A very interesting post by Gakuranman on the art of verbal warfare in Japan. As he correctly points out, politics is one subject that may not be an advised topic of discussion in Japan, especially if it deals with the US military bases or the lack of (and I mean, nil, zilch, nada, nothing) information on Japan’s plan to build a base in Africa. Anyway, mix in cultural differences when arguing and Gakuranman says that you have a recipe for disaster. He writes:

In a recent scuffle over the controversial whaling issue, I managed to seriously offend a couple of Japanese friends. So here’s some insight to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Gakuranman asks the reader to “begin by thinking about a style of speech, in particular the dialectic method present in both Eastern and Western philosophy.” I should add that many arguments rarely see the best alternative to a negotiate agreement since, like negotiations, one party typically wants to come out on top in some shape or form. At least that’s what they expected during Western negotiations.

Anyway, keeping the dialectic method in mind and considering the linguistic nuances in  Japanese plus  the seemingly socially ingrained habit of  “Start – Continue – Change – Conclusion” or Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu (起承転結), in which

“the supporting points loop around the main point without creating a linear argument. These points are intended to only obliquely reference the main point, it is up to the reader to infer how this relates to the main thesis. There is no firm conclusion, only an ambiguous ending that may point to several possible outcomes.”

The same pattern is used to arrange arguments! See the diagram and the blurb below for more on this topic during negotiations (controlled arguments) in various languages:

“The cultural component of communication has become the subject of study in a hybrid field called contrastive rhetoric. Scholars in this area often use Kaplan’s diagram (Box 1) to explain international negotiations in business. Perhaps it is useful because paragraphing strategies reflect cultural styles. In countries whose languages derive from old German–including German, Dutch, and English–negotiation styles tend to be linear and direct. (Campbell)”

While your are contemplating the doodles above, click here to dive inside the blog known as Gakuranman. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his post on why the pen is mightier than the sword (read the post, you’ ll get it)! Me? Now fading to Black and wondering if circular logic is the key to understanding or the lack of it?!