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Thread: A dislike of precision.. Language as it effects thought.

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    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    A dislike of precision.. Language as it effects thought.

    Its fairly well agreed that language shapes thinking (thought patterns) and vice versa..

    Some languages lend themselves to detail, others emotion, etc etc..

    I have recently had another set of experiences where the that inability or desire to not be precise, has cause huge problems for Thais themselves.

    The house I am in is (another time) having structural problems.. It had to have much needed work done and that was conflict between my landlord and the builder, lawyers involved etc.. The landlord expected me to be their free foreman and pay rent while this happened (clearly not happening !!) and the timescale and interference in life put me into some conflict with my landlord also.

    The landlord (thai) even flew from Europe to do inspections (total waste of time and money) etc before the work started.. Over and over I was asking for clarity on precisely what was the building plan, the schedule, the way to fix it.. This just got a frustrated "Oh they will fix EVERYTHING' when its painfully obvious theres fix and theres 'hide' with 2 different costs associated. I was seen as being the pain in the arse for demanding details.. So I left them to it.

    Predictably the builder plastered over the cracks and repainted and has barely addressed the underlying cause.. This now means no ones happy, the lawyer is preparing a court process etc etc..

    But what struck me is in every one of these exchanges, the builder, the landlord, the lawyer.. None of them can ask a direct question, or demand clarity when given an indirect vague answer. When I would insert myself into the process, eg asking the builder how they precisely intended to 'fix' such and such problem you could literally see the body language tense up, the grimace smile get plastered on, and sometimes they even just turned and walked away, so as not to answer a question, in the middle of a discussion.

    This isnt a case of rip off the farang.. I am not paying a baht, and the landlord and builder are the ones suffering.. But none, even a smart articulate fluent english speaing lawyer, seemed able to demand a detail and have it answered.. Even if demanded a vague non answer got nods smiles and a sort of relief that the nasty confrontational question was over. You could read it in the body language that precision and precise declarative statements caused intense stress.

    Of course all this indirect dancing around the issue, meant theres so much wiggle room and missed expectations..

    I used to put this down to either 'thai lies' in purposefully ripping off the farang, or my lack of Thai language ability.. But now having seen this in a Thai on Thai setup its obvious they simply hate to operate with a buck stops here this and that detailed way of doing things. Without that detail so many aspects cant truly work.

    That language pattern and mindset is and will really hold the country back as modernity marches on.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Of course this is exactly mirrored in thais asking directions or even asking advice on how to perform a task.

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    Moral of story ... never rent a house to Sefton!

    As for the indirect fuzzy curly manner which all level Thai society work - none of this (any longer) comes as any surprise at all - got to hand it to the Thai's they have managed to go a long way (~700 years) without being nailed down. If all this frustrates the hell out of you (I mean farang in general) then its a fact of life that just has to be comes with the upside of sometimes that same fuzziness working in our favour.
    Its My Life .....!

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    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    But the fact is it hurts them so much.. Now because neither side could accurately pin down the expectations of the aother.. and both sides wanted under / over deliver.. We have conflict and legal battles.. None of it had to happen. All tha was needed was a clearly defined plan agreed before the work done, then secondarily she employed a foreman who was a total pushover, demanded nothing was done to his clients benefit, didnt hold up his end of the job and is now unhappy he got fired and I dont know if fully paid.. But he didnt do the job !!

    All because they simply hate to make declarative statements.. Or force confrontation to make something happen.. Everything is couched in vagueness, timetables, schedules, plans, actions.. Once you start asking for clarity, nicely, politely, with a smile, you can see tham actually cringe and clamp up.. No one wants to say "we will do this.. On this day.." Etc... Without such kinds of firm declarative statements nothing works smoothly.

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    Senior Member WarProfiteer's Avatar
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    In my neck of the woods we hear "Inshallah", which is code for "I have an excuse for anything that was imprecise, unclear, not done to spec, not on time or just flat out wrong... because it's was god's plan that it be that way".

    Same premise, only attributed to religion and not culture.

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LivinLOS View Post
    All because they simply hate to make declarative statements.. Or force confrontation to make something happen.. Everything is couched in vagueness, timetables, schedules, plans, actions.. Once you start asking for clarity, nicely, politely, with a smile, you can see tham actually cringe and clamp up.. No one wants to say "we will do this.. On this day.." Etc... Without such kinds of firm declarative statements nothing works smoothly.
    funny enough i could imply most of that to the Canadian workplace!!
    my biggest issue working here
    they are so adverse to any type of conflict, even healthy dialouge, that everything is swept under the rug
    people talk behind each other's back here in Canada worse than i have ever seen because, god forbid, they ever confront an issue

    i have a kid who works for me. great kid, if i ask him to do a project it will be done and done well. but 75% of our work needs to be done in a timely manner, as you know. But he is addicted to his mobile and texting. I've confronted him, our higher boss of course danced around it but nothing got fixed. There is tons of proof of this effecting his job and i finally laid it down to my boss that it is either the phone or the job for him. But in our office i come off as the unreasonable one, not the guy that is clearly not doing his job

    we have 2 trading systems and have been working for 2 years to get it all into one. my boss couldn't get it done and i finally was able to get it done. but him being the "polite" Canadian he wants to string along the one we will be leaving instead of telling them straight out. I had to put out how scummy he was actually being in having them do all this work knowing they'd be cut in 6 months

    i could go on and on

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    Senior Member Waharoa's Avatar
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    Could you rank countries in order of... order? As that is what it is... the most organised societies seem to have everything in order... due to the precision of it's people?

    The Germans and Swiss... look how ordered their countries appear on the surface. Then compare to disorganised countries... a reflection of the people.. or something deeper?

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    Senior Member faultytowers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarProfiteer View Post
    In my neck of the woods we hear "Inshallah", which is code for "I have an excuse for anything that was imprecise, unclear, not done to spec, not on time or just flat out wrong... because it's was god's plan that it be that way".
    Favourite get out clause in the Middle East was .......... I.B.M !

    Inshallah Bukra Malish

    God willing , tomorrow ......... maybe/possibly/maybe not !

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Could you rank countries in order of... order? As that is what it is... the most organised societies seem to have everything in order... due to the precision of it's people?

    The Germans and Swiss... look how ordered their countries appear on the surface. Then compare to disorganised countries... a reflection of the people.. or something deeper?
    but i'd say Canada is organised but can be so inefficient with their adversity to any sort of healthy conflict/dialouge

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    Senior Member Waharoa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post
    but i'd say Canada is organised but can be so inefficient with their adversity to any sort of healthy conflict/dialouge
    Which is what I am getting at. Are national football teams a reflection of their order/lack of order/free spirit/randomness etc. The order and efficiency of the German national team versus the beautiful flamboyance of the Brazilians versus the stubborness of the English versus the elegance of the Dutch versus the aggressive spontaneity of the Argentinians versus the lacking in confidence but brilliant Spanish and the artistic efficiency of the Italians...

    Maybe we talk about sports, town planning, architecture or precision engineering in cars or watches... but in the end... somehow different nations win the world cup... and different societies survive... it's just what suits you, where you choose to be a part of?

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Which is what I am getting at. Are national football teams a reflection of their order/lack of order/free spirit/randomness etc. The order and efficiency of the German national team versus the beautiful flamboyance of the Brazilians versus the stubborness of the English versus the elegance of the Dutch versus the aggressive spontaneity of the Argentinians versus the lacking in confidence but brilliant Spanish and the artistic efficiency of the Italians...

    Maybe we talk about sports, town planning, architecture or precision engineering in cars or watches... but in the end... somehow different nations win the world cup... and different societies survive... it's just what suits you, where you choose to be a part of?
    oh, i think teams take on where they play
    Boston teams are all tough,gritty
    finesse guys just don't fit with Boston fans, so they won't last there and that shapes the way the teams are

    Vancouver is a pussy town and i think their team is a pussy team

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    Senior Member Waharoa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc26 View Post

    Vancouver is a pussy town and i think their team is a pussy team
    Funny though isn't it... because with local sides... I guess most of the players are not born and bred Vancouverites? Yet end up taking on that pussy personality...

    Do trading rooms take on the local vibe? Are you becoming pussified Paul... 555

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    Senior Member marc26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Funny though isn't it... because with local sides... I guess most of the players are not born and bred Vancouverites? Yet end up taking on that pussy personality...

    Do trading rooms take on the local vibe? Are you becoming pussified Paul... 555
    ha
    the Canadian workplace is sneaky as fcuk, but no, i have not taken that on
    i tell them exactly how i feel, only way to do it IMO

  14. #14
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Could you rank countries in order of... order? As that is what it is... the most organised societies seem to have everything in order... due to the precision of it's people?

    The Germans and Swiss... look how ordered their countries appear on the surface. Then compare to disorganised countries... a reflection of the people.. or something deeper?
    But it is a function of language to shape thought patterns..

    And yes, the germanic, austrian / swiss, etc language seems to create statements that define things. and boy to Germans expect those clear defined terms to be upheld. I have never been as verbally ciut to pieces as when something went mildly late or wrong on a german contract deal.

    Its really quite strange how Germany can produce some of the best most functional engineering (BMW, Porsche) which works at a high performance for a long time.. Yet some would say lacks passion.. Italy, a more romance language has less precision and more flair.. And makes the emotive supercars like Farrari and Lambo, which can be plagued with small faults.. They also make fiat !!
    Last edited by LivinLOS; 22nd November 2013 at 08:38.

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    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ub2yoo View Post
    re order appearing on the surface ... I always have to laugh when I visit my sister in Bavaria and see how neat and ordered everyone has their stuff together in and around the house ...
    To be honest.. I love that..

    Its like the whole country has OCD.
    soupdragon likes this.

  16. #16
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Maybe we talk about sports, town planning, architecture or precision engineering in cars or watches... but in the end... somehow different nations win the world cup... and different societies survive... it's just what suits you, where you choose to be a part of?
    But it really does seem to run deep within each national psyche.. In its products and output, its lifestyle and leisure, etc etc..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Waharoa View Post
    Could you rank countries in order of... order? As that is what it is... the most organised societies seem to have everything in order... due to the precision of it's people?

    The Germans and Swiss... look how ordered their countries appear on the surface. Then compare to disorganised countries... a reflection of the people.. or something deeper?
    Can you graph that against S.o.H. ?
    Inverse proportions?
    Sipping from the Fountain of Youth that is Thailand.

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    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evilbaz View Post
    Can you graph that against S.o.H. ?
    Inverse proportions?
    Is that really true tho ?? Or is it something the english speaking world like to play on ??

    I never found the Germans to not be humorous.. Serious yes but so are the Finns and maybe less so noggies swedes etc..

    My lack of fluency in German and dutch meant I dont really know.. But as people we used to have a laugh together in similar ways.

    My Dutch buddy used to often say that English was the best language he knew (and he spoken many) for giving what we call a backhanded compliment, an insult wrapped in a compliment.. your not as dumb as you look.. etc.. He used to love these and they were flung around our office a lot (the secretary once cried because we were taking the piss out of each other, not her, but each other !!).. He also brought this concept of how language molds thought which molds actions and identity even though it was much more uniform over the latin derived European languages.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LivinLOS View Post
    But it really does seem to run deep within each national psyche.. In its products and output, its lifestyle and leisure, etc etc..
    But why are so many people in these "precise" countries so imprecise with their spelling?

    The local example that really annoys me is how so many Europeans use "bath" instead of Baht.
    Is there any logical reason for this?
    Sipping from the Fountain of Youth that is Thailand.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator LivinLOS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evilbaz View Post
    The local example that really annoys me is how so many Europeans use "bath" instead of Baht.
    Is there any logical reason for this?
    I rarely see farangs doing it but oddly under the transliteration rules I think its not so cut and dried as technically its bàat.. We add the H to indicate the extension on the vowel but บาท has neither pre or post H sound in there..

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