Saturday, 10 May 2014

Quiz about conversation

Discovering, perhaps here and now, that ‘Meretricious’ means ‘Tarty’, do you make a point from now on of saying ‘Meretricious’ when you mean ‘Tarty’? Or do you rather think ‘Well that’s a relief’ and forget ‘Meretricious’ and just say ‘Tarty’?

Do you talk to people about the things you believe interest them? Or do you, rather, talk to them about the things that interest you? And if in fact to the latter, do you nevertheless believe you belong to the former class? Do you, perhaps, think that if something interests you, then it jolly well ought to interest others?

If you discover something the news of which is likely to distress someone, do you rush to tell them about it? And is that with a) sorrow, or b) glee? (The latter is known as ‘Schadenfreude’. (This is (of course) a German word.))

Do you like to tell people, with details of each dish and its price and how good it was, all about a restaurant meal you have eaten?

When having a conversation with someone in the street, do you keep looking over their shoulders, hoping to catch sight of someone more amusing? Are you, in fact, paying no attention to what they’re saying, but merely waiting for a gap so that you can say what you want to say?

Further to the last paragraph, when you’re talking to someone, and you finish what you wanted to say, do you at once say ‘And…’ (or ‘Und…’ or ‘Και…’) so as to give yourself a moment in which to hastily think of something else to say, thus forestalling the disaster of the other person’s starting to talk?

In short, do you regard conversation as an exchange of news and views, or as an opportunity to massage your ego?

Answers by e-mail please. Be honest.

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