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  • - Oh, I'm sorry, I almost didn't see you there.

  • How are you?

  • (upbeat rock music)

  • Hello, I'm Julian Northbrook, the Language Punk.

  • One of the most interesting books I have ever read is

  • this one, Don't Sleep, There are Snakes by Daniel Everett.

  • In a nutshell, Everett was a Christian missionary.

  • He went to live in the jungle with a tribe

  • of Amazonian Indians called the Piraha.

  • He went there to spread the word of God,

  • however his experience living with the Piraha

  • was so profound that he ended up giving up Christianity

  • and becoming a linguist instead.

  • He then went on to do some very important work

  • in the field of linguistics, some of which

  • challenged the ideas of universal grammar.

  • See this video for an explanation of that.

  • One of the things that Everett talks about in the book

  • is phatic communication, or rather,

  • the lack of phatic communication in the Piraha's language.

  • Phatic communication is extremely important in English

  • as it is in most languages.

  • Put simply, phatic communication is the language that we use

  • not to convey or ask for information,

  • but rather to connect with someone, to set a mood,

  • to show goodwill, to show respect for someone.

  • For example, when we say something like good morning,

  • we are not commenting on the fact that it is a good morning.

  • No, we are acknowledging the existence

  • of the person we are speaking to.

  • We are connecting with that person, starting a new day's

  • relationship with that person, as it were.

  • In the same way, when we say something like,

  • how are you, how's it going?

  • We are not asking after the person's health,

  • or at least not most of the time, anyway.

  • Rather, this has much the same function as good morning.

  • We are simply connecting with that person.

  • Other examples of phatic communication are things

  • like cheers, you're welcome, thank you, I'm sorry.

  • All of these things are completely missing

  • form the Piraha's language.

  • They simply don't do it.

  • It's not a part of their culture to express these things.

  • They don't have words for good morning, I'm sorry,

  • how are you because it's simply not a part of their culture.

  • It's simply not something which they do.

  • The Piraha language is an extreme case

  • and a very rare one.

  • Phatic communication is extremely important

  • for most languages and cultures, English included.

  • But the point is, when you are making small talk,

  • and phatic communication is a kind of small talk,

  • you have to consider whether the thing you are trying

  • to say actually translates into that other language or not.

  • Just like what I talked about yesterday.

  • Someone from say, Japan asking someone from,

  • for example, the United Kingdom, what's your blood type?

  • It's an odd, surprising thing for westerners,

  • because it's not something which we have in our culture.

  • In the same way, saying I'm sorry to someone

  • whose culture does not have I'm sorry

  • doesn't really make much sense.

  • Again, this is an extreme example,

  • but the point is, if you are struggling with small talk

  • in English ask yourself, are you stubbornly trying

  • to communicate things that exist in your culture,

  • but not in the culture of the people you are talking to?

  • We're going to continue this conversion tomorrow

  • because I've got some great examples

  • and stories to share with you, but before then remember,

  • on the 27th of this month, that is January 2018 I will

  • be doing the Small Talk Superhero seminar here in Tokyo.

  • For information and the place to book your ticket,

  • click on the link in the description.

  • You'll also find a link to Daniel Everett's book,

  • Don't Sleep, There are Snakes as well as several links

  • to EES Lessons that deal with phatic communication

  • and using it smoothly

  • and effectively yourself in conversation.

  • And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

  • is it for me, Julian Northbrook,

  • (upbeat rock music) the Language Punk for today.

  • But before I go, over to you.

  • Have you ever struggled with phatic communication?

  • Tell us all about it in the comments.

  • What happened, why did you struggle?

  • Tell us the story.

  • Tell us the story.

- Oh, I'm sorry, I almost didn't see you there.

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A2 BEG UK communication small talk everett language culture good morning

Watch This If You Struggle with Small-Talk in English

  • 100 1
    luluuk posted on 2018/01/11
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