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ON LANGUAGE, LINGUISTICS, ACADEMIA AND INDEPENDENT SCHOLARSHIP

the rogue linguist

Thank You For the Unsolicited Advice

Or, I’m So Pleased You Bestowed on Me These Pearls of Wisdom I Neither Needed Nor Wanted

thank-you-for-unsolicited-advice

Dear stranger, thank you for the unsolicited advice on how to find a man. Especially the part about how women are too mouthy and vegetarian these days to be properly attractive. My husband got a real kick out of that!

***

Dear tangential acquaintance, let me give you some unsolicited advice. When you say to someone “New hair? Looks great!”, please, I beg you, stop there. It’s easy:  just shut your mouth after that, and don’t open it again until the conversation has moved on. Do not, under any circumstances, follow up with “Way better than it used to.”

***

Dear stranger on the tram. Boy, was I glad to be informed that my education is a thing that is very important. As it happens, I have four degrees, including a master’s and a PhD – thank you for not asking. Apparently 11 years of higher study did not age me.

***

Dear fellow expat, thank you for sending me a link to that beginner’s phrasebook you told me about at length. Great, great length. Also for the handy list of Walkabout bars in Europe – god forbid I should consume alcohol in the presence of non-Australians – and your top tips for surviving “away from home”. It is difficult to imagine how I got through the last twelve years without them.

***Thanks for the advice on how to find a man. My husband got a real kick out of that! pass it on

***

Dear professor man at the conference, thank you for suggesting those references I ought to read. I hope I didn’t take the wind out of your sails by confessing that those are my papers. You seemed a little put out after that is all.

***

To the lady who approached me at the rubbish bins to say that cardboard doesn’t go in that one. Thank you for monitoring my movements from behind your curtain then coming all the way across the street in your natty bathrobe to tell me that. I know that cardboard goes in that other one. It’s just I only have so many hands, and I need them both to do the normal rubbish first. So I’m just leaning this here cardboard against the bin for a moment. A very short moment! And look! Now that my hands are free again, I can pick it up and put it in the other bin, as I planned to do in the first place. Ta da!

***

Dear “friend”, thank you for suggesting I read A Little Life, and even gifting it to me so I felt obliged to. As you know, I consider there to be great nobility in spending my leisure time on things that make me feel suicidal. I particularly treasure the 600 pages I spent waiting for Jude to cark it only to find his boyfriend being run over by a truck instead. Oh I’m sorry, had you not finished it yet?

***

Dear man from the municipality, thank you for the tips on how I ought to give birth to my child. I really enjoyed discussing my vagina with you. Also, I am so glad to have learnt about breastfeeding from you; without our pleasant little chat I would have had no idea that was a thing.

 

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Alison Edwards PhD

I am a linguistics researcher, translator, editor, writer, and lover of tennis, infrastructure, and collared shirts done all the way up. Read more

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