Objective Language

Jones

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Ailén said:
Perceval said:
"Our study suggests humans may be genetically pre-disposed to the influence by geomagnetic flux as it relates to the Earth's magnetic field and charged particles such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, gamma rays, and galactic cosmic rays."

Aha! Interesting, indeed. It makes you wonder how many things like this are actually "hard-wired" in us, but due to our limited languages, they are never put to use. I would imagine that some of it has to do with the focus a certain linguistic group puts into observing a particular part of the environment, even at an unconscious level (as in the case of the Guugu Yimithirr people not being able to actually explain how they know why such and such object is pointing to a specific cardinal point).

There seems to be a clue in the fact that when one observes reality as it is, or at least part of it depending where one is at in terms of Seeing, it then becomes "second nature". And the same could be said of an "objective language", if, for example, people observe something previously "unseen" -let's say, pathology in government-, after spotting it a few times they can see it every time it's present, and hence, their language develops as they learn to describe it? Hmm... Would this be, at least partially, related to what happens if one is able to gain knowledge and as a consequence activate "untapped DNA"?

Conversely, I wonder if silence and observation is a way of overcoming the programming of language?
 

Muxel

Dagobah Resident
Ailén said:
There seems to be a clue in the fact that when one observes reality as it is, or at least part of it depending where one is at in terms of Seeing, it then becomes "second nature".
I think that's the whole banana. First you tell the child what N-S-E-W are. You set up an imaginary grid for him, and every step he takes is in relation to that grid. Is it all just in his head, or does he eventually "use" his cryptochromes? Maybe both.

Maybe, like the Balinese boy, he "cheats" and relies on a map of his village. Did he fail to map out the foreign village because he wasn't using his cryptochromes the first time round? The Tzeltal speaker, no matter how he was spun, knew that North would always be North. Was this a 4D ability of which cryptochromes are reflections in the physical?

I have this idea that the Transformation happens when our horizons are opened up with such force that it becomes "permanent."


Jones said:
Conversely, I wonder if silence and observation is a way of overcoming the programming of language?
Non-anticipation, yup. And if we look at everything with intent to "evolve," (asking the Universe for "more") would we sidestep the programming altogether?
 

Mark7

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
Gurdjieff Said some very interesting things about language in his "All and Everything" series...

About the Russian and English languages:

"both these languages are like the dish which is called "Moscow Solinka," and into which everything goes except you and me, in fact everything you wish and even the after dinner chesma (veil) of Sheherazade."

Gurdjieff once commented on the difficulty in differentiating between "conscience" and "conscious" in French:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12vEN0MBMBk

I struggled with French for three years in high school and a year in college and never got the hang of it. I found myself in Germany in the army for almost a couple of years and was able, thanks to immersion, to become at least semi-fluent. Maybe it was just me, but I though German was a beautiful language compared to convoluted and baroque French, even with German's three genders. Does that make German even more sexist?

I feel fortunate to have had the exposure to other languages. It helps one see some of the... arbitrariness (?) of the way we think.

I find it interesting that the subjunctive tense in English has somewhat atrophied or at least relies on the infinitive, as opposed to the subjunctive in German, French and Spanish for example.

A thread on language could be interesting and informative. :)
 

LQB

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Perceval said:
I found this part particularly interesting in that it seems to suggest that the Guugu Yimithirr people have an 'internal' ability to sense the cardinal directions, sort of like the way birds are thought to sense the cardinal directions via the planet's electromagnetic field. It kind of ties in to the article I wrote on the "face-eating" business.

Is Solar and Cosmic Radiation Playing Havoc With Life on Planet Earth?

and this part in particular:

In 2011, Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts in Worcester and his colleagues were studying cryptochromes - the light-sensitive proteins that regulate the circadian clocks of many creatures, including humans, and help fruit flies and birds sense the Earth's magnetic fields. Reppert wanted to know if human cryptochromes could be used to sense the Earth's magnetic fields. So he replaced those found in fruit flies with a human version, hCRY2, which is found in the human retina. In tests, the fruit flies had no problem using human cryptochrome to sense magnetic fields, which implies humans have the hardware to do the same, but for some reason do not activate the ability, says Reppert.

Lead researcher Robert J. Gegear, from the Department of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School summarized the findings as they relate to humans, solar and cosmic rays and the earth's magnetic field:

"Our study suggests humans may be genetically pre-disposed to the influence by geomagnetic flux as it relates to the Earth's magnetic field and charged particles such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, gamma rays, and galactic cosmic rays."

Some of the latest research on EMF effects suggest that EMF may act through cryptochromes to disrupt circadian metabolic rhythms. The "melatonin hypothesis" of EMF interaction suggests direct impact on pineal production leading to cancers and other chronic disease. If you look at the Schumann resonances derived (Fourier transform) from magnetic field measurements over time, the fundamental peak/mode is at 7.8 Hz - in the alpha EEG range for humans. Higher order modes of the Schumann resonances extend up to 45Hz encompassing the same range as the human EEG (and probably other animals). It may be that EMF in its various forms (dirty power, AC mag fields, and RF/microwave) masks the natural earth-sun magnetic field EMF and cuts us off from sensing the fields that have been around for maybe billions of years.
 

Mrs.Tigersoap

The Living Force
Perceval said:
I found this part particularly interesting in that it seems to suggest that the Guugu Yimithirr people have an 'internal' ability to sense the cardinal directions, sort of like the way birds are thought to sense the cardinal directions via the planet's electromagnetic field. It kind of ties in to the article I wrote on the "face-eating" business.

Ailén said:
Aha! Interesting, indeed. It makes you wonder how many things like this are actually "hard-wired" in us, but due to our limited languages, they are never put to use.


That's interesting indeed. We were just reflecting recently with Tigersoap how English-speaking people use the cardinal directions way more often than French-speaking people. In French, it will mainly be used to talk about regions (The South or the North of France) or in an idiom like 'perdre le nord' (to lose the North), but in English, the metro is eastbound, you must go to the West wing/Gate, streets have cardinal directions in their name, your bag is an East-west hobo (a bag the width of which is bigger than its height), things go south, people give you cardinal directions for an itinerary (rare in French, people will usually give geographic/road/scenery references instead), you say East Bank (the French will say Rive gauche), etc.
 

Thomas Alan

The Living Force
Interesting discussion.

A man I knew at a previous place I worked told me about his experience in moving from a rural area to the city. He had lived in the country almost all his life.

He said when you asked someone in a rural area how far someplace was they would usually answer "Oh, about 14 miles."

When he came to the city he found that people would respond to the same question in terms of driving time. "Maybe 20 minutes from here."

One description in space, the other in time.

Mac
 

kenlee

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Ailén said:
In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions (like “fall”). For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both academics and the general public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole range of imaginative claims about the supposed power of language, from the assertion that Native American languages instill in their speakers an intuitive understanding of Einstein’s concept of time as a fourth dimension to the theory that the nature of the Jewish religion was determined by the tense system of ancient Hebrew.

This is very interesting since I was thinking that language itself is like a kind of genetic code that makes it possible for accurate information and knowledge of the deeper realities to manifest itself into this reality via the power of speech and the written word. So (just speculating here) an accurate language can more accurately reflect our inner life and, with our deeper conscious realization of this, along with our increasingly greater conscious recognition of the deeper meanings behind things that comes along with it, then this will help guide our own evolution (at all levels) just as the genetic code of a plant will outwardly, accurately, reflect the inner life of a plant and it's possibilities, allowing it's inner life to manifest in this world in it's growth, maybe even its 'evolution.' So let's say you have an accurate language. Then accurate information, intuitive knowledge of the universe can now have a better possibility of coming thru undistorted into this reality and be made manifest. Then that happens and our understanding increases. Then our understanding increases and then our DNA is changed accordingly. So, possibly, this greater understanding might even change our own DNA to reflect this deeper understanding of our inner life (or something like that)? And then this process kinda evolves? Diet is important too of course. Just speculating here!
 

Graalsword

Jedi Council Member
Mrs.Tigersoap said:
That's interesting indeed. We were just reflecting recently with Tigersoap how English-speaking people use the cardinal directions way more often than French-speaking people. In French, it will mainly be used to talk about regions (The South or the North of France) or in an idiom like 'perdre le nord' (to lose the North), but in English, the metro is eastbound, you must go to the West wing/Gate, streets have cardinal directions in their name, your bag is an East-west hobo (a bag the width of which is bigger than its height), things go south, people give you cardinal directions for an itinerary (rare in French, people will usually give geographic/road/scenery references instead), you say East Bank (the French will say Rive gauche), etc.

True! That is something I have observed many times too. Through American movies, I saw many times them referring to cardinal direction, within a town, in a road, etc. In spanish (my tongue), it is similar as a French, people almost never uses cardinal points, I have observe that people in my country almost never talks about cardinal directions and many people don't even now the exact location of cardinal directions from where they stand. The will give other references as Mrs.Tigersoap said.
 

Laura

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Graalsword said:
Mrs.Tigersoap said:
That's interesting indeed. We were just reflecting recently with Tigersoap how English-speaking people use the cardinal directions way more often than French-speaking people. In French, it will mainly be used to talk about regions (The South or the North of France) or in an idiom like 'perdre le nord' (to lose the North), but in English, the metro is eastbound, you must go to the West wing/Gate, streets have cardinal directions in their name, your bag is an East-west hobo (a bag the width of which is bigger than its height), things go south, people give you cardinal directions for an itinerary (rare in French, people will usually give geographic/road/scenery references instead), you say East Bank (the French will say Rive gauche), etc.

True! That is something I have observed many times too. Through American movies, I saw many times them referring to cardinal direction, within a town, in a road, etc. In spanish (my tongue), it is similar as a French, people almost never uses cardinal points, I have observe that people in my country almost never talks about cardinal directions and many people don't even now the exact location of cardinal directions from where they stand. The will give other references as Mrs.Tigersoap said.

Funny thing: while I was living in Florida, where I grew up, I perfectly knew directions in both contexts, however, I generally gave directions to others based on their point of reference because I was aware that most people were "lost" and that saying "go north" or "go south" would have been meaningless to them. It was sort of a natural form of external considering. I still do it.

HOWEVER, having said that, I notice that my sense of direction is not as strong here and I think that is mainly because the sun is in a completely different place in the sky and has a completely different relationship to the planet at this northern latitude. I still can't get used to a sun that sweeps across the sky at something like 45 degrees or less in the winter. Nor can I get used to a sun that stays in the sky as long as it does here in mid-summer. For me, the light, the direction, everything is all messed up and even though I almost never get lost, I still can't quite get used to it.

When I'm in the car, I like to keep the GPS map set on true north so I can see what direction I am going in relation to North in hopes that it will eventually get programmed into me.
 

Don Diego

Jedi Master
Just another silly remark or question...again!

By reading this morning the "who created the creator" thread and particularly the replies to Muxell, I couldn't prevent myself to think that those replies were adressed to me and so was wondering if, in english at least, the use of the plural at the 2nd person, you ARE instead of you IS, although you speak to a single person, was a mean to express the multiple selves setting of the human mind?
Or when you adress to one person you mean to speak to a vast number of people and at the opposite when you adress to a group of people, at the same time you speak to each individual?

And so, what particularity that induces in the english speakers' minds? unless other languages do the same?

Very interesting thread indeed even though again a "bit" uncomfortable for a french native speaker constantly facing with his own programming...
 

Graalsword

Jedi Council Member
Don Diego said:
Just another silly remark or question...again!

By reading this morning the "who created the creator" thread and particularly the replies to Muxell, I couldn't prevent myself to think that those replies were adressed to me and so was wondering if, in english at least, the use of the plural at the 2nd person, you ARE instead of you IS, although you speak to a single person, was a mean to express the multiple selves setting of the human mind?
Or when you adress to one person you mean to speak to a vast number of people and at the opposite when you adress to a group of people, at the same time you speak to each individual?

And so, what particularity that induces in the english speakers' minds? unless other languages do the same?

Very interesting thread indeed even though again a "bit" uncomfortable for a french native speaker constantly facing with his own programming...

That is interesting, and again, French language has something to do with this change in early modern English from 'Thou' to 'You':

I just found this:

_http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~eng121-c/politenessin%20AME.htm

[...]
Why did the system collapse?

Part of the answer lies in the social function of pronouns. By the beginning of the fourteenth century, the singular and plural Middle English pronouns had developed an additional pragmatic function, controlled more by social concerns than by grammatical ones. In other words, the choice of pronouns was not determined solely by the grammatical designation of person (first, second, third) or number (singular, plural). Instead, what somebody chose in order to address another person signified her assessment of that person's status and relationship with her. After all, the second person pronoun is arguably crucial to effective spoken communication with an addressee. (Have you noticed how difficult it is to sound polite on one hand and friendly on the other if you don't use a person's name when you are talking to them? It is rather like avoiding use of the address term you.)

As early as the thirteenth century, the old oblique non-nominative plural forms (ye and you ) were used to address single individuals (not groups of addressees). This development may well have been influenced by French courtly practice, which itself was based on Latin modes of address. The important clue to understanding this development is the word courtly, since the choice of you to address an individual signified the speaker's high regard for the addressee as one of equal or superior social status. Because you tended to be the preferred option mainly in upper-class or courtly contexts in the Middle English period, thou increasingly came to be associated with lower status. The status-oriented distinction of second person pronoun usage is by no means unusual. In many languages, like German and French, there is still a regular pragmatic distinction between the polite so-called "V" option (Sie, Vous, Usted, Lei/Loro ) and the more familiar "T" option (du, tu, tu, voi) to address an individual. In fact, patterns of address in different languages tend to be as complex and socially-sensitive as their cultural-specific norms of politeness may dictate. So languages like Japanese and Shona have complicated honorific systems, of which the pragmatically dictated syntax of address is just a part.

By the fifteenth century, the use of you/ thou was an established index of social status. But it also acted as a marker of interpersonal relationships. (Notions of superiority/ inferiority were not solely dependent on rank or social class, but were applied to family groups too.) The choice of you/ thou during this time was governed by more contingent, context-dependent pragmatic as well as established social rules -- requiring a certain sensitivity of judgment on the part of the speaker. In fact these rules still hold; think about your response to the ways different people use your name. For instance, if your name happens to be James Penberthy, how would you react to being called 'Jimmy' or 'Penners' by a person you'd just been introduced to? In other words, the hearer can quite accurately calculate the speaker's attitude towards him by her choice of address form (whether name or pronoun). Consequently, the socially-oriented contrast of you/ thou developed interpersonal meanings.

· You came to be associated with respect and formality in its appropriate public setting; but …

· You could signify distance even coldness in emotional terms if used inappropriately or unexpectedly.

· Thou was used to address one's social inferiors, but…

· Thou was also used reciprocally between equals in a private setting. So it became established as a marker of familiarity or intimacy.

you thou

address to social superiors <-----> address to social inferiors

address to social equals <-----> address of social equals

(upper class) (lower class)

address in public <-----> address in private

formal or neutral address <-----> familiar or intimate address

respect, admiration <-----> contempt, scorn

The evidence for rules of usage?

Rather mixed….. In Shakespeare's Richard III, for example, the use of thou illustrates asymmetrical relations of status (that is, superior to inferior) as well being used to signal heightened emotional tone and intimacy, strongly influenced by register, topic, the relationship between interlocutors, and quite a number of other factors having little to do with status or power.

_http://the-tech.mit.edu/Shakespeare/richardiii/richardiii.1.2.html Scene 2, Richard of Gloucester and Lady Anne

But literary texts do not mirror real life directly; they combine observation of everyday human behaviour with poetic expression which results in the subjective construction of a fictional world. So in trying to investigate the loss of thou in the Early Modern period, it is necessary to look for other types of evidence which might lead to a more promising answer. Data like court records, which are more or less faithful transcripts of speech, give some idea of the social constraints operating between speakers from a wide cross-section of social backgrounds. The following reported exchange about the theft of some sheep comes from Hunstanworth records, from the Durham ecclesiastical court, around 1560. It illustrates the social tensions symbolised in pronominal usage quite sharply
[...]

It is important to observe that since pronouns are used in isolation very seldom, but more often than not are connected with a following verb: she has, I want, they are, one does; it ought not to be surprising that changes in the pronominal system have had important implications for the organisation of verb endings. So for example, the disappearance of the Middle English thou/thee forms leads unavoidably to the loss of the distinctiveness between singular and plural in the second person form of the verb: from thou wast to you were for both singular and plural. In fact, Alexander Pope argued that the number distinction should be maintained on the verb, even if one used you to refer to a single individual, and for some time he used the pattern you was, but abandoned it when his contemporaries condemned it as inelegant and vulgar.
It continues, it's too long.

Edit: Added more of the quote, because the 'post' button shot itself without any movement of my finger
 

Don Diego

Jedi Master
Thanks Grassword for the link. Ok after having read the full article I better understand now, at last, the shift from "thou to you" but yet can't grasp the conservation of the plural to address to an individual :huh:
 

Chu

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Don Diego said:
Just another silly remark or question...again!

By reading this morning the "who created the creator" thread and particularly the replies to Muxell, I couldn't prevent myself to think that those replies were adressed to me

How so?

and so was wondering if, in english at least, the use of the plural at the 2nd person, you ARE instead of you IS, although you speak to a single person, was a mean to express the multiple selves setting of the human mind?
Or when you adress to one person you mean to speak to a vast number of people and at the opposite when you adress to a group of people, at the same time you speak to each individual?

Well, first, I doubt that there is more to it than just a specific morphological and phonetical transformation from "though art", in old English. The convention in English is, as you can see with all other verbs, that the second person in singular (you) gets conjugated with the same form as all other persons except for the third in singular (he/she/it). So, I wouldn't try to read too much into that, but I don't know about English etymology rules.

Indeed, in English, as in many other languages, YOU can be used either to address a specific person, or as a general/collective YOU ("on" in French). But I don't think the second meaning was present at all on the replies made to Muxxel. Therefore, I'm curious as to why you thought they were.
 

Don Diego

Jedi Master
Ailén said:
Therefore, I'm curious as to why you thought they were.

simply because each time somebody receives a "mirroring rant" on any subject or situation, I automatically put myself into his shoes and therefore get my punishment as if I were myself at the origin of the problem...Weird I know, not only here...
 

Chu

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Don Diego said:
Very interesting thread indeed even though again a "bit" uncomfortable for a french native speaker constantly facing with his own programming...

I understand, but on the other hand, you can consider yourself lucky. Because it is a great opportunity to see how programming takes place in your mind. We could be analyzing any other language, but whenever there is a slight focus on French, take it as a gift! I wish we would do this exercise with every language spoken here by forum members, actually, because a lot of clues are hidden in our own respective languages, and being too close, we can't see them unless we get an "outsider" view. It's lucky that a lot of us "foreigners" in France can try to analyze it outside of the mentality one adopts when having French as a mother tongue. So just try to have "fun" learning, if you can. It's not a criticism on YOU as an individual, if you can see it past your identification. OSIT. :)

That said, and don't hate me for this ;), here's a very interesting article, IMO, written by a Dane who lived in Germany, Luxembourg and England, and has now been in France for several years. So, another "outsider" view with some distance to tell what he sees:

The Reality of French Mentality

Many foreigners have a rosy and romantic image of France. Official French information and tourist information project such an image for obvious reasons. Media project such an image because that is what people like to read, so it sells. But while the romantic images are not necessarily false, they only represent a part of French reality.

It may seem needless to say, but I will do it anyway: Don't assume that people are friendly just because they appear friendly. It's tempting to arrive in the beautiful nature and the warm climate of the south and take a word for a word. There are genuinely friendly and honest Frenchmen, and there are Frenchmen who appear friendly so long as everything goes to plan. However, it may not take much to turn relations sour. A demand for repair of a rented accommodation may be all it takes. At such an occasion, many Frenchmen will instinctively accuse the client or tenant to have broken the equipment himself, without having done anything to find the cause. In regions or communities where the locals keep a regional or local identity that they may value higher than their French identity, you many find that one local will very often protect another local regardless of who is right. This includes legal officials such as judges, bailiffs (huissiers), notaries, so-called judicial experts, mayors, local administration staff and many others, although you are more likely to find this tendency of favouritism in the countryside than in cities. When it happens, it can be real bad when they put their regional conscience above their professional conscience and make a sham procedure. This can for example be the case in Provence, where anyone from outside Provence may be regarded with suspicion, and particularly those from the large northern cities Paris and Lille. Parisians may in fact encounter more difficulties getting accepted in Provence than foreigners. While people in Provence consider the northerners, and particularly those from Paris, arrogant, those in Provence have a reputation for not hesitating to shaft others if they can get away with it.

Marcel Pagnol, a French author having spent his childhood in Provence, and the producer Claude Berri magnificently demonstrate the Provence character in the double-feature films Jean de Florette I and II, also named respectively "La source en Provence" and "Manon des sources". While showing the natural, splendid nature of Provence at the superficial level better than any tourist film could possibly do it, the film also has a parallel, very sombre story to tell about the cruel selfishness that makes some people in Provence do everything for money and gain, whatever the damage to others. It is a movie one can watch many times and discover new details every time. At the first viewing, many would mainly be charmed by the beautiful nature. At the following viewings, the devious scheming becomes increasingly clear. It's nothing less than a masterpiece.

So don't take anything for granted. You need to be cautious but at the same time friendly until you know that something is wrong and without succumbing to paranoia. Considerations of what is fair in France may differ from what you consider fair. As there isn't any social stigma associated with cheating (unless one self is the victim), what is fair seems to be what one can get away with, not what a Briton or a Scandinavian would necessarily consider fair.

To make a very crude allegory, where one can consider the American character as a dog, recognising its master, running and panting to go fetch the stick to return to the owner, jump up and down, and get its reward, the French character can be associated with the cat, independent, suspicious, cunning, refusing to obey any orders, considering itself the master and the owner its territory (no offence intended for any of the nationalities). If you walk into a cat's territory without knowing what you're doing and what you're facing, you'll get your nose or limbs scratched. If the dog thinks it can charm the cat by fetching sticks and panting, it needs to review its strategy. The cat couldn't care less.

Admitting Mistakes

You will only rarely hear a Frenchman admit a mistake and even more rarely apologise for a mistake. According to French culture, that would be seen as a weakness. Only if the Frenchman is convinced that the only way to gain favour for himself is to apologise may he do it. In cases where a company was wrong, they won't apologise either, nor will they admit having breached the contract. If you write a formal complaint and they can't find any possible excuses that they can twist into their defence, chances are that in many cases, they will just stick their heads in the sand and not reply. The many ombudsmen in France are thus busy sorting out what companies themselves should have sorted out in the first place. If they compensate or refund what they are supposed to do according to the contract or the law, they will call it a "commercial gesture", as if they were acting generously to do more than they were obliged to, whereas in fact they are simply fulfilling their obligations.

The French and Their Resistance to Simplification

It is not without reason that France and the French have a reputation for a complicated administration. There is so much detail and so many exceptions in French laws, regulations, circulars and other more or less official text that no human being can understand it all. As a result, the application of these laws is often incorrect or even arbitrary. The civil servants who have to administer the laws on a daily basis simply cannot have sufficient knowledge to do it correctly, unless they spend many weeks a year studying laws.

However, the government occasionally makes a real effort to simplify things and reduce the red tape. The trouble is that even after that is done, the local authorities continue as before, insisting on paperwork that has been officially abolished.

As an example, the proof of domicile (justificatif de domicile) was officially abolished by Decree number 2000-1277 on 26 December 2000, except for a handful of particular cases. A guide to local administrations was published by the government to explain this. However, more than ten years later, many local administrations continue illegally to insist on providing a justificatif de domicile even when it has already been verified by other means that the person is living where he claims to live. It is a dogma. No logical argumentation can change their mind. If you show them the Decree and the governmental guide, they will just shrug. It is hardcoded into their brain from birth that without a justificatif de domicile, no procedure can be valid. They feel that would betray their country and heritage if they even dared to question the usefulness of the justificatif de domicile. Hence, they may well refuse a perfectly legitimate and complete request illegally because that document is missing.

In the private sector, companies have an obsession with the wording lu et approuvé (read and approved). They insist that when signing a paper or contract, the person signing must add lu et approuvé in handwriting next to the signature. However, lu et approuvé has no more legal significance than bonjour. It is the signature that counts, not what people might add of silly remarks next to the signature. This is another dogma that cannot be discussed.

Already in 1976, the government decided that it was a waste of money for schools to require medical certificates for children absent because of illness. Circular number 76-288 was issued to school directors on 8 September 1976 to tell them to stop requiring these certificates and explained it was a waste of public funds. Yet, in 2011, many schools continue to require these certificates, a requirement that any parent can ignore because of the government position. One simply does not need to bother about this.

Hence the paradox that while the French never stop complaining about their administration and its endless complexities, they thrive with useless complexity and formality. They just won't admit it. They desperately cling to unnecessary formalities in some irrational fear that things would stop working if they were really simplified. The more a procedure is entwined in formalities, the more they consider it genuine and worthy. Why make it simple if you can make it complicated? It is not a cliché.

On the 3 May 1990, the Académie française decided unanimously to reform the French language, notably to make the spelling more consistent with the pronunciation. The Académie française are officially charged with deciding how the French language is used and spelled. This is where well-connected Frenchmen are placed the last few years of their lives, particularly if they have published an intellectual novel that nobody has read. Part of their work consists of keeping influence from the English language out of the French language and decree silly words such as courriel for e-mail, a silly word that almost nobody uses anyway, but they occasionally publish a reform that makes sense.

Many of the changes corrected the accents. For example, réglementaire was changed to règlementaire to reflect the way it is pronounced. A more radical measure was to abolish the accent circumflex on I's and U's except specific cases, so for example maître is now spelled maitre and coût is now spelled cout. These accent circumflexes only served as a historic reminder that once upon a time, there had been an S that place. One still finds that S in the English version if the words above: master, cost. But if one reads any official French text or newspaper or report or commercial or whatever, one would not notice that a linguistic reform had taken place more than 20 years earlier. The French treat their country and language as if they were museums. Admitting that anything could change would destroy their perception of the world. Hence, they stubbornly insist on the old spelling, ignoring that what they consider traditional spelling had also at some time been a reformed spelling. Even school teachers stubbornly continue teaching the outdated spelling. If we look further back in history when Latin was dominant in noble circles, French was considered no more than vulgar Latin, a language so vulgar that noble people should not condescend to even trying to understand it.

The French Have a Right to Everything


For the French, their rights are something God-given that come before any duties they might have. Rights are undeniable and mandatory, while duties may be performed if no rights prevent it. You will hear about rights to make mistakes, rights to strike, perceived (but illegal) rights to make blockades, rights to holidays, weekends, lunch breaks etc., and many more rights. If a garage forgets to tighten the wheels on your car after service, you may be told that they have a right to make mistakes, and you will understand that you are a nuisance for complaining. You are unlikely to be able to change that mentality. It can sound relaxed when you hear about the typical French laisser-faire attitude, but it may not be quite so relaxing if you need something and no one wants to take responsibility for it. After a few years, it may even become stressful, but that depends on your own attitude.

France - a Land of Contradictions

France is a land of contradictions, between high technology such a latest-generation nuclear power plants based on original French research, high-speed trains, a modern and performing communications network, a dense network of high-quality motorways, and a reactionary, obsessive resistance to any type of change, unless that change is immediately beneficial to one-self.


France Heading Towards Bankruptcy on First Class


Decades of public over-spending, over-regulation, a bloated public sector, an overly generous welfare system that often makes it more profitable not to work than to work, high taxation, high social charges, unfavourable conditions for small businesses, taxation of capital through a wealth tax, corporatism and big state mentality has brought France close to bankruptcy. France has been unable to cope with the changes imposed by globalisation and then the global crisis, desperately clinging to the pre-1960 past, fearful of change and the future. A relatively modest pension reform in 2010, raising the pension age from 60 to 62 (from 65 to 67 for a full pension) threw the country into chaos with weeks of strikes and blockades. The government and the media are simply not telling the French how bad the economic situation is, and how severe the necessary cuts will be, so the French persevere in their rosy dreams of welfare, unaware of what awaits them. Authorities at all levels continue wasting vast amounts of money supporting pet projects and businesses they like so they can boast with their achievements and distort competition. When it finally dawns and there is no more money to pay the bloated army of civil servants and to hand out to friends, I fear that Greece will be a playground compared with the civil unrest that is to come in France.

France's Immigrant Population


What adds to the problems is a growing immigrant population, whether first generation or later generations, from north Africa. A vast part of them are not integrated in French culture, social life and employment. They are simply piled up in concrete towers in unpleasant suburbs that have become breeding grounds for all sorts of crime and underground economy. Successive governments have largely failed to address the problems. These problems, and a minority of violent, rioting youth regularly burning cars and attacking police, have led to a general refusal by the 'historic' French to accept the immigrant population, so even perfectly decent people with an immigrant background from north Africa find it very difficult to find work.

France, the Euro and Competitiveness

The introduction of the euro in 1999 is accused of many for having led to price increases, unemployment and lack of competitiveness in export and tourism, since France cannot devalue its currency, and French productivity has never been able to keep up with Germany. It is my view from price comparisons that the French overestimate the price increases and that the tightened household budgets are mostly the result of stagnating salaries, and increasing property taxes and fuel. The stagnating salaries are a result of the 35-hour working week and the falling competitiveness of French industry caused by the high cost of manpower including social charges, and the overvalued euro that makes it difficult to export.

French Protectionism


French protectionism, sometimes by introducing decrees that violate international law, led to Ryanair announcing in October 2010 that they were going to shut down their only French hub in Marseille, until such time that France is ready to respect international law. Whatever one thinks about Ryanair, it is an undisputable fact that the creation of a hub in Marseille by Ryanair in 2006 brought hundreds of jobs and economic activity to the Provence region. But big-state, corporatist France don't mind shooting itself in the foot and destroying jobs if old-style, communist-marxist unions demand it in their own selfish interest, to defend the interest of corporations such as Air France and union members. The first to lose out are small businesses and workers in the tourist industry.

When in 2010 the Eurostar high-speed train company providing rail services through the Channel Tunnel decided to buy German trains from Siemens instead of the French company Alstom, after a fair call for tender, the French government immediately threw a spanner in the works, claiming the German trains didn't fulfil safety regulations in the tunnel because of some detail that can be easily adapted, bringing France on a collision course with Germany. The French are bad losers. The term "fair competition" doesn't exist in their dictionary.

French Employment Law

It is relatively well known that French employment law is very protective of the employee. But as another contradiction, once you're away from the union controlled sectors, French employers can be the least willing to respect employment law, effectively laying off workers illegally, as if there were no employment law at all, and not respecting employment conditions, including not paying the contractual working hours. The worker may eventually win in court, but it requires a fair amount of determination and energy to keep suing employer after employer, and when it becomes known that Mr Dupont regularly sues his employers, he may end up finding that no one wants to hire him. As such, the high level of protection of French workers is partially and effectively a myth. On the other hand, the employer who honestly intend to respect the employment law in good faith will find that it is an almost insurmountable nightmare to do so, as the employer is bound on hands and feet if the law is applied.

The Law is There to be Broken

One could be forgiven for thinking that France holds the record in the number and extent of laws regulating everything at the same time as its population, government and administration hold the record in breaching the laws. Someone with a British or Scandinavian mentality may find himself in a dilemma between upholding his principles of respect for the law, leading to everybody else walking all over him, and becoming like the French, cheating and breaching laws as a necessity for surviving.

Safety is for wimps

The French are so used to not respecting anything and anybody that they don't pay attention to elementary safety precautions. Hence, you can see a Frenchman arriving at a service station while lighting a cigarette, all windows open while the brain is presumably in the gloves compartment. Hence, one reads about children and adults dying in fires because the electrical installation was dangerous and nobody had bothered to fit a smoke detector. Hence the deadly fire in the Mont Blanc tunnel some years ago that revealed a chaotic organisation of how to deal with fire.

You will not be able to change this irresponsible mentality in any way, but you need to know that you cannot presume that the sense of responsibility and safety standards in theory and practice are anything near the level you are used to. It means that you need to verify such things yourself, particularly if planning to buy or even rent a property.

Don't Burn the Bridges Behind You

Expats would be well advised of not becoming too dependent on French structures (jobs, clients, income ...), as the whole thing may come crashing down when the public debt becomes an insurmountable problem. Don't burn the bridges behind you. You may need to get out quickly.

Well, he doesn't have the whole banana, and I find his remarks about immigrants and communism to be quite off-putting, but overall, many of his examples are things some of us have noticed many times while living in France. And it ties up with that huge resistance in France to welcome modern research, abandon the obviously psychopathic Freudian trend, study new and crucial subjects, respect anyone who does not have a degree but has studied for years, open their minds to new ideas, develop social communication and real solidarity, etc.
 
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