Lost in Translation
I think that I’m the last person to submit an article to discuss.
Well, I have found this text in the Sunday Times and I think that it is an interesting and amusing document.
I hope you enjoy it.
Lost in translation
Men and women speak different languages, and now, with text, e-mail and twitter, our wires get utterly crossed
Jean Hannah Edelstein
Men and women have been communicating with each other for thousands of years. But unlike other things that we get good at with practice, we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding each other.
Sometimes it feels that even though we speak the same language, we use incompatible dialects: men speak Himglish, while women speak Femalese. And now, thanks to all of the technology at our disposal, we have more ways than ever to correspond — which means that we also have an unprecented number of opportunities to get our wires (or our Wi-Fi) crossed. Might we hope to learn to use technology to improve our love lives? Or does love blossom best when we cast off the digital shackles?
Femalese speakers love e-mail because it facilitates the consultation process that we have long employed when it comes to communicating with men whom we fancy. Femalese communications are infused with nuance and innuendo so complex that it often feels necessary to get second and third opinions, cc’ing it to a trusted team of editors before it is released. Recently, while composing an e-mail to a man who had wronged her, a friend of mine sent me six different drafts. The sticking point — whether she was being too friendly in terms of the mild ticking-off she was giving him — provided several hours of distraction from an otherwise dull workday, but the outcome — no response from the chap the message was for — felt like a profound disappointment.
Broadly, speakers of Himglish tend to take things at face value: a goal-oriented, pared-down approach to communication that is reflected in their sometimes superficial interpretations of Femalese missives. If you spend hours composing three- or four-line e-mails to a man (we’ve all done it, so don’t be ashamed), it might be wise to consider: is he really going to understand why you used the passive voice in the sixth sentence, or signed with two kisses instead of three? Or would a more direct technique — terrifying as it is, a phone call is a proven one — be more effective in getting what you want?
Text messages: handy for conveying small bits of information and a bit of light flirtation, useless for carrying on a substantive conversation, and rubbish for expressing anything subtle. Yet again, Femalese speakers often run up against the problem of putting in a lot of effort only to find that the Himglish-speaking recipient has missed the point. And then we search the messages that we get back for secrets: I once spent about 15 minutes discussing with three friends the meaning of a text that I got from a potential suitor because he had written “Oh-K x” in response to a question as opposed to “OK” or “okay”. Was he trying to be funny? Did it indicate some kind of disenchantment? Was the kiss intended to soften the blow of the sarcasm?
While we might think that “What are you doing on Saturday?” is a perfectly clear prompt, it’s still easily misunderstood, which can result in us being left in paroxysms of self-doubt. And it’s not all about the content. Many men are astounded to learn that women have convinced ourselves that a certain amount of time needs to elapse before we respond. That’s fine, except that everyone knows that you have your phone with you at all times, and thus a delayed response to someone you really like may seem rude or lazy rather than aloof and alluring. If you want to be aloof and alluring, why not write a letter? The fumbling involvement of Royal Mail will guarantee a mysterious delay.
I went on a blind date once. No, really. I didn’t know what the guy looked like, where he went on his summer holiday in 2003, the colour of his ex-girlfriend’s hair or the title of his favourite film. It was terrifying, in a delightful, old-fashioned, 2006 kind of way. By contrast, the last man I dated had versed himself so well in the details of my life before we even met that it was nearly impossible for us to have a conversation. “One time I went on holiday…” I’d begin. “To Africa? Yes, I know,” he’d say. “My brother and I don’t look very much alike,” I’d say. “Yes, he looks like Pete Sampras,” he’d reply. We are no longer seeing each other.
In one respect, Facebook has been great for romance: we no longer have to go through the pain of asking someone cute for his or her phone number. Provided you catch a name, it’s quite easy to find nearly everyone (Facebook refuseniks excepted) on the network the next morning. That’s lovely. What is not lovely is that once you become “friends” with your prospect, you can develop a complex and colourful idea of what that person is like before you even go for coffee. It will be an idea that is often totally inaccurate, leading to confusion and, sometimes, profound disappointment. And while Facebook can be a burden at the beginning of a relationship, it can actually turn into a kind of torture at the end. The only thing worse than analysing someone’s profile for hidden messages when you are first getting to know them is weeping over evidence that they’ve moved on before you have. It’s a bold suggestion, but I recommend that you keep Facebook merely as a useful site for professional networking and remembering why you didn’t like the people you lost touch with after school.
From my point of view, I do agree with the sentence: “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”. And now, some questions for you:
1) Do you think that men and women speak different languages?
2) Is it so difficult to live together?
3) Have you ever had an relationship through Internet?
4) Are women really so complicated and men so simple?