Pitt’s foreign language departments announced Thursday that a course in nodding and smiling will now be required for foreign language majors and minors, citing the time-tried technique as essential for communication with foreigners.
“Be it your poor knowledge of the language the other person is speaking or their poor understanding of English that causes you to have no idea what they are saying, nodding and smiling is always the best conversation lubricant,” said Susan Homperson, a Pitt professor of Chinese. “As long as everybody does it, the foreigners will never learn from their mistakes and keep confidently spouting incomprehensible strings of sounds. As a bonus, you’ll never learn from yours.“ Homperson added that, depending on the other person’s tone, smiling may be replaced by making a thoughtful face and saying “yeah.”
At press time, committee of professors was discussing whether introductory-level foreign language courses should be replaced by a course on speaking English very slowly and loudly, with emphatic gestures.