What is this blog all about

Post a comment at the bottom of the entries whenever you want. Agree or disagree with the posts any way that gives an example of what you would say. This site is devoted to understanding everyday persuasive talk. How do we ask for what we want? What do we say when we are trying to get our way with something? Which words do we use when we really want something? When does politeness achieve desired results?

Examples are given across common persuasivetalk strategies:

(1) blunt talk, (2) direct request, (3) give a reason, (4) be polite, and (5) seek partnership.

From these examples, and examples you bring, we can share an understanding of the often delicate balance between persuasiveness and politeness.

- Poppenhusen


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Terremoto de magnitud 8.2 en el norte del paĆ­s: Alerta de tsunami

April 1, 2014 - what do you say to a man on a sailboat

off the coast of Chile when you want him

to sail further out to sea to avoid a tsunami.

Terremoto de magnitud 8.2 en el norte del país: Alerta de tsunami

A massive earthquake struck off the coast of Northern Chile on Tuesday evening prompting tsunami warnings across the Pacific coast, with evacuation ordered for the entire zone until the early hours of Wednesday morning.  The 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck around 55 miles southeast of Cuya, at 8:46 p.m. local time. So far at least 20 aftershocks with some measuring around 5 on the Richter scale have been felt in the area.

The Interior Ministry has confirmed five deaths in Iquique and surrounding areas and at least three people seriously injured so far.

Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo has 300 escapees from a women’s prison in Iquique, with initial police reports saying that 16 had been recaptured. Armed Forces personnel are reportedly on the streets of northern city to help maintain order.

Estafania Morales, whose family currently lives in Iquique, told The Santiago Times that the initial earthquake was strong and caused widespread fear in the city. “Everything is in a panic, trees fell, apparently the road linking Iquique and Alto hospicio is cracked,” Morales said Tuesday night. “Everything was falling, televisions, radios, the bathtub broke, the windows etc.”

However, for the residents in coastal northern cities the greatest concern is the possibility of a tsunami. “The real fear is because of the tsunami,” Morales said. “I have a relative who was sailing, who works as a fisherman, and he says he has been told to go farther out to sea, until later notice, this really worries us.”



Please please cooperate

November 4, 2010 - Port Au Prince - Haiti urged hundreds of thousands of homeless quake survivors to flee tent cities as Tropical Storm Tomas approached with rains that threaten to let loose devastating floods. Many Haitians, however, stayed put - either to protect their few belongings, or for lack of a better place to go to be safe.

Haiti's government urged evacuation of the emergency camps set up after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

As the skies darkened over Port-au-Prince and roof-tarps started flapping in the wind Thursday morning, a policeman at the Corail-Cesselesse camp shouted through a megaphone:

The hurricane is not a joke! ... You need to get out of here !

Survivors of the devastating earthquake have fought forced evictions, weathered storms, organized themselves into security committees, and rallied for better services and aid. Now they are being told to leave — and few have anywhere to go.

The government says more than 1,000 shelters are available, but that can refer to any building expected to stand up to high winds. Slow reconstruction from the quake, prior storms and the recent commitment of government resources to fight a growing cholera epidemic have left people with few options as overtaxed aid workers struggle to help.

We are using radio stations to announce to people that if they don't have a place to go, but they have friends and families, they should move into a place that is secure,"

said civil protection official Nadia Lochard, who oversees the department that includes the capital, Port-au-Prince.


January 21, 2009 - Los Angeles - Southern California faces perennial weather related dilemma with remnants of fall season forest fires followed by heavy rains in the winter. Unprotected hillsides can and do fall down upon the homes below. Many people do not think they need to evacuate. They want to be safe but they do not want to leave their personal household belongings behind, so they run the risk of making multiple back and forth trips to their hillside homes to gather personal belongings.

This is what the Los Angeles fire and police departments use for persuasivetalk on this day (MSNBC News video):

Please please cooperate and obey the lawful orders of your police department. If you were told to evacuate, do so.


New Orleans: Leave or face Gustaf alone

The following headline was released by the Associated Press, August 29, 2008.

NEW ORLEANS - Police with bullhorns plan to go street to street with a tough message about getting out ahead of Hurricane Gustav: This time there will be no shelter of last resort. The doors to the Superdome will be locked. Those who stay will be on their own.
And those among New Orleans' 310,000 residents who ignore orders to leave accept "all responsibility for themselves and their loved ones," said the city's emergency preparedness director, Jerry Sneed.

Federal, state, and local governments have variable levels of tolerance for storm stay-behinds, and they enforce evacuation depending on severity of the storm. Police departments do not jail someone for failing to evacuate. They do, however, issue persuasivetalk warnings and enforce road closures and curfew. Clearly, with 2006 Katrina and 2008 Gustaf storms over New Orleans, the emergency management teams wanted everyone to leave town to avoid danger.

Some residents just do not want to evacuate during a storm. They say they have been through it before and know how to ride it out. They say they want to protect personal belongings from looters. Other residents become paralyzed with uncertainty about what to do with limited access to transportation. Some people worry about their pets and horses and such things.

In 2008 the City of New Orleans gave people a reason to evacuate in a persuasivetalk voice different from Katrina warnings: Leave or face Gustaf alone. During Katrina the severity of the storm was the call to action. With Gustaf, empahsis shifted to social influence. As a group we are evacuating . . . and if you stay behind you will be alone with Gustaf and no one will be there to help you.

So what happened a few weeks later in Texas? MSNBC News, September 11, 2008, reports a different warning for fast approaching Hurricane Ike. Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas extended a mandatory evacuation. Her request is very polite.

This is a very hard call for me to make but our intent is to save lives,” she said. “We believe it is best for people to leave.

Compare this to news media one day later, September 12, in advance of Hurricane Ike headed for Galveston Texas:

 Flee Ike or face certain death.

and then the local official warning September 12 in Galveston:

Our message this morning is very simple and very tight. If you live in the evacuation zone, get out.


The Cubans perhaps do a better job of evacuating people then any other nation. They have flimsy houses that fall apart, but at least the people get out of the way. An Associated Press news article describes how Cuban hurricane evacuation plans include rehearsal drills and door to door warnings. Cuban authorities also use social influence to make personal examples of those who foolishly stay behind and perish in a storm. "Look at this guy who stayed behind," they say, "he died."

Mayors and governors do have a difficult job as they stand in nice weather the day before the storm. Weather is a slippery thing to predict. Looking at persuasivetalk above in retrospect, the mayor sounds too polite with "we believe it would best if people leave," and the national weather forecaster who warned people to "get out of town of face death" may have spoken closer to the truth.

And when they are proven wrong, because the storm moved away from the evacuation zone, there is then a lot of grumbling and talk of the "cry wolf" syndrome, leading to predictions that next time people won't be so willing to pack up and leave when ordered. So, how do we decide the balance between warning people too harsly and not warmomg  harsh enough?