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Verbal Blundering 0.101

by Alex in Toulouse Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:44:51 AM EST

I thought I'd write a short diary about blundering, in its verbal form. Any particular reason? No no, just like that, for no reason ... no hidden agenda, cough cough.

blunder. v. intr. to make a mistake through stupidity, ignorance, or carelessness

1) Identification

Blundering, in its verbal form, could be construed as an art, if at least for the delicate balancing nature of the material behind it. ie. contrarily to what the dictionary may say, I am in a position to reveal to you that verbal blundering requires a very careful mix of:

  • a (momentary?) lack of interest in something/someone
  • a propensity towards talking before thinking
  • a habit of being easily preoccupied or distracted in given contexts

When a man realises that he has just committed a verbal blunder, a possible reaction of his will be to cover his mouth and blush. Though in some populations the reaction will be a slap on the forehead with the palm of the hand.

2) Classification

Verbal blundering could be categorised in the following main groups:

- Major verbal blunders

Verbal blunders whose consequences can range from anger to extreme sadness (in the victim of the blunder), and which will make the perpetrator wish s/he was suddenly transported under a rock, miles away. A typical example would be blundering about someone's death.

- Annoying verbal blunders

A verbal blunder which will make the perpretrator feel some degree of guilt, and which will annoy the victim. A typical example would be blundering about someone's sexual orientation.

- Jolly good verbal blunders

This type of verbal blunder is inconsequential, and will at worst provoke a bit of schadenfreude from the victim. A general reaction will instead be one of joyful embarassment for the blunderer, finding himself suddenly surrounded with general laughter. A typical example would be blundering about someone's makeup.

3) Disambiguation

Not everything stupid that comes out of your mouth should be considered as a verbal blunder. For instance I would say that the following phenomenons are not verbal blunders:

    • freudian slips ("I suck at everything I touch")
    • intentional ironic mismatches, or basically anything with "intentional" prepended to it ("heh, you look like you slept under a bridge", if perpretator knows that this is not the case). politicians for instance are known to practice carefully crafted blunders, meant to destabilise the victim, and at no embarassement cost for the perpetrator.
    • hard knowldege failures ("I'm sorry, I didn't know that Muslims don't eat pork")

  • Poll
    Do you often blunder?
    . They call me Dr. Blunder 18%
    . Chronically 63%
    . Only when I'm careless 18%
    . Extremely rarely or never 0%

    Votes: 11
    Results | Other Polls
    I didn't want to write this diary, but the words just came out uncontrollably.

    My favourite personal verbal blunder:

    Several years ago, I was at my girlfriend's place and she had invited one of her friends over (a girl). I hadn't seen her friend in a few months, and so immediately noticed that her nose looked completely different. I immediately snapped "wow your nose looks really great! superb idea to have plastic surgery!". Which it didn't (ie. didn't look great), I was only being polite and blabbering the first thing that came to mind. The girl's reaction: "I fell off a horse".

    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:45:32 AM EST
    He, He, I am the first one to recommend it, gagné.
    Always happy to read you and great mise en page BTW.

    When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
    by Agnes a Paris on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 10:34:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So any funny blunders to share with us (dismiss the parts below this, I don't want them to ruin the light tone of this diary, I was just shocked when I heard the news and saw in it a message to share with anyone around me)?

    For some reason I portray you as something of a good verbal blunderer, am I wrong? ;))

    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 10:39:07 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I almost just blundered again. Called a friend a few minutes ago, and was about to come out with a trademark lousy joke when I noticed her voice was weird. She was at another friend's house, a friend who just learned her 22 year old daughter (cute, nice, did a few parties with her) died in a car accident. The second time this friend loses a child. That added to the other fatal car accident in my sphere this week (my friend on a bicycle), serves as a sad reminder that we must live every moment of our lives as best we can, for it can/will all end up abruptly. Jesus I hate cars.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 09:50:07 AM EST
    Well, this may shred my diary's intended lightness, but I just wanted to say that people must live their lives fully, no matter what.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 09:51:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And now I just blundered by informing some friends by email of this (I wanted to share my current gut emotion that people must live their lives fully, in the light of doubled bad news), and failing to note that for one of my friends on that list, today was the 3rd anniversary of her brother's death in a car accident (my email depressed her). I'm miles away from feeling like laughing, this diary sucks, and I think the world just sucks today and that I will direct my anger at anyone who tells me that they will be taking their car for a walkable distance today.

    Fuck cars. I don't want any excuses of distance and what not. Take a fucking bus. Cars are killing us all, killing the trees, killing the Earth. Fuck cars.

    Sorry, it just had to come out. I take that back. Ambulances, family trips, handicapped people etc etc I can think of a million decent reasons for people to drive cars. It just had to come out, sorry again.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 10:11:38 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Ugh, I just realised that I wrote "heh, you look like you got hit by a car" for the "intentional ironic mismatch" example in my diary, hours before getting the news. It makes it so out of place now, let me change that with an EDIT.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 12:42:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Fully live your life, that's a good philosophy. Carpe diem, and that kind of stuff.
    Anyway, yours is one of the most original diaries I've seen so far on ET. Diversification as a powerful tool to counter General Consensus.

    When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
    by Agnes a Paris on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:04:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't know if it's original ;)

    I was going to write about peak oil but I blundered and this came out instead.

    by Alex in Toulouse on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:55:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You could very well have written about peak oil. After all, Jerome posts articles on society topics now... ;-) even if he may have blundered as well, the primary issue being government and business (see the Azar and obesity thread)

    When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
    by Agnes a Paris on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:02:12 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    a propensity towards talking before thinking

    In a college class long ago the word harrass somehow came up in the conversation.  For reasons that escape me now, the conversation took a detour into the proper pronunciation of the word.  The prof claimed the proper pronunciation would obviously be harris.  I quicky replied that I always thought it looked like her ass.  For about four heartbeats the silence was deafening.

    Some years ago my work took me into a particular electrical supply store fairly often.  The young woman behind the counter was attractive and personable but, shall we say, a bit on the pudgy side.  One day I went in the store for the first time after an absense of a couple of months.  I almost didn't recognize the young woman.  She had dropped a LOT of weight.  She looked positively svelt.  I looked at her with some concern and asked, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight.  Have you been sick?"  She didn't answer and the look she gave me didn't invite any further conversation. Later a colleague told me she had just gone through one of those expensive, doctor supervised weight loss programs.

    My wife says I have chronic foot in mouth disease.

    We all bleed the same color.

    by budr on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 12:18:26 PM EST
    I don't know how well this will translate, but I was talking to a friend's sister, and I called her "Amanda."  She corrected me and said her name was "Sarah." And I was like, are you sure?  (Obviously she knew here own name...)  She asked me why I thought her name was Amanda.
    I told her because her brother once told me she had a doll named "Amanda" which she called "Demanda" when she was little and that the doll was named after her.

    Does that make sense? He'd been remarking that she should be called "Demanda" and I didn't get it. And ended up making a fool of myself and getting him in big trouble too...


    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

    by p------- on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 02:30:05 PM EST
    The Bulgarian word for love is "obich" which in English sounds like "oh bitch" ;-). I remember once I had difficulties convincing an American that I didn't mean to offend her by using this Bulgarian word in her presence.

    And let me say that this is a great, great diary! Bravo for the idea!

    I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde

    by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:44:44 AM EST
    I've got another one just like that, but it's a little bit x-rated (warning! warning!). This friend of mine once went out with a Japanese girl, and in Japanese "hai" means "yes". Well she was saying "hai, hai" throughout the process of love-making ... and this freaked him out because in French "aie" (pronounced just about the same way as "hai") is an interjection that means "ouch" (as in "ouch that hurts").
    by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:11:50 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hahaha! Very good one- did he stop to ask her if she was all right? ;-)

    I can resist anything but temptation.- Oscar Wilde
    by Little L (ljolito (at) gmail (dot) com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 10:29:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well they went out for a few weeks, so he figured it out at some point. But he told me that even once he knew, it was still kind of disturbing.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 12:20:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hmmmm, from my own experience with Japanese girls,... (I stop here, I just remember I am one of Dr. Blunders.)

    I will become a patissier, God willing.
    by tuasfait on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 10:17:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ...dates back from a while ago: I was in my final year in my higher education and my entire family had left for a week to some destination, I can't remember where. I had been given the responsibility to take care of the parental house and the dog. Generally, the dog used to be very quiet, but at one night during that week, she decided to start barking once every two hours for some reason (I never found out why) and she'd keep going in her characteristic hoarse barks until someone came down the stairs to quiet her down. Thus, I found myself with a pretty wretched night and little sleep on school, where I had English in the first hour. My friend, sitting next to me, noticed I looked pretty haggard and I began to tell him what had happened the past night while the class was just rummaging away, waiting for the exercises to be handed out.

    It was a good tale, I thought, and I was making very life-like impersonations of my dog's barking, when it suddenly dawned on me that things had become awfully quiet around me. And when I looked up and around I found the eyes of entire class (30 something plus the teacher!!!) resting on me, and all faces carrying extremely broad grins. I managed to murmur to my friend, "Well, I guess I tell you the rest during the break...." And the teacher came to my desk and berated me privately, but highly amused...


    by Nomad (Bjinse) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 10:08:07 AM EST
    Ok can the person who voted Dr. Blunder reveal him/herself to us? We can start a few wagers on who it is in the meantime.
    by Alex in Toulouse on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 12:21:58 PM EST

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