Being blind, I often request assistance when crossing busy roads. A couple of days ago I stood at a busy crossing in London’s Victoria Street. When a gentleman approached I asked “can you give me a hand please?” When he answered in the affirmative I thanked him and took hold of his arm just above the elbow.
“That’s my elbow”, he said offering me his hand. I explained that it was, in fact his arm I required and we crossed the road together.
During our short transit across the road and into Victoria station, my companion mentioned that he was from Norway. His command of English was excellent. However the misunderstanding which arose when I requested “a hand” made me realise how those brought up in a country/familiar with it’s culture use expressions, on a regular basis without considering whether they will be understood by the person with whom they are communicating.
As many of you will be aware, “To give a hand” has 2 meanings:
1. To provide assistance and
2. To applaud/clap a person/group of people.
There are doubtless many other expressions which I use on a daily basis without giving any thought as to whether my meaning will be correctly interpreted. In future I shall try to remember to ask “can you help me cross the road please?” which is a wholly unambiguous request.
I would be interested to here from my readers (both here in the UK and abroad) regarding their experiences of using commonly employed expressions and being misunderstood.
A fascinating piece in “The Guardian” regarding the Future Libraries Project, where authors submit a manuscript which is securely stored and only read in 100 years from now (2114). The ceremony for handing over manuscripts takes place in a Norwegian forest who’s trees will be cut down in 100 years time to make paper on which the books submitted to the project will be printed. The latest author to hand over his manuscript is David Mitchell.
For the article please visit https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/30/david-mitchell-buries-latest-manuscript-for-a-hundred-years
A study conducted on behalf of Norway’s government found that the prohibition on paying for sex with prostitutes works. According to the study the ban has not seen an increase in violence against prostitutes and has led to a reduction in the number of those paying for sex. The ruling Coalition had favoured repealing the ban on paying for sex, introduced in 2009 but stated that this was dependent on the findings of the independent study. For the article please visit http://www.firstpost.com/world/norways-closely-watched-prostitution-ban-works-study-finds-1659951.html.
A number of prostitutes organisations and individual prostitutes argue that the ban on paying for sex (clients are criminalised but not the prostitutes) makes the lives of sex workers more dangerous as clients are more nervous, are less inclined to provide personal details and wish to meet in out of the way places to avoid detection by the authorities. Some human rights activists also believe that banning paying for sex runs counter to human rights as adults have a right to freely buy and sell sexual services. Thus far I can find no reaction to the report sighted above but there will, over the coming days be those who will dispute it’s findings.
Of the Nordic countries Iceland, Sweden and Norway operate total bans while Finland makes it an offence to pay for sex with a person who was forced into prostitution irrespective of whether the person paying was aware that coercion had taken place. There have been calls for the UK to adopt the so-called Nordic Model, however governments have been reluctant to introduce a ban although various laws do restrict the buying and selling of sex. In the UK prostitutes organisations such as the English Collective of Prostitutes oppose a ban while the All Party Parliamentary Group On Prostitution recently called for the adoption of the Nordic Model as did the European Parliament. Many sex worker activists say that their opposition to the Nordic Model is being disregarded putting lives at risk while proponents of a ban counter by saying that many sex worker organisations are controlled by “pimps” and are not representative of what they term “prostituted” people. This debate is sure to run and run.
An interesting post on Feminist Current entitled Being and Being Bought: An interview with Kajsa Ekis Ekman. The author is a supporter of the Nordic model of prostitution law under which clients are punished. For the interview please visit http://feministcurrent.com/8514/being-and-being-bought-an-interview-with-kajsa-ekis-ekman/.
The views expressed in the above interview are diametrically opposed to those set out in my post of 28 March in which 2 academics argue that the Nordic model of prostitution law reform does not do what it says on the tin (I.E. it fails to protect those engaged in sex work and actually harms prostitutes), http://newauthoronline.com/2014/03/28/the-nordic-model-of-prostitution-law-reform-is-a-myth-a-post-on-the-conversation-argues/).
I haven’t read Ekman’s book (one more weighty tome to add to my ever growing list of “must reads”). I am, however a little concerned regarding the (apparent) comments policy of Feminist Current. The overwhelming majority of the comments on the interview with Ekman endorse her perspective and comments in respect of other posts are, by and large non-critical of the blogger’s message. I usually wouldn’t comment on the comments policy adopted by other bloggers however having attempted to comment several times only to see my comments not appear I have reached the conclusion that Feminist Currentt only (or largely) accepts comments which endorse it’s ideological perspective. If this is, indeed the case then it is a great pity as it is through debate, the cut and thrust of differing opinions that democracy lives. The only comments I have ever not approved are those which clearly belong in the spam queue for debate is one of the things which makes blogging interesting. I don’t want newauthoronline to become a blog where debate is curtailed but other bloggers appear to think differently.