evaluation by lexicologist Jean Pruvost

It began with a language column I wrote on the radio. I used to be requested for an English phrase: “bye”. This abbreviation of farewell comes from a spiritual expression “God be with you (you)”, or “God be with you”, courting from the top of the XIVe century, contracted about 1570 in “godbwye”, and later in “goodbye” (like “good day”) after which “goodbye”. How humorous that this well mannered time period changed into a narrative, I regarded up what it was for hey, hey, goodbye, and so on. The extra I searched, the extra I found a universe, a…

It began with a language column I wrote on the radio. I used to be requested for an English phrase: “bye”. This abbreviation of farewell comes from a spiritual expression “God be with you (you)”, or “God be with you”, courting from the top of the XIVe century, contracted about 1570 in “godbwye”, and later in “goodbye” (like “good day”) after which “goodbye”. How humorous that this well mannered time period changed into a narrative, I regarded up what it was for hey, hey, goodbye, and so on. The extra I regarded, the extra I found a universe, an idea the place the phrase politeness above virtually all different qualities went. Many writers, in actual fact virtually all, point out it. I fell in love with the topic. To talk as a linguist, in a considerably pedantic components, politeness is a type of hypernym (a time period whose which means consists of that of a number of different phrases, hyponyms, editor’s observe). So it’s with love or man.

“To the phrase politeness, the Italians have added the idea of fashion, class, with out harshness”

Did the Italians invent politeness?

Politezza is usually stated to return from the Italian phrase “politezza”, which appeared in French in 1578. In actuality, we have now to go a lot additional again. In 1180 we had “polish”. In Latin, “to shine” means to clean. This was the case after we talked concerning the polished face of a younger girl. It was additionally concerning the evocation of sheep wool being polished to make it softer. The Italians have added the idea of fashion, class, with out harshness. After fashion, we switched to politeness as a high quality between folks, testify La Rochefoucauld and La Bruyère. After I informed mates that I wanted to work on politeness, I heard: “There’s a number of want for it. The truth is, we want all of it our lives and at all times. In the present day is at least yesterday. She’s even stronger. There’s undoubtedly much less politeness.

Sincere, cultured, courteous, type, courteous, courteous, amiable are synonyms of politeness. What’s your favorite?

Courtois in a way, as a result of it’s the phrase that preceded the set up of politeness within the French language. The etymology is a reminder that the time period corresponds to the court docket. It is as much as Francis Ier, Louis XIII then Louis XIV that we owe this confirmed notion. Thanks to those kings, a type of mannequin arose, emphasised by the quote of Abbé Girard: “One have to be trustworthy with out ceremony, civil with out obtrusiveness, well mannered with out faintness, sleek with out simplification and affable with out familiarity.”

Politeness doesn’t use the identical codes in keeping with international locations and continents…

To investigate politeness via time and house, to completely perceive it, we have now to confront completely different cultures. Nothing replaces journey. In Russia, you’re amazed on the obvious lack of friendliness. Folks do not say hey within the elevator the place nobody else is watching you. Russians are pleasant once they know you and are brimming courteously. Conversely, in the USA, kindness and a smile are instantaneous. The primary identify comes instantly. You’re feeling concerned. However inviting somebody doesn’t suggest they are going to do the identical. Crossing your legs is insulting in Muslim international locations. In India, if within the homes the friendliness is big, in public transport you’re virtually in a universe of brutes.

Like Prince Philip, politeness might be praised as a lifestyle in England.

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“That is what humor is, it is taking a little bit of distance, not embarrassing the opposite individual, making him smile. out of courtesy”

You say that politeness of the center shouldn’t be confused courteously?

Some folks present politeness, however lack the politeness of the center, which, nonetheless, is finest shared amongst males. Politenesses (good manners, editors observe) are taught and ought to be inspired in kids, corresponding to listening or consideration. A dictionary has outlined politeness because the science of dwelling. We should additionally examine this high quality with Schopenhauer’s well-known allegory of the porcupines. When it is chilly they huddle collectively, however once they get too shut they contact and sting one another. It’s vital to seek out the fitting distance, so it’s courteously.

What do you consider the expression “too well mannered to be trustworthy”?

This components might be considered distrust. So it’s applicable to worth every individual in keeping with their conduct. Nice variations in angle might be noticed from one being to a different. Some are taciturn, others don’t love to speak an excessive amount of or do not discuss simply, particularly due to shyness. This may result in rudeness and even an unwelcome angle by being too well mannered, which may go so far as submission.

Is accuracy the civility of kings (Louis XIV) or watches (Jean Dutourd), as humor is the civility of despair (Chris Marker, filmmaker)?

Arriving on time in Italy is sort of impolite. It is time in the USA. In France, we advocate a couple of minutes late, the tutorial quarter. For a king – immediately for a minister – we could not stand being late. Humour? The English developed it effectively. In France we rely extra on puns. Humor offers a contact of distance. Humor is that, it is a bit of little bit of distance, not embarrassing the opposite, urging him to smile. Out of courtesy.

“Courtesy – On Phrases and Historical past”, by Jean Pruvost, ed. Tallandier, 302 pages, €20.90.

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