he always says what shouldn't be said

Deborah White

Senior Member
Korean Korea
Hello,

I have 2 questions here.

1, I wonder do you native English speakers have such an expression. Since this is related with culture, not pure language stuff, I post this question under the subbranch of 'cultural discussion'.

(this expression is often used in my place) -----
He always says what shouldn't be said, and doesn't say what should be said.


2, Do you native English-speaking people feel there are certain things you simply cannot say in public places, although you can say that in private?

But honesty is such a valued quality (almost in any culture in people's lives, not in front of the public), how can one excuse oneself if one says yes to the above question?

Thanks for your attention!
 
  • palomnik

    Senior Member
    English
    This could be a long topic with lots of opinions. I guess simply stated, honesty doesn't really have much to do with it.

    Some things may be cruel and hurtful, even if true, and shouldn't be said in a certain context. On other occasions, people need to hear certain things, and if they don't hear them they can be hurt or offended.

    I don't know how to be more clear about it than that.
     
    "He always speaks his mind" is one relevant English saying.


    There is a complete spectrum of views about it in Britain. Some people are very circumspect about what they say in public, or in any company at all; while others speak out regardless of any conventions about being discreet.
     

    Stumpy457

    Senior Member
    English--American
    And there are some (like myself) who don't ever shut up...! ;) I think 'He always puts his foot in his mouth' is closer to the meaning of the original statement (He always says what shouldn't be said, and doesn't say what should be said).
     

    EmilyD

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    There is an expression:

    "Say what you mean,
    Mean what you say, and
    Don't say it mean[ly]"...

    Also an acronym: T.H.I.N.K.:

    Before speaking, ask these questions:

    Is it Thoughtful, Honest? Is it Necessary? ...Kind?

    N;)mi
     

    awillia

    Member
    USA-Amerenglish
    How about the age old advice from mothers and teachers: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

    2, Do you native English-speaking people feel there are certain things you simply cannot say in public places, although you can say that in private?

    But honesty is such a valued quality (almost in any culture in people's lives, not in front of the public), how can one excuse oneself if one says yes to the above question?

    Thanks for your attention!
    I'd like to address this question because I'm not sure the issue is honesty. Perhaps it is avoidance of conflict.

    Here in the USA we have this concept of being "PC", which stands for "politically correct". See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness. When you're with anyone other than family or very close friends, you try to avoid conflict over certain issues (for example, race, sexual orientation, religion...) I know other cultures use this concept as well, although I do not know to what degree.

    I think this is how terms such as "African American" came to be. Calling someone "black" became an insult. Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction and it's okay to use "black" to refer to someone's race, although as a (white) teacher, I still am uncomfortable. The last thing I want to do is offend a student. Just this morning I was discussing a TV show with students of several races, and I was describing one of the characters, doing my little linguistic dance of avoiding skin color. One of my African American students piped up and said, "Oh, the black nurse?".

    In fact, one of my family members is offended by the term "African American". He says, "Were they born in Africa?" Otherwise, we (my family) would call ourselves German Americans, which we don't. Many "African" Americans have been here longer than my family, who immigrated in the 1880's.

    I hope I haven't strayed too far from the original theme, but I think "PC" as avoidance of conflict ties to the expression I gave above.
     
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    almir

    Senior Member
    spanish - (spain )
    Proverbio:
    Cada persona es dueña de sus silencios y esclavo de sus palabras.
     

    Deborah White

    Senior Member
    Korean Korea
    Hi, everyone here. I posted the question last year, then I paid several return visits. Now I thought I knew how to address the problem. Sometimes language is just confusing. It cannot lead you to the key point.

    Some people here mentioned about "race, sexual orientation, religion or even politics". These areas are certainly dangerous or controversial zones, we need to be very careful and skilled, avoid making radical judgements. As politeness is concerned, I think that's not a big problem. For if you said something improper but without consciousness, you don't feel bad. Politenss is very logical, everyone needs others' respect, so you will do the same to others.

    What I was and am still really concerned is 'personal stuff', esp when others offend you, with or without consciousness, we get so indignant that we want to argue with him in public and we believe we can have an easy win. But winning an argument needs skill, even if one is the offened, hurt side. A skilled offender can turn out to have more reason. They can make you feel as if the offend is neglectable.

    So the title is actually some sincere friends' opinion concerning their friend's poor ability in arguing when offended or insulted. What he said is basically, sometimes the insulted have to be more skilled in arranging the details and managing your tone in order to win the shameless guy, who usually have better ability in communication. (Because in most cases it is the cunning people that dare to disobey principles.)

    But I feel that's not all either. Even if there is no argument, only talk or conversation, I may disclose my opions to someone who turns out to be unreliable.

    All in all, that's the problem of environment.
     
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