Conversational Rules and Etiquette (70)

Dave Shepherd, Howard Shepherd, and Howard Chang discuss the rules, etiquette, and media of everyday conversations.

Various ways the Word Nerds audience can converse with us, and with each other (1:59)

Face-to-face conversation (4:59)

Music bumper from by “Conversations” by Saurab Bhargava (14:43)

Conversing on the telephone (15:21)

Song: “Cool Conversation,” by Dminor (20:51)

Rude word of the week: “loudmouth” (25:13)

Music bumper from “Done Talking,” by George Hrab (26:56)

Email, IM, and Internet conversation (27:14)

Music courtesy of The Podsafe Music Network

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 38:30
size: 26.5 Mb

rating: PG-13 (We discuss the conversational conventions of sexual intimacy.)

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8 thoughts on “Conversational Rules and Etiquette (70)

  1. Just a quick comment on the Adventures of Using a Public Bathroom in the World of Cellphones: I work for Partners Healthcare up in Boston. I find it amazing how often people will carry on cellphone conversations not just at the urinal but in the stall as well. The first time I walked into the bathroom to find a guy in the stall having a conversation, I was so shocked that I didn’t even think of a cellphone. I heard a guy talking, saw that no other stalls were occupied and couldn’t leave the bathroom fast enough. It wasn’t until the second or third time that I walked in on this situation that I figured it out. It’s sad that people are so strapped for time that they can’t even break a conversation to go to the bathroom.

    Keep up the good work, I thoroughly enjoy the show.


  2. Hi nerds,
    I am very proud to say that I do not use Myspace. I’ve heard horror stories about reverberations from it–real scary stuff–so I am not going there.
    I do read Xangas, however…hehehe
    Happy words, ya’ll.

  3. Oh, and I’ve come into the bathroom with people talking on their phones because there’s no other private place, especially in a dormitory.

  4. A comment about Myspace… I just wanted to defend those who are users, including myself. Originally, I believe, Myspace was meant to be used in the same way that Friendster used to be, simply as a tool for connecting people with similar interests. I have been a user for about three years and it wasn’t until about a year ago that my little sisters found out about it and began to abuse it in ways mentioned in the podcast. I, myslef, find it to be a extremely easy way to stay in touch with many old friends who have moved or are too busy for a phone call. A comment here and there keeps our friendships vitalized and I do not think it would be possible without Myspace. In keeping with the stream of thought that the podcast brought up, I think it is useful to mention that I often am using Myspace now more than email to communicate. While I agree that it is a trend among certain groups, the benefits of Myspace’s communication channel cannot be overlooked. As for the language aspect, I find myself slipping into interspeak sometimes in real life. It is an interesting turn that our culture is taking, and one that will have many reprecussions in our conversations from here on out. Thanks to the Nerds for being savvy enough to bring it up and discuss it.

  5. A set of very basic set of conversational rules is known as the Gricean maxims. It’s very interesting because most people aren’t even aware of respecting these rules but if someone doesn’t respect these four rules or even asumes others not to respect them, you can surely tell by the fact that the people he is speaking with are going nuts within a minute or two. Examples:

    Alice: “Could you close the door?”
    Bob: “Yeah, I could.” (Bob just alleged that Alice disrespected the maxim of relevance.)

    Bob: “Susan has two sons and a daughter.”
    Alice: “So she hopes her next child is going to be a daughter to balance things out?”
    Bob: “Why should she? She has a total of two sons and three daughters.”
    Alice: “But you just told me…”
    Bob: “I just told you she had two sons and a daughter which is true. I never claimed that to be the total number of her children.” (Maxims of relevance and clarity, this time violated by Bob himself.)

    I don’t know about you, but I know several of those people and they even claim to stand on a better ground with their statements as being completely logical and stuff. They just aren’t respecting the rules that are implicit in every conversation. Of course there are others who violate the maxim of relevance just like that, talking the hind legs off a donkey.

    On the other hand many of the more subtle figures of speech like irony or paradoxa rely on seemingly violating at least one of the maxims.

    Second thing I wanted to mention: I’m wondering why myspace seems to be an almost US-only phenomenon. I mean blogs and podcasts and flickr and all this other social networking/web 2.0/whatever stuff is almost as common in Europe as in it is in the US (at least I guess so). So why not myspace? I don’t know a single person who has a myspace account! (Or they hide this fact well from me.) And as a student of computer science I think I know a lot of… say technically affine people (a.k.a. nerds) who should be the first ones to jump onto such a bandwagon. No theories here from me, just the question :/

  6. Here’s one for the unix nerds. My ex-husband frequently used ctrl-U during conversation. He’d be expressing a thought and if he wanted to roll back or change his thought, he’d say ‘Control U’. That’s the common unix keyboard command to erase a line of text.

  7. Hey Nerds!!

    You guys have just got a new fan!! And may I add, a brazilian fan. Listenning to your podcasts make me practice and improve my English, as well as learning new stuff.
    Keepo up the good work Nerds!!!

    André Aprigio
    Trainee – Oi Telecom / Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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