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dianthus
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24 Jan 2012, 11:36 pm

Are you confused by the way people phrase their comments?

I keep noticing this is a problem when I am having a conversation with someone. Or, it's even worse when someone just comes up to me and makes a random comment, and I'm not prepared for it and have no context for understanding it. I have to really think about it to figure out what they mean.

Here's an example. I am driving a rental car right now, and today out of nowhere my dad asked me "Do you have a gas guzzler?" I think that is how he phrased it. Or he might have said, "Is it a gas guzzler?" I had NO idea what he meant. My mom had to translate that he was asking, how is the gas mileage on the rental car? We weren't talking about the car so I don't know how I was supposed to know what he meant.

Or in my job, people will ask me for samples (which I sometimes have, and sometimes not) but they don't just ask "Can I have a sample?" Instead they will say something really vague like "Did you bring me anything good?" or "Ain't you got anything for us today?" It takes me several seconds to clue in to what they are asking about.

Anyone else have this kind of trouble? Is this sort of thing, what is meant by having trouble with pragmatics?



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25 Jan 2012, 3:01 am

These are metaphors. It took me a long time to figure them out. I still have trouble. It seemed to me like they were either stupid or trying to confuse me on purpose.

I find I am usually the one who confuses other people now. My brain works so fast that I will have part of a conversation with myself and the other person will not know how I came to the conclusion that I had. I wish I could do this with chess. I have to explain my thought process and they usually exclaim, "Did all that go through your head while I was talking?". One girl I used to work beside told me she would watch me sometimes when she knew I was concentrating and she could see me thinking so hard, she began to just wait for my "Aha! moment".

Instructions are difficult for me as they usually use metaphors. One of my jobs is writing reports, instructions and processes, because I can be very technical and can't use metaphors very well. This makes for a great tech writer.


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25 Jan 2012, 3:11 am

I can't think of specific examples right now, but yes - the way people ask things can confuse me.



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25 Jan 2012, 3:24 am

Yes.
Usually I can figure out what people mean when they use expressions like that, but it takes a few seconds.


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25 Jan 2012, 6:54 am

No, this is actually one problem I don't normally have. I only have this problem when people talk too fast or too quiet or have too much of a strong accent, but I'm afraid to say ''pardon?'' so I pretend to hear and then give out some sort of irrelevant answer. I should really pluck up my courage to say ''pardon?'' more often.


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dianthus
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25 Jan 2012, 3:57 pm

George Carlin talks about the way people ask what time it is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M5eG-aywZQ

Quote:
They'll say, "Do you know what time it is?" and I'll say, "Yes."



Mdyar
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25 Jan 2012, 4:20 pm

dianthus wrote:
Are you confused by the way people phrase their comments?

I keep noticing this is a problem when I am having a conversation with someone. Or, it's even worse when someone just comes up to me and makes a random comment, and I'm not prepared for it and have no context for understanding it. I have to really think about it to figure out what they mean.

Here's an example. I am driving a rental car right now, and today out of nowhere my dad asked me "Do you have a gas guzzler?" I think that is how he phrased it. Or he might have said, "Is it a gas guzzler?" I had NO idea what he meant. My mom had to translate that he was asking, how is the gas mileage on the rental car? We weren't talking about the car so I don't know how I was supposed to know what he meant.

Or in my job, people will ask me for samples (which I sometimes have, and sometimes not) but they don't just ask "Can I have a sample?" Instead they will say something really vague like "Did you bring me anything good?" or "Ain't you got anything for us today?" It takes me several seconds to clue in to what they are asking about.

Anyone else have this kind of trouble? Is this sort of thing, what is meant by having trouble with pragmatics?


I can have trouble here and there with these. It is spotty and it depends how my social imagination is running at the time. I can miss it. Funny things is I've asked this very question out of the blue and gotten a confused response. :lol:

Quote:
Or in my job, people will ask me for samples (which I sometimes have, and sometimes not) but they don't just ask "Can I have a sample?" Instead they will say something really vague like "Did you bring me anything good?" or "Ain't you got anything for us today?" It takes me several seconds to clue in to what they are asking about


This is something emotive that people carry with them in the course of the day. It is all drama based rather than data based. I've learned to cue in on this and get it. It usually takes an outside source for me to see or understand the dynamic as to learn it-- I just don't 'feel into it naturally.' In otherwords I watch the conversations on the sideline, and see the angle and apply it later. Otherwise, likely it would slip by. It just takes practice, and the intuition is developed intellectually for me.



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25 Jan 2012, 5:45 pm

Yes I think pragmalinguistics comes into this.

On the one hand there's metaphors, but in addition there are what in speech act theory is called an indirect speech act.

This where on the surface an utterance looks like a comment but is actually an invitation or direction (the strength varies) to do something.

Example: at home or in the office the other person says to you, "it's a bit draughty". If there is a window open this almost certainly means the other person would like you to shut the window.


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25 Jan 2012, 5:46 pm

Yeah sometimes things like that can confuse me.


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dianthus
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25 Jan 2012, 6:20 pm

Mdyar wrote:
Funny things is I've asked this very question out of the blue and gotten a confused response. :lol:


The gas guzzler question? haha

Well the thing is, we weren't even talking about the car at all. And we weren't standing near it looking at it either. The question just came out of nowhere.

Sometimes I get thrown off track because people comment on something nearby, and I guess they assume I was looking at it too, and most times I didn't even notice it at all, or I was staring at whatever it is and thinking about something completely different.

I did prepare myself for people (outside of family) asking me about why I'm driving the rental car, and I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out they would ask, because in the past I wouldn't have expected that at all. But I know now from experience, that other people certainly do take note of what kind of car I am driving, how old it is, etc. and they extrapolate all kinds of nonsense information from the type of car a person is driving, like how much money they think I make, and whether or not I might have kids, etc. I still can't believe that people even care about this stuff, but whatever, they do.

So this guy asked me about it yesterday, and I forget how he phrased it but it was something weird and vague about me having something new. It was only because I had prepared myself ahead of time, that I had any idea what he was talking about.



Mdyar
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25 Jan 2012, 7:05 pm

dianthus wrote:
Mdyar wrote:
Funny things is I've asked this very question out of the blue and gotten a confused response. :lol:


The gas guzzler question? haha

Well the thing is, we weren't even talking about the car at all. And we weren't standing near it looking at it either. The question just came out of nowhere.


Yeah, I know. That's the art of small talk. It takes much time to be around this to absorb it. Like I mentioned above, people are on a drama course, generally, and it is all emotion centered. I'm not devoid of it, but I'm nearly always thinking about the meaning of things on an absract level, and can miss the surface impressions. The fun for me is figuring out the innards of this great machine--our experience-- by thinking, not by the immediate -fun -feel of the emotion from this.