full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Steven Pinker: What our language habits reveal

Unscramble the Blue Letters

The simplest example of this is in the polite request. If you ersxeps your resqeut as a conditional — "if you could open the wniodw, that would be great" — even though the content is an imperative, the fact that you're not using the imperative voice means that you're not acting as if you're in a relationship of dominance, where you could presuppose the compliance of the other person. On the other hand, you want the damn guacamole. By expressing it as an if-then statement, you can get the message across without arpniaepg to boss another person around.

Open Cloze

The simplest example of this is in the polite request. If you _______ your _______ as a conditional — "if you could open the ______, that would be great" — even though the content is an imperative, the fact that you're not using the imperative voice means that you're not acting as if you're in a relationship of dominance, where you could presuppose the compliance of the other person. On the other hand, you want the damn guacamole. By expressing it as an if-then statement, you can get the message across without _________ to boss another person around.

Solution

  1. request
  2. window
  3. appearing
  4. express

Original Text

The simplest example of this is in the polite request. If you express your request as a conditional — "if you could open the window, that would be great" — even though the content is an imperative, the fact that you're not using the imperative voice means that you're not acting as if you're in a relationship of dominance, where you could presuppose the compliance of the other person. On the other hand, you want the damn guacamole. By expressing it as an if-then statement, you can get the message across without appearing to boss another person around.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
french academy 3
relationship types 3
honest officer 3
human nature 2
cognitive machinery 2
govern human 2
container metaphor 2
concrete metaphor 2
indirect speech 2
speech acts 2
dishonest officer 2
traffic ticket 2

Important Words

  1. acting
  2. appearing
  3. boss
  4. compliance
  5. conditional
  6. content
  7. damn
  8. dominance
  9. express
  10. expressing
  11. fact
  12. guacamole
  13. hand
  14. imperative
  15. means
  16. message
  17. open
  18. person
  19. polite
  20. presuppose
  21. relationship
  22. request
  23. simplest
  24. statement
  25. voice
  26. window