Re: Tracy Brown's discomfort

carter pate (CPATE@UTCVM.BITNET)
Tue, 5 Apr 1994 15:14:12 EDT

Dear all:
A few years ago, in a visit to our campus (UT Chattanooga)
Clare Farrer was describing some of her work among the Mescalero Apaches.
She had discovered that many of her informants were especially sensitive to dir
ect interrogations--they regarded them as rudely intrusive. On the other hand,
her experimentation led to the discovery that "I wonder . . ., " I don't quit
e understtand, can you help me . . " were not taken at all as intrusive. I sud
denly realized that, although not an Apache, my feelings are often very similar
. And my own experimentation leads me to feel that a great many people in civi
l conversations detect at least a twinge of intrusion or condescenscion in blun
t interrogatives. When I can remember, I try to avoid them. So I have a certa
in sympathy for Tracy, although she may have misjudged James Carrier's intentio
ns. Are there regional subcultural differences in this, somewhat the old North
//South antipathy? I can't speak for Tracy, but I'm a Southerner. --cpate