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small gray square The sickness has me in its grip. Granted it's not serious, but ever-present - I left work early and came home to sleep. Later, D & G called me up and G said he'd had it for two weeks, but he's finally cured. So far I've only endured half that time.

small blue square Here's something from the "Americans' Communicative Style" chapter in American Ways by Gary Althen:

The typical conversation between Americans takes a form that can be called repartee. Nobody speaks for very long. Speakers take turns frequently, often after only a few sentences have been spoken.

Americans tend to be impatient with people who take long turns. Such people are said to "talk too much." Many Americans have difficulty paying attention to someone who speaks more than a few sentences at a time, as Nigerians, Arabs, and some others do. Americans value conciseness, or what they call "getting to the point."

Americans engage in little ritual interaction. Only a few ritual interchanges are common: "How are you?" "I'm fine, thank you," "Nice to meet you," and "Hope to see you again." These things are said under certain circumstances Americans learn to recognize, and, like any ritual interchanges, are concerned more with form than with substance. That is, the questions are supposed to be asked and the statements are supposed to be made in particular circumstances, no matter what the people involved are feeling or what they really have in mind. In many Americans' opinions, people who rely heavily on ritual interchanges are "too shy" or "too polite," unwilling to reveal their true nature or ideas.

Americans are generally impatient with long ritual interchanges about family members' health - common among Latin Americans - or invocations of a supreme being's goodwill - common among Arabs - considering them a waste of time.

I love these stereotypes, don't you? For another assessment of out national characteristics check this previous entry. The book's been in print for a decade and I think I read a previous edition in the "BookStar" around the corner from my apartment when I lived in Santa Monica. (That one's gone now but my last trip down I noticed that at least one branch of these pre-Borders Barnes & Noble stores is still open in LA.)

LA - Los Angeles
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