Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, April 23, 2005
# 7:57:00 AM:

Brevity is the soul of rudeness

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I'm often astonished at how Joel Spolsky can make topics like statistical e-mail filtering interesting to read about—in this case, by digressing into a discussion of whether more typing leads to happier customers:

I have never been to Japan but my father, a linguist, once told me the story of the train station in Tokyo, where the announcements were made in Japanese and English. You would hear four or five minutes of nonstop Japanese and then the English translation would be "The train to Osaka is on platform 4." It seems that in Japanese there is simply no way to say something that simple without cosseting it heavily in a bunch of formal etiquette-stuff. And it turns out the same thing applies to email messages, even in English. The moral of the story is that given two email messages with the same semantic content, the terse one is more likely to come across sounding rude.


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