Time to revise the concept of weather in the United States

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In the spring of 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden asserted what his policy would be regarding the Iran nuclear deal if elected: “I would join the deal and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it. After eight months in office, nothing significant has happened. Biden has also shown little ability to work with America’s closest allies on issues as fundamental as exiting Afghanistan or defining its Indo-Pacific strategy.

Knowledgeable analysts such as Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute warned earlier this year that, because the impending Iranian elections risked strengthening hard-line supporters, the Biden administration had a “short window” to deal with it. act and join the Common Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and undo the work of Donald Trump. In June, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline supporter, won the elections in Iran.


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The indirect talks, started too late to have an impact, were already at a standstill. Soon after, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken complained that the Iranians were dragging their feet. “We are committed to diplomacy,” he said, “but this process cannot go on indefinitely.”

Last week, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian for clarification. Quoting President Raisi, she began by asking the minister if Iran was determined to move forward “in a few weeks”. Americans think “time is running out”. Mitchell insisted on identifying this essence. The minister chose to respond as any Asian diplomat could.

He used the kind of indirect language that Americans usually don’t understand or with which they just lose patience. American culture expects people to call a spade a spade, even though in politics Americans seldom do so themselves, preferring deviation or even prevarication to ironic thinking.

“We have neither the opportunity nor the time,” replied the minister to his impatient interlocutor, “to sit in meetings just to drink coffee with each other. What is important to us are tangible results. He reminded Mitchell of Iran’s well-established position to challenge the Americans, who unilaterally broke the deal and applied sanctions, to cancel the sanctions as a means of getting back to normal.

Mitchell then added further pressure, citing Blinken’s position that “time is not indefinite” and asked him to “project how quickly” Iran could return to the negotiating table. The minister complained that the JCPOA had not provided any benefit to Iran for years and explained that it was “reviewing” and “evaluating” now in order to “keep the negotiating window open”. He added that “we will come back to the negotiations very soon”.

His remark provoked a new misunderstanding which was repeated in the press the next day. It was the word “soon”. Reuters reports that Amirabdollahian then explained to his countrymen on state television station IRINN the Americans’ obsession with “keeping asking how soon.” Does it mean days, weeks or months? “

He added: “The difference between Iran and the ‘soon’ Westerner is a lot. For us, “soon” really means at the first opportune moment – when our reviews (of the nuclear dossier) are completed. What is important is our determination to resume talks, but those that are serious and guarantee the rights and interests of the Iranian nation.

Today’s dictionary definition of the devil:

Time:

A measure of the relationship between identifiable events that most cultures regard as variable and flexible, but which American culture has long decided upon is a rigid, fixed system that can be translated into both monetary value (“time, it’s money ”) and a measure of morale. character of those who do not meet the deadlines.

Contextual note

At one point, Mitchell asks a question that only an American would ask: “Is time running out for Iran to be willing to return to the JCPOA?” Americans believe that everything should have a deadline or an expiration date that should be set as quickly as possible. Amirabdollahian replied: “We think diplomacy still works,” adding that if the other parties (the original six signatories) do not live up to their commitments, Iran will “not stay in the deal, fulfilling our end of the bargain.” .

According to the minister, the Iranians “think diplomacy still works”. Just like “soon”, the word “always” has a different meaning in the two cultures. Culture analysts describe Iran as a high-context culture, unlike America’s low-context culture. In a high-context culture, circumstances and context provide and complement meaning that is only superficially indicated by a word or idea.

Without context, one can never be sure of the meaning. Americans prefer to think that everything has a fixed and unambiguous definition. Not only do they call a spade a spade, but they believe it is just a spade.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Humpty Dumpty tells the eponymous heroine: “When I use a word … it means exactly what I want it to mean – no more and no less. Puzzled, Alice replies, “The question is whether you can make the words mean so many different things.” Humpty Dumpty may have a knack for confusing young girls and may even be less than utterly sincere, but he represents a high-context culture. Alice thinks like an American.

Historical Note

Since it supplanted French as a universal diplomatic language recognized at a time of the 20e century, English has become the world’s lingua franca for business and politics. One of the advantages of the British and Americans is that everyone is now required to speak a language they understand. But there are ways that using their own language prevents them from understanding what others mean when they use it.

Being monolingual often correlates with monocultural thinking. English speakers today can feel comfortable with the sound of the words they hear without even hearing the thoughts and intentions that others express with the same English words. This is what seems to be happening in the interview with Andrea Mitchell. This forced Amirabdollahian to explain something that most Americans don’t understand.

Mitchell, of course, is only doing a job of bringing a form of entertainment called current events to an audience whose expectations are known. For that, she doesn’t really need to explore the meaning. Her audience expects her to make a superficial impression designed to support her own beliefs. It is the law of the media. A deeper question to consider is its impact on foreign policy.

Biden’s foreign policy is aimed at understanding the material and psychological truth of the situation. But he’s also driven by what they know of the much more superficial expectations of the American public. An important part of their job is to please American voters, a key to being reelected.

Most Americans have probably learned at some point in their lives that the Spanish word “manana“Means” tomorrow “. Americans sometimes say they will do something tomorrow. They take it as a promise to act the next day. But they are also taught that when Mexicans promise to do something manana, it expresses a vague intention to possibly do so in the future. This stereotype allows Americans to categorize Mexicans as both unreliable and lazy.

What monolingual and monocultural Americans fail to understand is that each culture treats time and everything related to timing differently. There is no logical reason why “tomorrow”, “tomorrow, “manana, “domani” Where “Morgen“Should refer to a specific date in the calendar. In Spanish and German, “manana ” and “Morgen ” also means “morning”. These languages ​​designate the coming night as dividing the present from the future. This future can be indefinite, like “für ein besseres Morgen”- for a better future.

In South Africa, the English word “now” can also mean any time in the future, from the present moment. To put things closer to the present, people will literally say “now now”, but even then there is some leeway. As one South African noted, “We can try to explain it, the reality is you still might not have it. This is a case where English does not translate into English.

The Andrea Mitchell interview and the example of Americans joking about the Mexican “mañana” highlight the difficulty that Americans with low context – convinced that words have a fixed meaning – not only understand the concept of other people’s time. , but, more importantly, the value of time. related concepts in the minds of these people when applied to real life situations. Maybe in the area of ​​foreign policy, like cigarettes, they should be labeled as potentially dangerous to health.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. Read more of The Daily Devil’s Dictionary on Fair Observer.]

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.


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