Coversation Etiquette [17th century fox]

Posted in artlies, nerdlette by nerdlette on 19 June 2008

A Prior Magazine in honor of its new edition release will be presenting New York Conversations, a program of art dialogues featuring prominent artists and critics. Catch is…they are going to follow 17th c. conversation rules.

I must admit this nerdlette is intrigued to try them herself.  The half purpose of this blog is to curtail my own blabbermouth…and I am pretty sure I regularly break half of these.

Participants and visitors are advised to respect the following rules :

  1. It is necessary to listen to others if one wants to have their attention
  2. Above all things and upon all occasions, avoid speaking of yourself
  3. Being over confident and peremptory does very much unfit men for conversation
  4. Avoid too excessive pedantic or technical speech (like direct interrogation, the use of imperatives and short answers such as ‘Yes’ and above all ‘No’)
  5. Adapt your conversation to the people you are conversing with
  6. Honourable people must never use a low word in their speech
  7. Subjects to avoid for men: ‘hunting, hawking and the War of the Netherlands; for women: fashionable clothes and housewifery. In general avoid talking about one’s children, telling one’s dreams or boasting of one’s nobility or riches.
  8. It is a great fault to be too fond of keeping silent
  9. Don’t talk when you eat, it makes people think you are not enjoying the food
  10. It is better to be a men of few words than a ciarlatore [ed. italian for chatterbox]
  11. No one speaks to the king during his public meals unless he addresses him first
  12. And ofcourse, whereof one cannot speak, thereof must one be silent

* see Peter Burke, The Art of Conversation in Early Modern Europe, 1993

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