G is for Gossip

6 05 2012

The other week I posted the following ‘status update’ on Facebook:

“The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.” (Dunbar, R. 1996. Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, p. 77).

With 141 FB friends, I am dangerously near the 150 point. Time for some discreet culling?😉

The comment was tongue in cheek, obviously, but there was a semi-serious point to it. I’m not the first – by a long chalk – to want to broadcast the fact that it’s simply not possible to have thousands of ‘friends’, unless friendship is redefined in such a way as to leach it of all meaning entirely. When I finally took the FB plunge I vowed to friend only those people whom I’d actually met and whose names I could remember – already stretching the meaning of friend to breaking point – and, by and large, I’ve kept to that pledge.

It’s terrible!

But more about that later. Professor Dunbar, whose calculation of 150 manageable ‘friends’ is a key element in his compelling argument as to how language originated (Dunbar, 1996), was in the news again recently. Using a massive dataset of nearly two million mobile phone calls and 500 million text messages, collected over a 7-month period, Dunbar and his colleagues tracked the way that relationship patterns vary over time and according to gender. Among their findings were “a marked sex difference in investment in relationships during the period of pairbond formation, suggesting that women invest much more heavily in pairbonds than do men”. Not only that, the results of the study “tend to support the claim that mother-daughter relationships play a particularly seminal role in structuring human social relationships”. All this based on who people talk to (or text), how often, and over how long a period of time.

The way that language both shapes and is shaped by social networks has been a recurrent theme in Dunbar’s work. The book on gossip (1996) outlines the thesis that, when our primate forebears descended from the trees onto the African savannah, the ecological need to form larger and larger social groupings required other means, apart from mutual grooming, for bonding and group cohesion. It was simply not possible to groom your whole clan at one sitting. Language, specifically the phatic use of language that we have come to call gossip, provided an alternative to grooming. “Language has two interesting properties compared to grooming: you can talk to several people at once and you can talk while travelling, eating or working in the fields” (Dunbar 1992:30). By sharing information about other clan members, speakers not only cemented group ties but laid down norms of acceptable behaviour. “Language evolved to allow us to gossip” (Dunbar 1996:79).

And, like grooming, the socializing use of language was probably – initially, at least – gender-specific . While males hunted; women gathered – and gossiped.

So, men don’t gossip? It depends what you define as ‘gossip’. Certainly, as Coates (2004: 104) observes,  talking about football seems to fulfil a similar function. She quotes a study that suggests that “if female gossip is a way of talking which solidifies relationships between women, then talking about football would appear to serve a very similar purpose for men”.

In another, much older study of mobile phone use (reported in The Guardian in 2001) researchers found that “some 27% of men, compared with 21% of women, admitted making calls primarily for gossip, which 26% of men referred to as ‘keeping in touch’.  But when some were questioned in focus groups, this often proved to be ‘essentially a euphemism for gossip’” (Ezard 2001).  So, yes, men gossip – but they call it by a less pejorative name.

Which brings me back to Facebook. For all his insight, Dunbar got one thing horribly wrong. He saw no future in digital media in terms of consolidating or extending social networks. “The information super-highway’s only real benefit in the end will be the speed with which ideas are disseminated. … Nor is it likely that electronic mail will significantly enlarge people’s social networks” (1996: 204-205).

Why not? Because, according to Dunbar, 150 friends is the maximum number we can manage.  But, as one of my FB friends asked (in response to my cheeky post): “That was before Facebook. Wonder if he’s adjusted the number since”, while another commented “I don’t think the number above needs to be adjusted; it’s just the word “friend” has had a meaning shift”. Or, as still another said, ‘There are FB friends and then there are people who will lend you money, help you move a piano or go your bail’.

It’s certainly true that it’s not easy – or wise – to gossip on either Facebook or Twitter. Gossip assumes a measure of privacy, and social media are conspicuously public. And gossip assumes shared knowledge, but do all my Facebook friends know one another? I’m absolutely sure that they do not.

So, what’s it all for? Is it the case, that, as one of my ‘friends’ put it: ‘You are confusing genuine friendship & Facebook friendship, which is more about self-promotion & ego-boosting’?  But then, Dunbar (1996: 123) may well have foreseen this. He writes  “One of the most important things gossip allows you to do is to keep track of (and of course influence) other people’s reputations as well as your own.  Gossip… is all about the management of reputation”.

And isn’t that what Facebook is about, too?

References:

Coates, J. (2004)  Women, Men and Language (3rd edition), Harlow, Pearson.

Dunbar, R.  (1992)  ‘Why gossip is good for you’, New Scientist, 21/11/1992.

Dunbar, R. (1996) Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, London: Faber & Faber.

Ezard, J. (2001)  ‘Mobile users “ape monkeys”’, Guardian 6/12/2001.

Palchykov, V., Kaski, K., Kertész, J., Barabási, A-L., and Dunbar, R.I.M. (2012) ‘Sex differences in intimate relationships’, Scientific Reports, 2, at http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120419/srep00370/full/srep00370.html

Illustrations from Swan, M. & Walter, C. (1984) The Cambridge English Course 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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32 responses

6 05 2012
skrashen

Dunbar also cites data showing that only a small percentage of gossip is nasty. This doesn’t include Alice Longworth Roosevelt: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.”

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Which, in turn, evokes the immortal Oscar: ‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’.

6 05 2012
Ken Wilson

So pleased to be described as one of your ‘friends’, Scott! I love the idea of gossip replacing grooming – language evolving basically because we don’t have enough hands, right?

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Right, Ken. I guess a centipede wouldn’t need either language or Facebook because he/she could groom away to his/her heart’s content.😉

6 05 2012
Mike Harrison

Hi Scott,

As ever, an interesting post and really something I am struggling with myself, i.e. how ‘social’ to be on media like Twitter and Facebook. I’ll admit that I do use Twitter especially in silly ways now and then, joining in silly memes to do with changing the titles of films or band names. The same with Facebook, where I’ll share things like silly videos and the like.

I do wonder if this really bothers my contacts so much. Generally I think there is a lot to be said about the level of comfort some people in general have with how familiar to be on social media. I notice among my non-teaching contacts there is often a rather carefree attitude towards using swear words, for example (this is something I try to avoid myself).

I do agree with the person you quoted above, Facebook changed the game. And not just the ephemeral nature there seems to be around online relationships (‘I came to your workshop so I’ll send you a friend request on Facebook’) without the real interaction, but also because people are using Facebook in different ways. Something I wrote 2 years ago touches on this, a friend became a promoter for a band and set up a new Facebook for her ‘real’ friends as opposed to band work. You can read that here are you my friend or something else?.

I also wrote last year about my stance on friending people on Facebook, which I also try to limit to people I’ve met and spoken to face to face, though I have more trouble sticking to it! That is here you can never have too many friends

6 05 2012
Mike Harrison

I meant to put ‘non-teaching contacts on Twitter’ as in people I follow who aren’t in ELT or teaching

6 05 2012
Neil Harris

It will be interesting to see how this post and the number of comments it provokes takes off. If Facebook and Twitter really are the Zeitgeist, then an avalanche of comments might be expected?

In terms of managing our identities (plural deliberate), i wonder if there is any truth in the idea that in general Facebook is increasingly for friends (friends in the traditional sense, people we know, whose names we recall, people who transcend the virtual) wheras Twitter is becoming for everyone else? For example, I follow Stephen Fry on Twitter but would never dream of friending him on Facebook. Likewise I am much less concerned when I get a new follower on Twitter than when a stranger asks to friend me on FB. As a teacher, I guard my FB identity very carefully, not least to avoid my students ever finding me (a strategy which fails if the same students are friends with colleagues whom I class as friends and can therefore find me via their list of friends). This is one way I try manage my reputation; others may do the same by having two FB accounts, one for real friends and one for students).

If this awareness of different media for different audiences is true, how exactly does the language and content used by someone using both sites differ and does this tell us anything new about the evolution of friendship, gossip andour use of social networking? I imagine it becomes more difficult when one becomes “famous”, someone like Scott whose reputation in ELT means many know of him and possibly confuse this with knowing him, while he has no idea who those people are. Personally I’m inclined to think the distinction between Facebook/private v Twitter/public is not as binary as this post suggests.

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Neil, for that interesting comment. In talking about this with colleagues I find quite a wide range of opinion with regard to the different, and perhaps contrasting, uses to which they put social media. Someone the other day said she uses FB only for work-related purposes. I’m the opposite – more or less – hence the need to keep the Facebook ‘gene pool’ relatively small. At the same time, I do use Twitter – not only to advertise blog posts, talks, articles, etc – but also (perhaps irritatingly) to post pictures of what I’ve just eaten. This (rather frivolous) use of social media is consistent with the notion of ‘ambient intimacy‘, perhaps – but it also allows me to reveal aspects of my identity without encroaching on aspects of other people’s identities. I only post pictures of people if they are in work-related contexts, e.g. at conferences with me, and usually only with their prior (informally given) consent.

6 05 2012
Betty C.

As far as real communication, most of what I exchange on Facebook only gets noticed by people I consider to be real friends. But I also see Facebook as a place where I can have occasional exchanges with my life’s collection of friends: high school friends, college friends, former colleagues, and friends from whom I’ve been separated geographically.

I also have some new categories of friends, for example my daughters’ friends or my own friends’ children, that perhaps I would not exactly have considered “friends” before — but they are important to me. By this definition, my “friends” add up to way more than 150 — but I definitely know their names and would recognize them in the street!

This may be a new definition of “friend,” but I find the notion satisfying. I always hated to lose touch with people.

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Betty. You are not alone in finding that having lots of FB friends ‘satisfying’. When I first posted about this on FB, a ‘friend’ (also a friend) sent me a link to an article titled ‘Why it’s good to have 400 fake friends’, in which it is claimed that

….according to a new study, having a higher number of Facebook friends, even well past Dunbar’s number, seems to increase life satisfaction. The researchers surveyed 88 college students about their Facebook habits (number of friends, frequency of wall posts, etc.) and then measured how satisfied they were with their lives. They found that students who had more friends on Facebook were more satisfied.

6 05 2012
Sulabha Sidhaye

I feel ” a facebook friend” means “a contact” whom one may or may not know in personal life, whereas “a friend” is associated with “a person actually known in personal life”. Some ” friends” may also be “facebook friends” . However “friends” will be lesser in number than “facebook friends”. The maximum number, I think, depends on how much of an extrovert one is and also relates to the kind of occupation and hobbies one is involved with.

6 05 2012
eflnotes

it’s interesting to note this tendency of people having Facebook for ‘private’ life and Twitter ‘public’ life. where people need to have met and +spoken+ with a potential FB friend before ‘friending’ them, speaking is the way we best establish the other’s identity. to fulfill what David Bellos calls the ‘ethnicity’ role of langauge. both FB and Twitter’s medium of the written word means that establishing such identities is not as easy, but who knows one day maybe we may talk to someone sitting next to us on the bus because some technology alerts us that the person is a FB friend/Twitter follower/has commented on your blog?🙂

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Nice idea – and, of course, the idea that technology will alert us (e.g. by means of our mobile phones) to the presence of ‘compatible strangers’ and possible future ‘friends’ is not a new one. There is an iPhone app that (I’m told) gay men use to advertise their presence to one another, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the same principle wasn’t already being put to use by other social groups – such as philatelists or coeliacs or Zoroastrians, to name but a few.

7 05 2012
jmackay

You put me in mind of one of my favourite Stephen Fry moments. He demonstrated the app on Top Gear (of all places!).

6 05 2012
Sophia

Hi Scott,
Thanks for another thought-provoking post. We are all splashing around in social media without really knowing what the ‘rules’ are. Facebook and Twitter haven’t yet evolved a clear way to let you take different roles as you would with different people/situations in real life (OK, you can use lists and create multiple profiles, but a) hard work and b) possibly contrary to FB’s terms and conditions). It’s a real issue to decide how much of your genuine self you can and should share on social media, how much you can intermingle personal and professional without one being detrimental to the other, and also of course, to what extent you should be emotionally invested in who follows/friends you or – horror! – doesn’t. We’re on the frontier, so we’ll just have to see what new social etiquette is carved out. But one thing that struck me from your post is that whatever the medium, we are still seeking the same thing, to bond with others and find our place in the group. FB and Twitter are interesting in that they really make visible to ourselves, perhaps for the first time, the efforts we make to present ourselves the way we wish to be seen by others, to ‘manage’ our image. Sometimes I really miss the 80s.
PS – on the issue of ‘gossip’ and gender, I went to a talk once (years ago, sorry for hazy memory) where research was presented on how men and women use gossip and teasing for socially different purposes. Women used gossip to bond, and ‘teasing’ to differentiate (‘unbond’), whereas with men it was the inverse. Food for thought?

7 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Sophia, for the comment. The notion of ‘image management’ is, of course, at the heart of Erving Goffman’s concept of ‘presentation of self’, i.e. the way we select the kind of identity we wish to project to the world, and the way that this is traditionally engineered through face-to-face interaction. Now, the means to present one’s self are considerably more varied and sophisticated, and the kind of social and linguistic changes that they involve may be analogous with the phase shift that occurred when our primate forebears transitioned from grooming to language. Well, it’s a thought.

And, on the subject of not having clear guidance or precedents for these kinds of changes, it’s worth reminding ourselves that every new development in social structures and communication takes a while to organise itself, but that any such restructuring is typically reflected in the way language is used – witness the evolving semantics of the words ‘friend’ or ‘like’. As far back as 1982, John Gumperz noted that “When networks of relationships reflect long term, interpersonal cooperation in the performance of regular tasks and the pursuit of shared goals, they favour the creation of behavioural routines and communicative conventions that become conventionaly associated with and serve to mark component activities” (Discourse Strategies. p. 92)

6 05 2012
youssef Tirizite

Thank you Scott for this inspiring post,
I was especially intrigued by the idea that the word ‘friend’ has acquired another meaning other than the one that’s been conventionally accepted over the years. As an EFL teacher, I have made the habit of looking at the world at large as a source of inspiration for generating ideas for classroom use. And Facebook is no exception. I have made it a classroom routine to invite my students to share their FB status updates with their fellow students at the beginning of every lesson.

6 05 2012
John

Thanks for the post, Scott. Interesting stuff as usual. I’m usually a lurker rather than commenter, but felt compelled to comment as it’s about Dunbar. I personally loved Dunbar’s novel, ‘Grooming, Gossip and the Origins of Language’ and would highly recommend it to anyone.

6 05 2012
Rob

From fractals to friends, another enjoyable and stimulating post from you, Scott. Following are three items that relate to Dunbar’s research and what you and others have written here with regard to relationships and social media:

1. At the beginning of conversation-driven (dogme) classes, if there’s not already someone talking, I’ll ask something like, ‘Does anyone have any questions, comments, jokes… gossip? It usually generates a chuckle, especially if I say ‘chistes o chismes’ (‘jokes or gossip’ in Spanish). Although they gossip in private of course, these students like to discuss the significance and power of gossip, the gender differences you’ve cited above, and who among them is the biggest gossip. Perhaps it’s interesting to note that our informal conversations have generated notions and anecdotal evidence to support Dunbar’s theories, right down to why we humans started talking in the first place.

2. One might also turn to the etymology of ‘gossip’, a close friend with whom one gossips, for insight into the social function of gossip. Isn’t that how we sometimes use private chats (Facebook) and direct messages (Twitter) flow when we’re not communicating in the public spaces of social media? Didn’t Zuckerberg’s ‘The Facebook’ (as it was originally called) begin as a forum for college students to gossip about one another?

3. And last, but certainly not least, an article on the subject at hand:

http://tinyurl.com/72k3blq

The article cites several research projects, is rather long – and, therefore, seems even longer given our modern diet of infotainment bites? – but it relates directly to social media and indirectly to Dunbar’s number of 150, suggesting that as our connections broaden, they grow shallower:

“We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information.”

By the way, Facebook friends have claimed just the opposite.

Ironically (or not so?), one of the researchers examining social media so critically will begin work as a data scientist for Facebook this year.

The article also examines the narcissism (self indulgence?) associated with social media:

“Self-presentation on Facebook is continuous, intensely mediated, and possessed of a phony nonchalance that eliminates even the potential for spontaneity. (‘Look how casually I threw up these three photos from the party at which I took 300 photos!’) Curating the exhibition of the self has become a 24/7 occupation. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the Australian study ‘Who Uses Facebook?’ found a significant correlation between Facebook use and narcissism: ‘Facebook users have higher levels of total narcissism, exhibitionism, and leadership than Facebook nonusers,’ the study’s authors wrote. ‘In fact, it could be argued that Facebook specifically gratifies the narcissistic individual’s need to engage in self-promoting and superficial behavior.’

I think, however, that, overall, the article implies that how we use social media matters most, so that any signs of loneliness or narcissism are symptoms not of social media use per se, but rather reflect ourselves and society at large?

Rob

7 05 2012
helenoua38

This is interesting. I believe people use Facebook for different reasons, friendship might be one of them (whether or not is genuine I am not sure). However, I think it is also like a business industry where people aim to advertise themselves, their companies or products. So I guess in a way it is down to people to choose how and what they will use FB for.

7 05 2012
gotanda

To take “keep[ing] track of (and of course influenc[ing]) other people’s reputations as well as your own” a little bit further, I’d suggest reading Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in theMagic Kingdom” Free download http://bit.ly/daoitmk

Aside from being a fun read, it works out actually monetizing these connections (he doesn’t use the word gossip, but that is essentially the basis of the system) as a form of reputational currency called “Whuffie” and explores some of the potential upside (as well as the down, as you might expect from the title). More on Whuffie at Wikipedia of course http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whuffie

And, from there I found that the Whuffie Bank and that my Twittering etc. would earn me a salary of 37W a month. It seems my reputation peaked in late 2009. Any gossip-based millionaires here yet? http://thewhuffiebank.org/

7 05 2012
duncan

Liked your post Rob, and I don’t mean just a “Facebook like”. The quote about cul-de-sacs and freeways was something I can identify with. An interesting question for me is what has use of social media replaced in our lives? In other words, if we spend on average 2 hours per week (made that up) using social media, what do we spend 2 hours less on? The answer to this would tell us a lot about how social media are influencing or reflecting changes in human behaviour. To pick up the metaphor, are we getting somewhere we want to be faster, or spending more time in the car driving around aimlessly?

7 05 2012
Rob

Good question, Duncan, although it may be difficult to answer if we think about television viewership (in the 80s), for example, and studies that measured viewing time: many people didn’t realize or weren’t honest about how often they watched TV. I remember one study in which the researcher him/herself claimed to watch no TV at all but later had to reveal it was more on the order of several hours a week. How does that happen? And devices that measure when the TV is switched on can’t measure when we’re actually watching, however we define ‘watching’.

So with Facebook, we would have to accurately measure time spent looking at other people’s posts, posting, commenting, like-ing, etc. I’m sure there have been efforts to measure such things, or ‘screen time’ in general, but I wonder how accurate we can be.

Nonetheless, I can offer experiential evidence: about a week ago (Has it been a week?), I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to see what it feels like to be ‘unplugged’. What have I done with the ‘spare’ time? Honestly, a fraction has been spent wondering what my former contacts (friends and followers/followed ones) are up to, and the rest has gone to more reading, both online and off, a little more gardening, more contact with close friends and family, and exercise. But that’s just my guess.

I’d love to know if others have had a similar – or contrary – experience.

Thanks for your question, Duncan. Maybe I’ll find more time for blogs like your own now.🙂

Rob

7 05 2012
Rob

Oh, Duncan, I almost forgot to mention – since it’s staring me so squarely in the face?! I’ve become involved in a local effort to stop trains from transporting coal through the Columbia River Gorge on their way to transfer stations that will then ship the coal off to Asia (mostly China). Off to a rally today at noon. Ha! How ironic I should forget that I am more involved in the community. Think globally, act locally and all that.🙂

Rob

8 05 2012
Sue Pownall

I use my personal fb for friends, although some I have not met, yet, but correspond with on a regular basis. I never FB friend students or colleagues, but have a couple of ex-students, who are real friends having got to know them socially following the course. I currently have 104 friends. My cull point used to be 100, but I’ve moved too often for that to remain possible.

For my public life I have a FB Page (339 followers) & twitter (350), where anything public goes. These are mainly people with related interests or contacts.

10 05 2012
Rob

Since we’re sort of on the subject of Facebook, some of you might find this as surprising as I did. Or perhaps you’re more informed:

“This idea of labour being hidden in things, and the value of things arising from the labour congealed inside them, is an unexpectedly powerful explanatory tool in the digital world. Take Facebook. Part of its success comes from the fact that people feel that they and their children are safe spending time there, that it is a place you go to interact with other people but is not fundamentally risky or sleazy in the way new technologies are often perceived to be – that VHS, for instance, was when it was launched on the market. But the perception that Facebook is, maybe the best word would be ‘hygienic’, is sustained by tens of thousands of hours of badly paid labour on the part of the people in the developing world who work for companies hired to scan for offensive images and who are, according to the one Moroccan man who went on the record to complain about it, paid a dollar an hour for doing so. That’s a perfect example of surplus value: huge amounts of poorly paid menial work creating the hygienic image of a company which, when it launches on the stock market later this year, hopes to be worth $100 billion.”

Accessed on 5/9/2012 at http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n07/john-lanchester/marx-at-193

Rob

10 05 2012
Svetlana

Dear Scott,

Thank you for bringing up another fascinating thought-provoking post. I would definitely agree that gossiping reinforced language development. Gossiping implies talking about somebody who is not present here and now. Therefore, it serves as a proper incentive for abstract thought, leading to the emergence of necessary structural “equipment” such as the past of the verb and the third person. That’s why it might be considered as a well-grounded theory.
As for the other issue raised here, social networking and one’s use of it, isn’t it just another solidarity-building strategy? Forming social groups, reinforcing the feelings of belonging, leadership, etc. Another consideration is based on my own experience of using social networks: it involves first of all looking at the new pictures of the people i know and thus defining the state of their current “grooming” which on its own carries a lot of information about their health, emotions, well-being in general. Without any verbal language! Back to the primitive world…

10 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Thanks, Svetlana – I love your theory that gossip – by requiring distancing effects – caused grammar! It makes perfect sense. As I argued (in ‘Uncovering Grammar’) the more distance, the more grammar. But I had never thought of this in terms of the gossip imperative. Thanks!

12 05 2012
Svetlana

My pleasure, Scott. I do have the book, I did read it, I do use the photocopiable activities with my students and i do promote the book among my trainees. Thank you for the book! The idea of distance, either through time, social or physical, does provide explanation for grammar emergence, no doubt about that. Yet there is another “distance” that bothers me — it is cognitive maturity, the level of abstract thinking. At what age can a native speaker of any language be considered to have achieved the CPE level? At what age can a child perform the operation of hypothesizing about the past using let us say the third conditional? E.g., if i had invited Max to my party he would have created a lot of noise; that’s why i didn’t invite him. Has any research been done in this area? Do you happen to know? Thank you.

12 05 2012
Scott Thornbury

Hi Svetlana, Good question! A lot has been done on researching the development of children’s conceptual frameworks, although how much of this research has been applied to (second) language development I don’t know. Both Piaget and Vygotsky posit developmental stages that go from the conrete to the abstract — Piaget identifies a transition from what he calls concrete to formal operations, while Vygotsky makes a distinction between spontaneous and scientific concepts. Regardless of which model you choose, I would imagine that the capacity to hypothesise would come later rather than sooner – but I’m not an expert on child cognitive development! Nevertheless, it does seem a nonsense to teach the third conditional to 8-year-olds, but I know of at least one coursebook writer who was compelled to do this because of Ministry guidelines.

15 05 2012
Svetlana

Thank you, Scott, for your comment. Ministries of educations sometimes create the major obsctacles for learning to take place by imposing unrealistic goals. I wonder what country that coursebook comes from.
Coming back to the “distancing” notion wouldn’t you agree with me that it is the main built-in principle for level description in the Common Eurorean Framework of Reference for languages? It says, Level A1 — “immediate concrete surroundings”, “describe people i know” (i.e. gossipping!), level B1 — “describing experiences” (distancing from the past in the time dimension), level B2 — “giving reasons in support of a view” (evaluating a situation from a further cognitive distance), Level C2 — “abstract texts” (meaning I can understand those only relying on the concepts in my mind, very distant from reality). Thus, language development follows the same path through history and age. “I can gossip” is Level A1 for the primitive man🙂

28 02 2013
rokib

Hi Scott, now the meaning of the word ‘friend’ has changed for facebook. For example one day I gave a status on facebook. One of my friends commented on my status and that comment meant to insult me. It wasn’t insulting if he wasn’t my real life friend and there wasn’t any facebook. Now a days harassing in facebook by real life friends is so common coz they know almost everything of our life. So please don’t do that.

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