|Date:||Saturday, May 15, 1999, 13:42|
John Cowan <cowan@...> wrote:
> The American anthropologist Edward A. Hall classified cultures into
> multitasking and unitasking (though he uses different terms). He
> classifies the French as "officially unitasking, in practice
> multitasking". For comparison, Hispanics are extremely multitasking,
> Germans extremely unitasking, Americans almost as unitasking as Germans
> in his day (1940s), but in our time becoming more multitasking.
> The stereotypes are that unitaskers are compulsive and fanatical,
> whereas multitaskers are slipshod and have no notion of punctuality.
> It was a German preschool teacher who charged me $1/minute for being late in
> collecting my child; if a Hispanic housecleaner shows up 20 minutes late,
> that's routine.
Although stereotypes may offend someone, I have to say the
"multitasking Hispanic" one is probably useful to describe
a lot of people. In Argentina, there's a tendency to announce
the times for meetings and parties by giving a half-hour slice
(for example "Come at nine or nine thirty"), and most people
usually choose the lat(t)er time plus ten or fifteen minutes...
Being a compulsively punctual person, that behaviour makes me
mad, but most people here don't seem to grasp the concept of
arriving in time. I was amazed to hear that in Japan, for example,
apologies are asked to people in subway stations when the service
is ten minutes late (I heard that; I don't know if it's true,
but it wouldn't surprise me).
In Argentina, a predominantly Hispanic country, showing up late
is "fashionable"; showing up at the right time is weird and
sometimes it gets antisocial and uncomfortable (when, for example,
you come to your friend's birthday party at the time s/he
told you, and s/he's still deciding what to wear :).