<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Bilingual MCA writers and poets for peace
Revista Recre@rte Nº3 Junio 2005 ISSN: 1699-1834                                 http://www.iacat.com/revista/recrearte/recrearte03.htm
Francisco Gomes de Matos


Professor Francisco Gomes de Matos taught for many years, linguistics and languages at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in Recife, northeastern Brazil.

He is the director of HumanDHS's World Language for Equal Dignity project and the Creativity Through Equal Dignity project.

He is a co-founder and Board of Trustees Member of
Associação Brasil América, a Binational Center in
Recife (www.abaweb.org)

He is a co-founder of the Associação Brasileira de
Lingüística and of the Associação de Lingüística Aplicada
do Brasil.

Prof.Gomes de Matos is a monthly contributor to Brazil´s
oldest Catholic monthly magazine,
Ave Maria (www.avemariainternet.com.br
Professor Gomes de Matos holds degrees in languages and law from UFPE and in linguistics from the University of Michigan and the Catholic University of São Paulo.

He has served as a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Texas (Austin), Mexico, Ottawa, and Georgia (Athens, USA).

Gomes de Matos is the author of two pioneering pleas: For a Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (1984) and for Communicative Peace (1993).

His current research interests include linguistic rights and responsibilities (of language users) and peace linguistics.
Please see here

Applying the Pedagogy of Positiveness to Diplomatic Communication by Francisco Gomes de Matos.

See also a review by Robert Craig, University of Colorado,

The Fundamental Communicative Right: A Brazilian Scholar’s Plea, a review of Gomes de Matos, Francisco. Comunicar para o bem: rumo à paz comunicativa, São Paulo: Editora Ave-Maria, 2002, 117 pages, ISBN: 85-276-0563- (first Published in ICA Newsletter, International Communication Association, Volume 31, Number 6, August 2003, page 2 and 5.), and a review by Monika Rektor,

Review of Gomes de Matos, Francisco. Comunicar para o bem: rumo à paz comunicativa, São Paulo: Editora Ave-Maria, 2002. 117pages, ISBN: 85-276-0563-5, as well as

by Manfred Prinz, Rezension von Francisco Gomes de Matos. Comunicar para o Bem Rumo a Paz Comunicativa, São Paulo (Ave Maria) 2002.


Comunicar para o Bem: Rumo à Paz Comunicativa
Editora: Ave Maria
ISBN: 8527605635

Criatividade no Ensino de Inglês: a Resourcebook

Editora: Disal
ISBN: 8589533190


----- Original Message -----

From: Francisco Gomes de Matos

To: Ada Aharoni

WORDS THAT FILL, a poem by Francisco Gomes de Matos, an applied peace linguist from Recife,Brazil


The list of verbal abuses

Our big human frailty shows

By avoiding demeaning uses

Our communicative peace grows

Instead of verbally abusing

Cordially let’s learn to speak

In place of insulting others

Let’s try hard to be meek

NO! to language offensive

YES! to uses constructing

NO! to language derisive

YES! To uses humanizing

Let’s not destructively communicate

For dignity we would demote

Let’s constructively approximate

For dignity we would promote

If the vocabulary humans use

As forms that communicatively kill

The education needed is to choose

Words that peace- with- harmony fill


On September 5, 2004, Francisco Gomes de Matos wrote:
To Beslan Children - The World Misses You
When you died
because of a war
Human dignity cried:
"Don't close my door!"
When you were killed
in acts of violence
Human Rights denounced:
"Where's the protection of innocence?"
When you were sacrificed
in abominable terrorism
Planetary citizens proclaimed:
"Let's create a new humanism"
Where peace and justice prevail
where differences disappear
where human beings sail
all waters without fear
where memories of you
will show us a new way
which will change history
your heroism is here to stay.

Please see here also Francisco's poem on Peace Patriotism.


----- Original Message -----

From: Francisco Gomes de Matos

To: iflac@yahoogroups.com

Cc: Ada Aharoni

Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2005 10:37 AM

Subject: A new poem : What can PEACE be ?

What can PEACE be ?

A poem by Francisco Gomes de Matos, an applied peace linguist from Recife,Brazil fcgm@hotlink.com.br

What can PEACE be ?

One day PEACE I asked

What can you be ?

PEACE kindly smiled

and whispered to me

PEACE can be sought

PEACE can be taught

PEACE can be wrought

But,alas, PEACE can be fought

PEACE can be aimed at

PEACE can be dreamed of

PEACE can be hoped for

But, alas, PEACE can be laughted at

And I eagerly insisted

PEACE what can you be

PEACE gently smiled

And whispered to me

PEACE can be your meditation

PEACE can be their mediation

PEACE can be our TRANSformation

PEACE can be HUMANKIND salvation

Francisco Gomes de Matos
Applying the Pedagogy of Positiveness

Applying the Pedagogy of Positiveness to Diplomatic Communication by Francisco Gomes de Matos
Gomes de Matos, Francisco (2001). Applying the Pedagogy of Positiveness to Diplomatic Communication. In Jovan Kurblija and Hannah Slavik (Eds.) Language and Diplomacy. Msida, Malta: DiploProjects.

This text was first published by DiploFoundation in their book Language and Diplomacy (2001).


Francisco Gomes de Matos
Departamento de Letras
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Recife, Brazil

Introduction: Views of Communication


As one of the key-concepts in human linguistic life, communication has prompted several definitions for linguists, for example, that term can broadly refer to every kind of mutual transmission of information using signs or symbols between living beings (humans, animals), as well as between people and data-processing machines. (Bussman, Hadumod Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. Londonand New York, Routledge, 1996, p.83).

In its narrowest sense, however, communication can be taken as meaning ‘The transmission and reception of information between a signaler and a receiver’ (Crystal, David The Penguin Dictionary of Language. Second edition. London: Penguin Books, 1999, p.62).

If we look at perceptions of communication by communication theorists, we can come across characterizations such as these: ‘Communication is the generation of meaning’ or that ‘communication is a ubiquitous and powerful source in society’ (Bowers, John Waite and James J. Bradac, Contemporary Problems in Human Communication Theory, in Carroll C. Arnold and John Waite Bowers, Handbook of Rhetorical and Communication Theory. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1984, p.872, 874).

If we leave the language and communication sciences and turn to international relations, what interpretations of communication can we find? That it is a process of negotiation ‘between states seeking to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome on some issue or issues of shared concern’ (Cohen, Raymond Negotiating across Cultures. International communication in an interdependent world. Washington, D.C. United States Institute of Peace Press, 2nd ed., 1997, p. 9).

How about communication in diplomacy, or rather, among diplomats? Here is a definition taken from a dictionary for diplomats: ‘Communication among diplomats is a two-way street: one cannot expect to obtain much information unless one is able and willing to convey information’. (Karl Gruber,1983, quoted in Chas. Freeman, Jr., The Diplomat’s Dictionary. Revised edition, 1997, p. 49. Washington, D.C United States Institute of Peace Press).

What is shared in such definitions/characterizations? The shared nature of the process: Communication is first and foremost an act of sharing.

How do we communicate orally?

By sharing the language used in a particular context at a specific time, by interacting, by co-constructing a dialogue or a multilogue, by expressing our attitudes, emotions, feelings in a friendly or in an unfriendly manner, by relying on many nonverbal signals (body language, facial expressions), by sometimes emphasizing what is said -- content -- and sometimes emphasizing how it is said -- form, or we can communicate, more typically by integrating forms and meanings in contexts of use which can create different effects on our interlocutors. We can communicate by being explicit or by preferring implicit speech. We can communicate by hedging, by avoiding coming straight to the point, through purposely vague language. We can communicate by using not only words but terms (typical of different professional fields), as for instance in International Relations, lexical items used for talking about anti-globalization: inhuman labor conditions, risky technology, abject poverty (cf. Varyrynen, Raimo, ‘Anti-globalization movements at the crossroads,’ in Policy Brief. No.4, November 2000, p. 3. Universityof NotreDame: Joan B. Kroc Institute).
As humans, we can communicate by expressing both positive and negative (or ‘questionable’) perceptions, by delivering both good and bad news, or by leaving out the positive side. We can communicate in socially responsible or irresponsible ways; in other ways, to bring out communicative harmony or disharmony. These reflections would lead us to questions such as: How are diplomats perceived? Why does there seem to be a practice of presenting diplomacy/diplomats negatively in books of quotations, for example? What would be the ratio of positive and negative perceptions of diplomats in such books, if a world bibliographic survey were conducted? How about diplomatic communication? How has it been described and why? What misperceptions are there concerning such process? What positive features and questionable features are being associated to the way diplomats communicate in speaking (face-to-face or on the telephone, etc) and in writing?

In a recent Conference held in Maryland, U.S., in July last year, U.S.negotiators were described as tending ‘to be explicit, legalistic, blunt, and optimistic.’ (Peace Watch, United States Institute of Peace Press, October 2000, Vol.VI, No. 6, p.1). Note that one of the adjectives conveys a potential negative or questionable meaning: ‘blunt’ (discourteous, abrupt, curt) What is it that sometimes leads negotiators to communicate in such questionable ways? What would seem to be missing in the linguistic/communicative preparation of diplomats?

When I was asked to share a little of the philosophy underlying my Pedagogy of Positiveness, it occurred to me that to make it transparent, I should state some of its Principles. Here they are:

Applying the Pedagogy of Positiveness to diplomatic communication: A Checklist

1. Emphasize ‘what to say constructively. Avoid ‘what not to say’.

2. Implement diplomatic communication as a humanizing form of interaction. Definitions of ‘diplomacy’ of the type Art + Science or Science + Art leave out the humanizing responsibility of diplomats’ communication.

3. Communicate national and international values constructively. What ‘national’ values do diplomats communicate? How?

4. Learn to identify and to avoid potentially aggressive, insensitive, offensive, destructive uses of languages. Do your best to offset dehumanizing ways of communication, often the outcome of human communicative fallibility.

5. Think of the language you use as a peace-building, peace-making, peace-promoting force. Do you challenge yourself to transform your communicative competence into competence in communicative peace?

6. At all times, do your very best to view yourself positively, to view the diplomatic profession positively, to view life positively and to communicate such view as constructively as you can.

7. Learn to exercise your communicative rights and to fulfill your communicative responsibilities in a sensibly balanced way. Remember that you have the right to question and to criticize, but do so responsibly, in a human-dignifying manner.

8. Handle differences of opinion in a constructive way. Remember that ‘negative talk’ tends to predominate or often dominate in face-to-face diplomatic interactions.

9. Treat others with respect by being as communicatively friendly as you can.

10. Choose your words on the basis of their Peace Power rather than on their strategic value alone. Communicative both tactfully and tactically.

11. Try to see and describe both sides of an issue. Challenge yourself to make balanced (rather than biased) statements. Don’t be a polemicist.

12. Avoid hiding behind pompous language to question someone.

13. In reading diplomatic texts, look for fair comments. Try to reconstruct (infer) the method used by the authors. Learn to apply Discourse Analysis to your processing.

14. Avoid blurring the meanings of key words such as Politics. It is standard polemical practice to blur the meanings of Politics, etc.

15. It is a truism to state that no communication is neutral, so commit yourself to communicating as humanizingly as you can. Remember if language is definitional of what is human, constructive language use is definitional of what is humanizing in communication.

16. Communicatively, aim at linguistic probity and integrity.

17. Conflict can be managed to some extent, and so can language use, especially if you adopt a constructive perspective, for expressing your attitudes, beliefs, and emotions. What parts of a diplomat’s vocabulary (lexical repertoire) can be systematized for constructive communicative purposes?
Educate yourself in identifying ‘positivizers’ in spoken and written texts in your field and challenge yourself to make increasing use of such constructive, human-dignifying adjectives, verbs, and nouns.

18. Learn to monitor more confrontational sentence types by replacing them with listener/reader friendly sentences.

Some Pleas/Recommendations

1. Considering the apparently widespread misperceptions of diplomats and diplomacy in the media and in reference works (see especially Books of Quotations), in the light of our Pedagogy of Positiveness, a plea is made for (present/emerging/future) diplomats to launch an international movement which would help build an accurate, fairer image of the work (being/to be) done by those who commit themselves to helping bring about a truly interdependent world, through the international discourse of diplomacy. Having come across small but convincing evidence that a positive, public perception of diplomats and their activity is urgently needed -- a plea is similarly made for organizations engaged in the education of diplomats to join in such cooperative effort.

2. Also considering that one of the most salient positive senses of "diplomatic" -- to the public at large -- is that of " being tactful" or displaying a friendly attitude toward other human beings -- a plea is similarly made for that "positively marked sense of the term" to be capitalized on, through more research on the spoken/written vocabulary used in diplomatic communication as well as on the teaching of a constructive-human-dignifying use -- and monitoring -- of such lexicon to emerging/ future diplomats so that they can be deeply aware of language using as a great humanizing force in human interaction, especially in situations involving peace negotiation, mediation, and other challenging processes experienced by diplomats as true world citizens. One of the strategies suggested for the semantic preparation of diplomats would be their sensitization to the functions of "positivizers" in diplomatic discourse (verbs, adjectives, and nouns which reflect/enhance inherently constructive actions and attributes or qualities in human beings). Another strategy would be that of learning how to read diplomatic texts constructively, by identifying "positivizers" in such texts: frequency of occurrence, potential impact, ratio of "positivizers" and "negativizers", confrontational types of sentence structures, types of hedging and vague uses of language, among other features.

3. Considering the pioneering nature of this Conference and the growing interest of linguists and other language-related interdisciplinarians in Political Discourse in general and the emerging interest of language-centred researchers on Diplomatic Discourse, a recommendation is made that that Conference be sustained and broadened -- through workshops, intensive Seminars, and other pre-Conference events which can enable participants to benefit from the expertise of specialists in the several language-focused domains of theoretical and practical relevance to the challenges of today’s diplomacy.

4. Considering that Diplomacy has its own distinctive repertoire of terms -- cf. Chas. W.Freeman Jr’s The Diplomat’s Dictionary. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1997. 2nd ed. -- and that a profession’s lexicon should realistically reflect collective decisions and choices -- another plea is made for a Project centered on a Dictionary of Diplomacy (as multilingual as possible) to be prioritized on the Agenda of Relevant Reference Works for the Preparation of Diplomats. What I have in mind is a collectively shared, international project which could very well be sponsored by this Conference’s host institution: the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies.

5. Last but not least, a final plea is made for the study of Human Linguistic Rights to become a required subject in the education of diplomats. As promoters of "communicative peace" among persons, groups, and nations, diplomats need to become knowledgeable in that new category of human rights. A visit to the site of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights ( www.linguistic-declaration.org ) may give an idea of the breadth and depth of the insights which can inspire needed research on the communicative rights and responsibilities of diplomats. In short, it is my conviction that a Pedagogy of Positiveness can contribute to the education of diplomats, especially in close interaction with International Relations, Linguistics, Communication Science, Peace Psychology, Peace Linguistics, and Human Linguistic Rights, to name but a few of the contributory domains.

We have made some progress since the mid-seventies, when researchers’ attention was focused on DoubleSpeak (Cf. Daniel Dieterich, Editor, Teaching about DoubleSpeak. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 1976. See especially the chapter on Guidelines for the Analysis of Responsibility in Governmental Communication, by Dennis Gouran, pp.20-32) to the present-day investigation of DiploDiscourse (for an example, see Ray T. Donahue and Michael H. Prosser, Diplomatic Discourse: International conflict at the United Nations -- Addresses and Analysis. Greenwich, Connecticut and London: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1997) but much more should be accomplished if we are to start transforming Diplomatic Communication into dignified and dignifying discourse, thus contributing to harmonizing and humanizing an important domain within Political Discourse. For a suggested strategy on how to read a political text positively, see my article Harmonizing and humanizing Political Discourse: the contribution of peace linguistics, in Peace and Conflict. Journal of Peace Psychology. Vo. 6, No. 4, 2000, pp. 339-344. In short, if I may adapt my characterization of "communicating well" therein to the diplomatic context, I would say that "communicating well diplomatically means communicating for the well being of diplomatic interlocutors and, more broadly, for the well-being of humankind".

[IFLAC] Digest Number 927, Sunday, February 13, 2005



Francisco Gomes de MATOS
Professor no Departamento de Letras, CAC, UFPE
Membro da Comissão de Direitos Humanos Dom Helder Câmara


O colega Francisco da Silva Borba (UNESP/Araraquara), em seu precioso Dicionário de Usos do Português do Brasil ( São Paulo: Ática , 2002 ) apresenta 9 sentidos para erro: engano, desvio,falta, inexatidão,incerteza,dúvida, defeito , juízo falso e incorreção em texto(593).

Na referida obra encontramos definições para pecado (‘transgressão de Preceito religioso") e para quatro tipos de pecado: capital avareza, gula, inveja, ira, luxúria, orgulho e preguiça), mortal , original e venial (1173). Qual das duas palavras – erro e pecado – terá sido introduzida antes, na comunicação escrita? pecado já aparece antes do ano 900, enquanto erro ocorre em algumas línguas escritas, a partir de 1275.

Para os que atuam nas áreas da Comunicação e dos Estudos da Linguagem, poderá interessar saber que a idéia de pecar contra a gramática está expressa pelo filósofo e crítico literário alemão Friedrich Nietzsche : "Uma palavra ,muitos sentimentos Deus me perdoe O pecado contra a gramática "(Assim Falou Zarathustra,1883).Tal citação está incluída no magistral volume Words on Words.Quotations about language and languages, organizado pelo casal católico David e Hilary Crystal (Londres: Penguin Books, 2000).

Erros e pecados comunicativos.

Na riquíssima Tradição de Estudos Gramaticais que herdamos – representada por tantas gramáticas para diversos fins – continua a ter lugar estratégico o conceito de erro. Assim, uma consulta à Gramática Escolar da Língua Portuguesa (com Exercícios),de Evanildo Bechara (Rio: Editora Lucerna,2001), orienta-nos a respeito de "juízos de valor" – o que é (in)coerente, (in)correto ou (in)adequado – e exemplifica ‘erros freqüentes na conjugação de alguns verbos". Apesar da vitalidade pedagógica de "erro", o termo "pecado" continua a atrair a atenção de quem se ocupa da educação comunicativa dos usuários de línguas.Um exemplo: a escritora-jornalista americana. Constance Hale publicou,em 1999, um livro intitulado Sin and Syntax (Pecado e Sintaxe), pela editora nova-iorquina Broadway Books. Em seu manual de estilo, essa autora idêntica vários tipos de pecados comunicativos,dentre os quais: pecados cardeais ou verdadeiras trangressões ,cometidas por desconhecimento de quem usa o idioma . Hale chega a identificar o que chama de pecados mortais cometidos ao usar-se substantivos ( em inglês,no caso): emprego abusivo de palavras em ão (utilização, em vez de uso ), desperdício comunicativo( dizer ‘condições climáticas adversas" em vez de ‘mau tempo’), inadequação ( dizer a uma criança : "vamos ter um diálogo’, em vez de "uma conversa).

Para este articulista, engajado no movimento em favor da Paz Comunicativa , através da Lingüística da Paz ( cf. nosso livro Comunicar para o Bem. Editora Ave Maria, 2002), em que pese a contribuição de tantos autores sobre os desafios envolvidos no saber comunicar-se bem, ainda estamos ensaiando os primeiros passos no diagnóstico, na prevenção e correção de problemas comunicativos em um nível mais profundo : o da desumanização.

Assim, além de precisarmos ser competentes no trato de erros como os identificados e trabalhados por gramáticas escolares e manuais de estilo , temos o dever de nos prepararmos -- no caso de professores de português, de ajudar os alunos -- para lidarmos com e resolver nossos pecados lingüísticos maiores, que constituem violações ao princípio do amor ao próximo comunicativo . Eis uma lista parcial de verbos que retratam ações desumanizadoras, a serem monitoradas e – eis o desafio ! -- evitadas em nossa interação com as pessoas, grupos, comunidades: discriminar (através de designações, rotulações, etc), afrontar (no sentido de insultar alguém), desdenhar, diminuir,caluniar, difamar, criticar(só negativamente,sem apontar aspectos positivos), depreciar (desvalorizar o que alguém afirma), fustigar (criticar impediosamente), ridicularizar, insultar ( lembraria a existência de Dicionários de Insultos, em várias línguas! Inexistem,entretanto, as obras construtivas,do tipo Dicionário de Palavras e Expressões Construtivas, Promotoras da Paz ),vilipendiar( retratar alguém com desprezo),censurar (injustamente), alfinetar (nossas palavras às vezes têm esse efeito desumanizador…) ,maldizer, humilhar (rebaixar uma pessoa), injustiçar (comunicativamente), ouvir maldosamente (lembraria o provérbio Senegalês: " ouvidos sadios agüentam palavras doentias", por isso, empenhemo-nos em não pecar auditivamente).

Em suma, que este artigo contribua para refletirmos sobre os erros/pecados comunicativos que cometemos e para os quais não encontramos assistência técnica específica, pois isto seria missão de estudiosos na área da literatura da alter-ajuda.


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