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Heh heh heh. Mark Liberman, my conduit to a respectable Erdős number, had this to say today:

Most of us are pretty good at “audience design“: fitting how we express ourselves to what others are ready to hear. We notice when someone else is especially bad at this; but everyone’s image of other people’s minds has some blind spots. Cross-cultural communication often runs aground on such misperceptions, or at least so we’re told those who aim to teach us how to interpret the table manners and negotiating ploys of other cultures. And one of the deeper cultural divisions within our own society appears to be the one that separates lawyers from everybody else.

As the rest of the post suggests, if scientists have problems with the word theory, lawyers have trouble with the word fact.

It’s interesting that from the linguists’ perspective, “most of us are pretty good” at this audience design trickery. Rather than a technique which we must master at our peril, they take it as a basic assumption that “speakers adjust their speech primarily towards that of their audience in order to express solidarity or intimacy with them, or conversely away from their audience’s speech in order to express distance.”

One Comment

    • eric
    • Posted Tuesday, 17 April 2007 at 18:50 pm
    • Permalink

    Interesting. The meaning of conclusory is similar to a concept I have often used in discussing (esp. romantic) relationships — that of an empirically verifiable observation about someone vs. something that only a person with ESP could actually know, e.g. “she hates me” (conclusory) as opposed to “she slammed the door in my face and told me to die” (more empirical). I am very pleased to see that some concepts of the scientific method, empiricism, etc. exist in the legal field, though not surprised, in retrospect.


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