Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 05:50 | SYDNEY
Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 05:50 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Climate 'conversation'


Sam Roggeveen


11 February 2010 09:41

John Hannoush writes:

I am pleased that Fergus Green has taken to putting scare quotes around the word 'conversation' (though I notice other words get the treatment, like 'action', 'voluntary').

What exactly does 'conversation' mean in national and international politics?  It is used often: for example, Hillary Clinton promised a conversation with America when she was campaigning in the primaries, Julia Gillard said her (excellent) myschool website could stimulate a conversation at schools across the nation.  

In ordinary life, a conversation is not something that normally leads to a major outcome. It can serve all sorts of useful purposes, like getting to know each other, letting someone know what we think, trading information.  But when we are trying to get something done we move to negotiation mode.  There is even an expression, "We were just making conversation" to indicate something shouldn't be taken too seriously. So, is it just a euphemism for "We know negotiation is doomed, so let's use a more impressive word to describe 'aimless chat' "?  Can we look forward to the Doha Conversation?