Sunday, December 07, 2008
In Defense of Teasing - NYTimes.com: "Very often, though, we do not want our words to be taken too literally. When we speak in ways that risk offense, for example when we criticize a friend, we may add intentional vagueness or unnecessary circumlocutions. Say a friend proves to be too confrontational at a dinner party. To encourage greater civility, we might resort to indirect hints (“Say, did you read the latest by the Dalai Lama?”) or metaphor (“I guess sometimes you just need to blow off some steam”). These linguistic acts establish a new channel of communication — off-record communication — signaling that what is being said has an alternate meaning."