A total of eight years of studying French; three years in high school, three years in public school (which sounds ooh, la, la, but wasn’t; the grade school teacher rolled the TV into the classroom for 15 minutes, three times a week and we’d learn French via our local PBS station), and seventh and eighth grade French classes equaled another year of high school French. Eight years and mostly I just remember how to curse. In French.
But when I’m in France for a few days, I (foolishly) try to converse with my remembered basic words. After a wonderful meal, I said tres bien, feeling oh so brilliant. The French friends we were with tried to help me see my error by explaining the difference between tres bien and tres bon. To show proper delight for the meal, I should have said tres bon. The restaurant could be tres bien but the meal had to be tres bon.
These people know I can’t speak French, but the difference was important enough for them to attempt to teach me. Nuance always makes a difference.
Which got me thinking about the words we choose to use in email and the important nuances that we ignore. Nuances that help the reader to understand both our intent and our content.
Words matter. It’s a respect thing.
Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas one and all.