussion forums will help others, and taking part in discussions will help you to learn. It is often the case that where a participant encounters a problem, it is the experience of the other participants that is most valuable in developing a solution.

Think before you click. Before you post your comments, check through what you have written. It’s always helpful to check if you have written what you meant to write and to think about how the people reading your words will react.

Remember that we can’t see the grin on your face. Help us ‘see’ you by explaining your ideas fully. You could also use an emoticon, such as 😉 to let the reader know that your comment is meant to be ironic or funny.

Remember there is a person who will be reading your message. Because visual clues are often lacking in online communication, electronic messages can easily seem harsher than they are intended to be. If you disagree with what someone has said, please bear this in mind as you express that disagreement.

Keep your messages short and to the point. When composing your  messages, aim to express your thoughts concisely. Obviously you will want to explain your point, but if you write a very long message it has the same effect as someone ‘holding forth’ or ‘rambling’ in a face-to-face discussion. Lengthy postings do not hold people’s attention and are less likely to get a response.

Use paragraphs to break up your text. Even relatively short messages can be difficult to read online unless they are broken up.

Any derogatory or inappropriate comments are unacceptable. 

Content from GS10k with thanks

GUEST BLOG: Ali Arif

When Angela had messaged me asking if I could write an article for her blog, I took the opportunity and was immensely excited.  The experience of her teaching is something I can write about for hours and hours.

Angela came to my school to teach us about the art of body language:

How it can promote leadership, learning, development, entrepreneurship and growth. From the first time I spoke to her, I knew that me and her would get along because she did the best thing possible, which was offering me crisps. Continue reading…