Submitted by Jim Aune on October 30, 2006 - 10:07am
I had an interesting conversation on Friday with my doctoral advisee Yogita Sharma. I've been puzzling for a long time about the relationship between "persuasion" and "incitement"--I'm skeptical, like all free speech absolutists, about whether such a thing as "incitement" even exists. So I asked her how the terms play out in Hindi. Here's her answer, based on her own understanding of her native tongue, and from the standard dictionary:
1) Persuade: to influence by argument (phusalaana-this is used negatively); to
prevail on (manaana); to induce (uksaana); to explain (samjhaana-used
2) Persuasion: act of persuading (prateetikaran-rarely used word); inducement (protsahana-it doesn't mean inducement from what I know rather it means encouragement)
3) I also looked up Prateeti (Prateeti-karan=act of doing Prateeti):
knowledge, clear or distinct perception or apprehension, conviction,assurance, confidence, appearance. A more commonly used word in Hindi is Prateet which means known, evident, apparent etc.
4) Incite: to instigate (utteyjit karana-Hindi meaning similar to English)
--This is the larger, metarhetorical question that interests me: without descending into happy multiculturalism, how do we think about "persuasion" in "folk" terms, before and while we think about it academically. I was reading Salon's wonderful series on place and literature this morning while my autistic son was up at 3 and demanding to listen to Steve Earle (Daniel can't talk, but he knows his music). Naturally, I read with special interest the article on Norway. The author discusses the Eddas and Sigrid Undset (neither of which I've read, although I have my mother's copy of Kristin Lavransdatter on the shelf), and writes: "In "Voluspá," the first poem in the Elder Edda, the seeress tells Odin the ghastly sequence of events through which the world will end. Odin will be devoured by the wolf called Fenris. His doom is inescapable. But the fatalism of the Eddas requires him to accept it and fight a hopeless battle against it all the same. I sense this quality in Norwegians even now. There is an admirably unsentimental toughness to these people. We all know how life ends; we will lose everything. In the meantime, we can, if we choose, proudly and uncomplainingly resist the inevitable." All seems entirely true to me (and sounds just like my father); how would such a cultural expectation shape persuasive norms?