Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some thoughts on Intolerance

It wasn't an Aspergers Spectrum Disorder which prompted this post today but it was an equally unusual incident which made me think about the wider implications of intolerance.

We're all familiar with the concept of intolerance. Generally it's applied to people of different races, religions or sexual persuasions. Sometimes, as is sometimes the case with religion, the quality which is "intolerable" is chosen rather than unavoidable. Usually however, the victim has no control over their status. Sometimes, even the qualities which appear chosen are unavoidable. Young children, for example, cannot choose their religion separately from their parents. In this sense, although a religious difference is usually a choice, it's clearly unavoidable for many people.

Intolerance deals with the way our own behavior towards others makes them feel unhappy.

There are so many levels to intolerance which range from simple dislike through to full blown genocide. All are examples of intolerance and all although the range is wide, the path from one type of intolerance to another is relatively short.


How Aspies Sometimes Convey Feelings of Intolerance
Although I started this post intending to talk about intolerance towards people with ASDs, I think it's important to accept the fact that people with ASDs can also be intolerant. It is after all, a human condition. I'm not going to go into depth about normal intolerance from aspies - I think it's the same as it is for NTs. Instead, I want to look at the ways in which the reactions of people with aspergers syndrome can sometimes be wrongly interpreted as intolerance;

  • Social Cues: People against whom acts of intolerance are frequently perpetrated develop self-esteem issues and will see intolerance everywhere - even where it is not intended. Sometimes the eye contact issues or the lack of social interaction on the part of people with aspergers, can mislead people into thinking that they are disliked. If the other person has self-esteem issues, they will generally take this as a sign of intolerance.

  • Directness: Aspies usually don't attempt to "beat about the bush" when discussing issues. Directness is our main approach. Hence, aspies can sometimes make comments about a person's appearance without intending harm. For example asking someone directly about a skin blemish or remarking on other aspects of their appearance or heritage. These are not usually intended as insults but they almost always end up being taken as such.

  • The Use of Outdated Language: Aspies often have a wider vocabulary than most people. They love new words and are always keen to try them out in discussion. This doesn't usually cause too many problems when a rarely used word is simply unknown to other people but sometimes words which are no longer used, aren't being used for a reason.

    This is particularly true of a variety of racial slurs. I can remember using them as a kid without intending harm, simply using a new word from a novel like Huckleberry Finn. In some cases, I'm probably lucky to still be alive. I know that my parents were often shocked and embarrassed by the things I said.

  • Special Interests: There's no denying that the special interest is one of the main driving forces of aspie behaviour. Imagine the consequences when an aspie with a special interest in the holocaust begins talking to someone from Germany, or a Jewish person. Similarly, aspies with a fixation on health can cause great offence to people with weight issues.

Intolerance towards People with ASDs
There are lots of different ways in which intolerance can be expressed without resorting to physical harm. As parents of children on the spectrum - or as people on the spectrum ourselves, we need to keep an eye out for the less obvious forms of intolerance. It's a steep and slippery slope from the minor to major forms of intolerance and the only solution is an intolerance of intolerance itself.

Some of the less obvious forms of intolerance towards people on the spectrum include;
  • Exclusion, from games, playgroups, teams, employment and organisations.
  • Name calling, teasing and all other forms of bullying
  • Curebie Hassling and Disciplinarian Hassling
I really want to touch on the two types of "hassling";
  • Disciplinarian Hassling: This is where a person who doesn't really believe in autism thinks that all a child needs is a good smack. The kinds of people who engage in this often say things like "give me a week with him and I'll have him behaving".

    These people are very dangerous and violent. It's probably true that you curb a lot of bad behaviors through violence but it isn't a good idea. The traumatic side-effects of negative behavior modification have far-reaching consequences and can in fact make it more difficult for children to lead normal lives.

  • Curebie Hassling: This is also a very dangerous practice. On the one hand, there is an effort to remove all autistic traits from the gene pool by aborting babies who show signs of the condition. Often the "culling" is unnecessary because the results aren't accurate. I have friends who were told that their child had a 90% chance of downs syndrome but their child is completely unaffected.

    Even if it were possible to be entirely accurate, who's to say that we have the right to deny these children life? So much of modern science has been developed by people on the spectrum that it seems they have specific roles in society. Remove the deep thinkers and you potentially remove innovation from society as a whole.

    Then there's the other side of curebie hassling. The side that deals with children and adults who have already been born. In this case, people have identified them as different and not to be tolerated. They've put them into institutions, drug and disciplinary programs - all with the aim of making them "normal".

    Quite often, the worst curebie hasslers of adults and children on the spectrum are the child's parents themselves. It must be a very painful thing to not be accepted by ones own family. Surely, when everyone else around you is being intolerant, the one place you should be able to find acceptance is at home.

Acceptance instead of Intolerance
The problem is that people with differences, regardless of whether they are colour, race, religion, sexuality, biological, appearance or neruological all suffer at the hands of the "majority". They are aware of their differences and often feel compelled to hide them. This isn't always possible. Sometimes they express the desire to be normal.

People with a difference generally know that they are different. They live with their differences everyday and with the constant disapproving stares and unthinking discriminations of others. They need no reminding of their differences. Simply acceptance.

If the problem were racial for instance, modern social values would suggest that the affected person stop "trying to be white" and instead understand that there is no difference. We are all the same and all as good as each other. The problem in black/white prejudice isn't that a black person is the wrong colour but rather that a particular white person has not accepted them.

This is true for people on the spectrum too. The problems don't lie with the person on the spectrum but in the intolerance of others for that person's differences.

Disclaimer: I've deliberately stayed away from the original reasons for this topic so as not to upset anyone. I've used race in several examples here only because it's probably the best understood form of intolerance. I hope I haven't offended anyone but if I have, my apologies are most assuredly offered.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I very very much feel I have aspergers. My niece has been i dunno questioned or considered to possibly have a form of Autism. Now i've told people this and they are like "no way, you don't have it, people with autism have seizures, etc etc" and of course i'm like not all do, not all do this that etc. Well, then they tell me which I can't remember everything, but they will come up with something else that someone with autsim does (at this time I said i might be autistic) and I will say "you are right i don't do that". So I would accept I don't have it. I didn't want to have it, because I felt that would mean my social situations would never improve (which i'm always always beating myself up about). I can socialize but i'm always wondering if I am sitting right, should i be looking at this, where should i look, where should i put my hands, how long do i stay still and am i staring too long at this person? Even people i've known forever sometimes I can be uncomfortable around. That's just the beginning of it. Anyway, if you want to reply to my comment I will look back to see if you do....thanks.

Antolak said...

We have a group of primary school children, most of whom are on the autistic spectrum. They have produced a new blog about themselves, their dreams, their stories, lives, artwork, photos. All the content is purely by and about themselves, showing a unique insight into their lives. This is a fun blog.
Pay them a visit and leave a comment. They would LOVE it.

http://deanburnep.primaryblogger.co.uk/

Anonymous said...

"...Sometimes the eye contact issues or the lack of social interaction on the part of people with aspergers, can mislead people into thinking that they are disliked. If the other person has self-esteem issues, they will generally take this as a sign of intolerance..."

Good point, especially since even NTs don't have ESP and have to assume one actually means the verbal and nonverbal messages one sends.

Given that NTs outnumber people with ASDs, when someone looks just like and sounds just like an NT displaying signs of not tolerating you then this person probably is an NT who doesn't tolerate you instead of a person with an ASD giving the wrong impression by accident.

If you assume that he or she meant those signs and doesn't tolerate you but he or she actually does tolerate you, then he or she doesn't get to hang out with you.

If you assume that he or she didn't mean those signs and does tolerate you but he or she actually doesn't tolerate you, then he or she gets more of an opportunity to seriously hurt you.

It's OK to assume that people mean what they say (in both words and nonverbal signals) and to try to lower the odds of your getting hurt!

"...Directness: Aspies usually don't attempt to 'beat about the bush' when discussing issues. Directness is our main approach. Hence, aspies can sometimes make comments about a person's appearance without intending harm. For example asking someone directly about a skin blemish or remarking on other aspects of their appearance or heritage. These are not usually intended as insults but they almost always end up being taken as such.

The Use of Outdated Language: Aspies often have a wider vocabulary than most people. They love new words and are always keen to try them out in discussion. This doesn't usually cause too many problems when a rarely used word is simply unknown to other people but sometimes words which are no longer used, aren't being used for a reason.

"This is particularly true of a variety of racial slurs. I can remember using them as a kid without intending harm, simply using a new word from a novel like Huckleberry Finn. In some cases, I'm probably lucky to still be alive. I know that my parents were often shocked and embarrassed by the things I said...

"...Some of the less obvious forms of intolerance towards people on the spectrum include;Exclusion, from games, playgroups, teams, employment and organisations..."

What about when a black child doesn't want to invite a classmate to his birthday party after that other child called him a nigger?

What about when a hiring manager doesn't want to work with an interviewee after that job applicant talked about the manager's breast size instead of just the job during the interview?

proudmom said...

We homeschool our 8-year-old son with Asperger's because the school system was all about making him conform through restraint and time-outs. Even the therapies out there are intended to "cure" his Asperger's. We love him and his quirky brilliance and wouldn't change a thing. Sure wish the world at large would try to understand that.

Rachel said...

Gavin, I fully support your views about intolerance, but I have to take issue with the following regarding the possibility of prenatal screening for autism:

"Even if it were possible to be entirely accurate, who's to say that we have the right to deny these children life? So much of modern science has been developed by people on the spectrum that it seems they have specific roles in society. Remove the deep thinkers and you potentially remove innovation from society as a whole."

I think it's very ill-advised to justify our existence by pointing to our achievements or to our usefulness to society. Not everyone on the spectrum is a deep thinker or an innovator. Most of us are just doing the best we can to get through the day. I used to think that I was the sum of my achievements; that's when I was young and thought I could power through anything. Now I realize that I am autistic and that I have inherent worth as a human being, whether I live a life the society values or not. I work hard to value who I am, without condition, and so I must also work to value the inherent worth of each person.

Gavin Bollard said...

Thanks Rachel,

I wasn't going to get into ethical issues here but it's obvious I need to clarify a couple of points (thanks for pointing them out to me).

You're absolutely right to suggest that we shouldn't attempt to justify our existence based on our achievements. That road only leads to disappointment. It's the sort of path that people take when they say "I've wreaked my life" - and it's a common excuse for suicidal behaviour.

There's no such thing as a "wreaked life", there is always redemption.

I was using high achieving examples like Einstein and Edison merely to demonstrate that these were lives which some people today would have considered terminating in the womb on the basis of a label.

Sometimes the easiest way to get a point across is to use the most extreme examples.

Every life is sacred and every life contributes to humanity. There is no such thing as "waste".

True, not everyone on the spectrum is a deep thinker or a savant. We know that's a myth. We do know however that everyone on the spectrum brings about changes for both good and bad, in those around them.

Every single life has meaning.

eaucoin said...

After I married and before I had children on the spectrum, my husband came home from a seminar at his workplace and told me that it had been about how every company needs somebody like me. When I asked what he meant, he told me that most people conform to the way things are routinely done without question. The object of the seminar had been to help people see the value of the ones who question and attempt to change things. According to the seminar, a company needs people like this to remain dynamic. At the time, I felt the sting of being thought of as a "troublemaker" and was not pleased with this backhanded compliment. Twenty years later I would like to know how can I get everybody else to take that seminar, and possibly where I can sign my husband up to take it again.

RobinCo said...

I stumbled upon your blog after searching Asperger's + depression on Google. You write well and I'll be back to read more.

It is painful enough to go through school being shunned by your classmates. When your teachers (or other authority figures) reject you as well, the emotional toll is multiplied. I grew up in the 1960s when Asperger's was unknown. However deficient my ability to "read" others, I was very much aware of the disdain and outright hostility from several of my grade school teachers. I continued to have such difficulties through the years until I dropped out of college. I never knew why they hated me and could only conclude that there was something wrong with me. (Well, there was but I didn't understand that then.) Compounding that problem was the fact that various aptitude tests indicated I should have been functioning at a much higher level, leading my instructors to think I was merely a lazy troublemaker. As a result, I spent much of my adult life at a menial job, thinking I could do no better. So you are correct when you say we should be acutely aware of the effects of our intolerance on others. In the case of youngsters with autistic spectrum disorders, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. I certainly hope that educators today are more aware than they were when I was growing up.

Anonymous said...

"...I was using high achieving examples like Einstein..."

Einstein didn't act like the people with ASD you describe.

http://www.theeinsteinfile.com/

"...Unlike the popular image of Einstein as an absentminded, head-in-the-clouds genius, he was in fact intensely interested in the larger society and felt it was his duty to use his worldwide fame to help advance the cause of social justice. Einstein was a fervent pacifist, socialist, internationalist, and an outspoken critic of racism (he considered racism America's 'worst disease'), as well as a friend of celebrated African Americans Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois. Einstein dared to use his immense prestige to denounce Joseph McCarthy at the height of the feared senator's power, and publicly urged witnesses to refuse to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)..."

http://www.einsteinonrace.com/reviews.htm

"Albert Einstein's hound-dog face and unruly white hair were well known in Princeton, where he lived the last decades of his life. He was an icon of science, peace and general intellectual pursuits. Less well known, though, are his writings about race, and how living in Princeton, with its vibrant middle-class African-American community, influenced him in what were then progressive racial views.

"A new book, 'Einstein on Race and Racism' (Rutgers University Press, $23.95) by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, is a pithy story about Einstein and his somewhat obscured life as an advocate of civil rights. Mr. Jerome, whose book 'The Einstein File' (St. Martin's Griffin, 2002) detailed J. Edgar Hoover's obsession with finding negative things about Einstein, and Mr. Taylor, a New York librarian who has written about jazz and early African-American life in New York, describe Mr. Einstein's friendship with the famous Princeton native Paul Robeson, who was pilloried by the right for his political views during the cold war. Mr. Einstein also corresponded with W. E. B. Du Bois, whose writings in the early 20th century about racial discrimination influenced later civil rights advocates. 'Racism is America's worst disease,' Einstein once wrote to Mr. Du Bois. 'This prejudice is still alive and powerful.'..."

http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/einstein/global/civil.php

"...Einstein, who had experienced anti-Semitic discrimination in pre-World War II Germany, noticed with dismay the problem of American racism on one of his first trips to the United States. After he settled in Princeton in 1933, he worked with a number of leading civil rights activists and *spoke out often against racial and ethnic discrimination.* Although Einstein is not usually remembered for his commitment to civil rights, he was devoted to the cause, commenting that 'in the last analysis, everyone is a human being.'..."

Definitely *not* someone who keps accidentally insulting other people, was deficient in abilities to "read" others, etc.

Anonymous said...

"...People against whom acts of intolerance are frequently perpetrated develop self-esteem issues and will see intolerance everywhere - even where it is not intended. Sometimes the eye contact issues or the lack of social interaction on the part of people with aspergers, can mislead people into thinking that they are disliked. If the other person has self-esteem issues, they will generally take this as a sign of intolerance..."

BTW, it's not a lack if self-esteem - it's a lack of ESP and telepathy.

People against whom acts of intolerance are frequently perpetrated usually aren't amnesiacs. They will remember and recognize the social cues of intolerance when those social cues are repeated, no matter if these cues are intended or not and no matter how low or high their self-esteem is.

For example, a woman doesn't need to have low self-esteem to think that the latest person staring at her and calling her an ugly bitch most likely intends the same thing by that as all the previous people who stared at her and called her an ugly bitch intended by that. She just needs to have long-term memory. Maybe the latest person staring at her and calling her an ugly bitch actually has a different intention in mind, but she can't read the starer's mind to discover that fact - all she can read are the verbal and nonverbal social cues the starer gives.

Anonymous said...

"It is painful enough to go through school being shunned by your classmates."

True. When a child's classmate keeps not making eye contact with him or her and keeps not socially interacting with him or her, that child can feel shunned and hurt.

No wonder that child might take the hint, give up on this classmate, and go try to make friends with other classmates instead of repeatedly approaching this classmate and getting more of the silent treatment.

Anonymous said...

The title in this article here
(
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/minette_marrin/article7043949.ece)

is quite insulting in the context of the discussion that takes place. Is this an example of discrimination?

Anonymous said...

How many nukes does the UK have? Is it discrimination against Asperger's to dislike being nuked if Gordon brown's the one who pushed the button and he has Asperger's?

Barbara said...

Disciplinarian Hassling: This is where a person who doesn't really believe in autism thinks that all a child needs is a good smack. The kinds of people who engage in this often say things like "give me a week with him and I'll have him behaving".

Oh my gosh, I can so relate to this, you have no idea how many times I've heard that "give me a week with him and I'll have him behaving".

In fact I had my neighbour come over a couple of weeks ago and tell basically tell me how bad a parent I am and when I'm having trouble with my son I should send him over to him. I bet if he had him 24 hours a day he'd be sending him back pretty quick.

Thanks for your blog, I really enjoy reading it.

Barbara
Asbergers Syndrome

randomhumanfemale said...

Yeah. I have NVLD, which I was told is a type of Asberger's or related to it. My parents...I'm not even going to pretend to understand how they reacted.

See, one of the symptoms of my disorder is a bad sense of direction. I was always getting lost as a child, even if I was only walking home. Familiar landmarks were unrecognizable to me sometimes. After I was diagnosed, my step-dad would take me on car rides when my mom was gone. He would drive me around and say, "okay, do you know where you are?" I would say, "No," like always, and then he would keep driving, saying "Do you know where you are?" and I would say "No." Over and over again, block after block. Every block he'd tell me to look at the street signs and he'd badger me. "How can you not know where you are? You've been here a million times. What are you, stupid? I know you're not stupid. Come on, tell me where we are." I did not know where we were. We kept driving. I don't know when, but at some point I became incredibly frustrated and started crying and sobbing. I begged him to take me home so I could watch TV or go to sleep. I was exhausted by now, emotionally and physically drained. Every block he would ask me with a very intense, emotive voice, "Do you know where we are?" He would go on for a long time. He told me that he wouldn't take me back home unless I found my way. I couldn't, but eventually he took me home anyway. He did that several more times. When I found my way home he thought it was working, but I just forgot my way the next time. He yelled at me about this. He accused me of being "lame," meaning my metaphorical bones are broken.

An occupational therapy gave me headphones with music in them that was supposed to rewire my brain or something and cure me. The sound they made hurt my ears. I told my stepdad this. He made me wear them until tears were streaming down my face, past the two hours I was supposed to wear them. I sort of got this vibe I got watching a fetish video I accidentally found on the Internet. I don't usually recognize facial expressions, but I think he was enjoying controlling me and watching me suffer. Similar constriction of the muscle tissue around the orbits, the quirk of the mouth, that kind of thing. But I can never be 100% or even 0.000000000000009% on the intentions of these people. They absolutely refuse to tell you outright. They insist that you guess and they usually hope you guess wrong so that you won't realize how they're hurting you, especially if you're female, especially if you're a little girl. But I'm not posting the I-think-it-was-molestation-but-I'm-too-autistic-to-understand story about early integration on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Another form of intolerance is a failure to accommodate a person's needs when those needs are different from what other people need.

For me as a deaf person (for example) this could mean exhibiting impatience if I don't understand them right away, yet refusing to take an extra minute to write things down instead of trying to force me to lipread them after I have already clarified that I am having trouble lipreading them and need them to write it down.

For someone who is hyper sensitive to over stimulation, intolerance could mean other people insisting that you put up with noises and lights that are overwhelming for you, but that other people don't consider to be a problem. It can mean brushing you off when you try to explain why stimulation that is manageable for others is not manageable for you.

Anonymous said...

I am not diagnosed with aspergers, but I have a lot of the same issues. I have kind-of-friends who I try to keep relationships with. Often times i don't respond or talk like the others (ofen readingwriting about the NBA). Being a teen with these problems, being in highschool does not give me intolerance by my peers. My family gives me greif for not being "normal". I liked the article and it would a good idea to show it to relatives of friends who don't tolerate YOU.

Mikzy said...

I've felt a lot of intolerance growing up as an Aspie. I was not accepted by my family and the student body because I would not "conform" to their standards...and I still refuse to conform. I really don't understand why people place such an emphasis on conforming. People want to label me day and night and tell me who I am or who I should be. At first I listened but then I began to rebel because I didn't feel any of these social labels fit with how I truly felt about myself or other people. This society claims to stand for liberty but it's really for liberty within a social construct. People simply follow the flavor of the day when it comes to social reasoning while conveniently forgetting that social reasoning was different at one point. I barely identify with being human. I'm black and I don't identify with being black, I'm male but I don't identify with being male, beyond anatomy of course. No one has shown me a consistent unchanging model of what any of those labels mean so I just give a big middle finger to social categories and choose to be my weird self.

Anonymous said...

Societies create what they fear. America, as shown by the documentary by Michael Moore, is very much imbedded in a culture of fear and of marginalizing minorities.

Other countries, such as some Nordic and also in Canada, have high or higher gun ownership yet nowhere near the problems of America.

Surely there are mad and/or autistic people in these countries, as well-??

No, something else is the big factor here. ...And the gun lovers and lobbyists love to use Asperger's and Mental illness as the scape goat -they are people who love fear.

It is this attitude it self which creates the conditions where mass murders are bred.

It has been found in research that it is osctracism and social rejection that creates mass murders.

In other words -I repeat: society creates what it fears.

The lack of funding into helping those with mental illness -which comes from fear and lack of compassion to understand people with these problems -and in general, society's PARANOIA about difference itself. And its tendency to single-out, pathologize and treat like a leper, all those who fall short of the appearance of 'normal'.

Nevermind how very non-violent many schizophrenics may in fact be -they generally get lumped into the same category. Guilty always -and for some people, even meeting them and learning of their lack of violence and even uncontrolled psychosis, is still not enough for them to let go of treating these people and any others, sometimes, with less severe mental ilnnesses -they still treat these people as if they are sub-human.

I got this treatment, when all I have had was social anxiety. I probably have some version of (female) aspergers. I am totally harmless. Yet, I have had to put up with these paranoid assessments. I can forgive these -since people assume the worst at first. It is much harder, though, to accept on -going prejudice even when people are around you enough to see that you are mostly quite normal, in charge of your reactions and behaviour enough, are never even violent...

....hell, you know what, I am just so angry at even having to defend my self.

Some people are utter idiots. Like my old music teacher -who one day treated me as if I was a piece of absolute scum. She used to be a grandmother figure. ...I am as gentle a person as can be. If anything, my problem is over sensitivity and over concern about other people accepting me.

Anonymous said...

"It has been found in research that it is osctracism and social rejection that creates mass murders."

Not every mass murderer was ostracized and socially rejected.

For starters, the boys who killed so many people at Columbine were actually party people who had dozens of friends.

For another example, the think of all the war crimes that are massacres of civilians. Think all of those were inspired by loneliness?

Miguel Palacio said...

I do believe that intolerance from people on the spectrum can be different than that of folks that are NT. for example, people on the spectrum may be more inclined to self imposed filters or rule-making. Once these are formed, in comparison to NT people these constructs can be a lot more rigid, focused, unyielding and perseverational than with NTs.

I found that to be the case for myself, I've only mellowed down quite a whole lot as I became increasingly self-aware. The more I knew and know about myself, the more I seem to be accepting, understanding and tolerant of others.

Miguel Palacio said...

On the matter of "Directness" that was mentioned. I will forever feel bad about something I once said to a former love parter after I was asked: "Wow! Was that the best sex you ever had?" And me, as though I were Commander Data bluntly replied: "No. There was this time with a former...blah blah blah blah..." and I was doomed.

That example is so emblazoned in my head now that, to the day I die, I will try my darnedest to be careful about my blunt and sometimes hurtful candor.

True, people should be careful what they ask around people on the spectrum, but I was yet to be diagnosed then.

Now I try to be very careful.

By the time I'm in my death bed I might have it down pat. xD

Miguel Palacio said...

hahahahaha on Huckleberry Finn. In some circles that language is still not outdated, unfortunately. Glad ur still with us Gavin.

But I find it interesting you should mention that. I have a hard time distinguishing time sometimes and if I've been immersed in a certain culture or reading books from a certain period or watching old movies some of that will stick, sometimes indiscriminately. Reading too many textbooks can make us sound professorial, for example. I have a hard time shifting between periods and social context. I will often be caught addressing a loved one or family member too formally, even when I don't mean it in a distancing way. And other times I have gotten myself into trouble when addressing elders or people in authority in too familial a way. So, I mind of err on the side of caution and generally lean towards slightly over formal. Those who know me better know not to take offence. =P

Speaking in an outdated manner seems to go for any language too. I'm a polyglot and have been told that my speech tends to be old fashioned regardless of the language in which I'm speaking. I find that this may often be from reading things that are more classic. So now I've made a point of it to also read from contemporary journals and papers, even comic books. But then I end up saying things like "aww shucks! Leaping lizards! And egad!" hahahahaha