Questions and Answers on But What Do You Mean by Deborah Tannen

Questions and Answers on But What Do You Mean by Deborah Tannen

1. What is Tannen’s purpose in writing this essay? What does she hope it will accomplish?

From what I gathered Tannen’s purpose was for us to comprehend the importance of communication in the work field. How the simplest verbal functions can be interpreted in many different ways. “Conversation is a ritual” I find so much meaning behind these four simple words, the article in its entirety are summed up by these word. Tannen wants to enlighten us to remember that our words are powerful. I believe she wants us to take back control over what we say. We are as infants and Deborah is as our mother, giving us our first words. Not to mention it seems as if she wants to open up the doors for men and women not only in the work place but in their homes; to become more aware and willing to really communicate with one another.

2. What does Tannen mean when she writes, “Conversation is a ritual”?
To interpret what she said I will try, to be precise I cannot say. Ritual is a word commonly used to describe costumes that continue to portray. My dad would say to me oh you’re doing your ritual of putting on your face. Deborah means that the way one talks is a sort of a habit, never changing unless we intentionally hold back on what we say or may say. By saying ritual she is showing that communication like rituals are instilled and influenced by your upbringing, environment, people around you, place of origin, and not to forget the people you associate with. She is giving her reader a powerful statement by using a metaphor that helps depict her thesis.

3. What does Tannen see as the fundamental difference between men’s and women’s conversational strategies?
She states there are many different aspects to how men and women communicate. Yet there seem to be an underlying consensus that men never want to feel they are at the bottom of the conversation. Women on the other hand don’t mind as long as there is “give and take” in the conversation. Deborah literates “The logic is that when you are challenged you will rise to the occasion” she goes on to say “common among women are designed to take the other person feelings into account”. Let me elaborate into what I believe her meaning is behind these two sentences. Men, even in speech have to feel as if they are concurring or being triumphant with the words, so they may feel superior and show no weaknesses. Women by nature are compelled to be compassionate even when they know it is a one sided street and they may be more compelled to chose their words wisely rather than speak bluntly.

4. Why is “You’re welcome” not always an appropriate response to “Thank you”?
Well there are a lot of scenarios when “you’re welcome” may not be well reciprocated by a person. To me we say “you’re welcome” to be gracious about a gesture we just did for another. It also lets the person feel and know that the gesture was no big deal and you were glad to help. In the instance where it is referred to in the article I find it being the wrong use of words, mostly because she is the one who made the gesture by responding in a quick fashion so he or she could revise and insert the novelist’s changes for her novel. We must understand that to say “your welcome” is as if you are saying yeah known you owe me because I did you a favor.

This question brings to mind a time when I felt that “you’re welcome” was out of place and it upset me. Well let me tell you one time when I opened the door for a lady with a stroller and she said thanks I responded with “of course no problem your welcome.” Nothing strange about this commonly exchanged between strangers; then as she moved through the door way with the stroller she found it to be a tight squeeze with me holding the door and the big stroller. I noticed when she was pushing her way into the store she had to tilt the stroller to avoided hitting me, once through the door she looks at me as if wanting for me to say something after a split second she states “you’re welcome.” It puzzled me on why she thought I owed her thanks after standing there with the door open to help her. I believe that “you’re welcome” does not work in this instance due to me not having to hold the door open but willing to and her acting as if tilting the stroller to avoid me was a favor she did to me. If I would not have opened the door there would have been no need for her to tilt the stroller over.

Questions on Writing Strategy

1. The essay has a large cast of characters: twenty-three to be exact. What function do these characters serve? How does Tannen introduce them to the reader? Does she describe them in sufficient detail?
In various degrees she is using their experience to provide her analyses with common communication interactions among individuals. Thus these caricatures provide us with insight to flaws that we all may relate to, it gave me ample examples on how she came to classify these areas of difficult in communication between a male and a female. There are different ways Deborah went about introducing these individuals through the article, however I see two common threads in these introductions. I found that she refers to herself in relation to these characters; she puts you in the scene of where the conversation happened before showing the differences in how the sexes interacted in areas of speech. Tannen does not describe the characters in great detail as they are only a point of reference to here short stories. There would be no liable information if she was to further her detail of the character. This is not the emphasis of the article therefore only the pertinent information is needed.

2. Whom does Tannen see as her primary Audience? Analyze her use of the pronoun you in paragraphs 9 and 19. Whom does she seem to be addressing here? Why?
Deborah wrote this article for the general public, students, and scholars alike. This article focuses on a topic that should be read and thought about by everyone. To me it seems that this article could benefit women who need a confident boost in speaking up. To men who just don’t get why it is that what they said made their co-worker angry or made their wife cry. “You” on paragraph nine is referring to the audience whomever it may be reading the article at the time. Tannen is giving us something to ask ourselves, pulling her audience in by having them interact with questions directed towards them. Paragraph nineteen the pronoun is as well referencing to us the readers, however this you is more or less inferring to the female audience. Deborah seems to be not only having her audience pulled into the article but she re-illiterates that nowhere does she say every woman or men for that difference
fall under the same pretence as all of their genders.

3. Analyze how Tannen develops the category of apologies in paragraphs 4-9. Where does she use example, definiton, and comparison and contrast?
In this particular calcification category Tannen developed it by analyzing what are the main areas of confusion, differences, and common communication when it comes to the opposite sex. She also had to see that apologies go hand in hand with the fighting category. Deborah uses an example to reinforce her thoughts in paragraph four and once again in paragraph seven. Both pertain to the use of “I’m sorry” however; the context in which these words are being used gives insight to different aspect of how those words may be interpreted. She defines the real meaning of each genders use towards the phrase “I’m sorry.” She uses comparison and contrast throughout her entire article and she does it only a certain way; by using examples with people she previously interviewed and using their experiences to compare and contrast. In the apology section she compares and contrasts apologizing too much and none at all.

Questions on Language

1. What is the effect of “I put her out of her misery” (par. 11)? What does this phrase usually mean?
The effect of “I put her out of her misery” in this paragraph was to make the editor come to a final point that she seemed to be dancing around. It was to end the fact that this editor was trying to be softer instead of more direct. This phrase usually means that there was someone who was in any type of
misery and was in need for you to end it. Whether it pertained to physical or emotional misery and you put them out of it.

2. What does Tannen mean by a “right-between-the-eyes style” (par. 12)?
What Tannen is trying to say when she says “right-between-the-eyes style” she is using this as a metaphor to explain a more direct style. Usually when you hit something or someone right between the eyes or on target it is referred to as “bull’s eye” indicating perfect hit or perfect shot. Tannen is just trying to contrast between the way each gender makes use of their delivery in suggestions or criticism.

3. What is the effect of Tannen’s use of figurative verbs, such as “barking” (par. 11) and “erupted” (20)? Find at least one other example of the use of a verb in a non-literal sense.
Tannen’s effect on the use of the word “barking” was to further show impact on the way that her editor at the time who was male delivered news of his disapproval towards her paper. The use of the verb “erupted” in this article was to show the effect that these women had all of their emotions just rushing out of their mouths at once. They were asked and they told, they might have said too much perhaps, but this was the way they came out as not so soft spoken anymore.

Important Words in this Essay and Their Definition

Self-deprecating – to make derogatory comments about oneself.

Tentativeness – not a final idea, cautious in actions or way of speech.

Intrinsically – the real value from the core, more literal (absolute) value.

Malcontent – unsatisfied, unhappy, miserable; always wanting something more.