[Osmf-talk] Language, tone and their explanations - why I resigned from HOT US Inc

Donal Hunt donal.hunt at gmail.com
Fri Dec 1 16:39:59 UTC 2017

WARNING: This may be too "wordy" for some readers.


Thank you for taking the time to clarify your intentions in previous
communications and the background to past events. I know it can be hard to
openly communicate when the world is full of people ready to shout you down.

As a native English speaker who has had the pleasure of working with many
nationalities both in a professional and personal capacity, I have come to
recognise the fact that it is easy to loose meaning through translation of
words, tone, and body language. It may not be well understood, but Irish
personalities can be quite sarcastic when it comes to communication (watch
any episode of Father Ted).

I had the pleasure of working for a multinational company for many years
and they spent considerable effort on ensuing the workplace enabled
everyone to bring themselves to work. While English was the official
working language, you would hear conversations in many languages throughout
the day (in any country they had an office). Clear expectations were set
within the company regarding communication and awareness of your audience.
Employees were reminded about how words, tone and body language play an
important role in communication (sarcasm relies heavily on tone and body
language which is missing in written form). In cases where tensions were
frayed (or behaviour crossed the line), specific channels were available
for the affected individual (or any witness) to report the concern. Issues
were investigated confidentially and feedback provided in aggregate terms
from time to time to the wider community.

Personally, I've found my interactions with other nationalities to have
made me a better person. I speak clearer and with less sarcasm than I would
have in the past. I focus on making clear points and less flippant remarks
(I'm still working on my memes <- joke). :)

Finally, I would like to say that the recent conversations on this list
have indicated to me that people care greatly about this topic and ensuring
the foundation is an open welcoming place for people interested in the
governance of OpenStreetMap. I hope the board can take that on board and
take the necessary action...

Kind regards


On 1 Dec 2017 16:15, "Severin Menard" <severin.menard at gmail.com> wrote:

(Automatic translation in English - original in French below)

Dear all,

The fact that the discussions on the main OSM lists take place de facto
only in the language of Shakespeare considerably limits the understanding
and the interactions of non-English speakers (of birth or non-bilingual).
Being neither native English speaking (a native speaker as in English) nor
bilingual despite a relatively good level of English, my writings in
english will always reach a certain glass ceiling and can never reflect
exactly what I would express in French.

I therefore take the decision to write in my language and to refer to an
automatic translator (which I will nevertheless correct any mis-sense),
which I think will have the cumulative advantages of allowing me to express
myself fully, of to offer francophones with little or no English the chance
to understand for once these important exchanges on the governance of OSM
and its stakes and, I hope, for English Speakers to no longer focus on the
form of expression, but rather on the bottom of thought.

Geographer, prehistorian and geomatician by training, I am not a
communicator. The tone I used about Heather is certainly dry and satirical
and may surprise both those who did not know me and those who already knew
However, I think it is factually false, as some people may have said, that
I used the register of insult or behaved in "bully" (English word whose
meaning we understand but which does not really have a direct translation
into French), which others have already contested.

Moreover, the deliberately sarcastic tone I used is part of a cultural
tradition, satire being a form of information particularly common in
France. Printed newspaper, ad-free and completely independent of all power,
The Chained Duck (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Canard_encha%C3%AEn%C3%A9)
is at the origin of the revelation of a very large number of scandals and
business in France. Written in a particularly satirical form, willingly
using unpopular nicknames and in a tone little brought with the powerful,
it constitutes a source of information and an element of counter-power very
important in France, much more than the weekly now world famous Charlie
Hebdo. No one in France would think of disqualifying the facts reported by
Le Canard on the pretext of a form considered too caricatural or
disrespectful of the persons mentioned in the articles. Whether one is
adept or not in the tone of the newspaper, it does not matter: only the
facts reported count. I make this parallel to explain that while this form
of expression may seem inappropriate to others from a cultural point of
view or should not supposedly take place in the OSM lists, it does not
discredit the reported facts.

The tone I've used is probably also a sign that it's hard for me to stay
neutral in front of someone I worked with on the HOT US Inc board from
March 2014 to January. 2016, and on a personal level made a particularly
difficult period of my life on a psychological level, which led me to
officially resign as a member of HOT US Inc in May 2016, which I publish
today as as OSM blog post (https://www.openstreetmap.org
/user/sev_osm/diary/42854). Go back into it and intervene on this list is
also not obvious, and since the writing of my previous email, my body and
my mind again expressed the same pain as before. I am not alone in
preferring to depart from this organization for the same reasons. But I
feel that speaking and sharing this painful experience is necessary to
avoid what I consider to be a major danger for the OSMF.

I draw everyone's attention to an upsurge between October and November of
new OSMF members as never seen before with a pass from 435 to 537 normal
members (https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Membership/ Statistics), which
suggests that a large number of people are interested in the upcoming vote.



Texte original en français :

Titre : Langue, ton et leurs explications : pourquoi j'ai démissionné de

Bonjour à tous,

Le fait que les discussions sur les listes OSM principales n’aient lieu de
facto que dans la langue de Shakespeare limite considérablement la
compréhension et les interactions des non anglophones (de naissance ou non
bilingues). N’étant ni anglophone de langue maternelle (un « native
speaker » comme on dit en anglais) ni bilingue malgré un niveau d’anglais
relativement honorable, mes écrits *in english *atteindront toujours un
certain plafond de verre et ne peuvent jamais refléter exactement ce que
j’exprimerais en français.

Je prends donc le parti d’écrire dans ma langue et de me référer à un
traducteur automatique (dont je corrigerai néanmoins les éventuels
contre-sens), ce qui aura je pense les avantages cumulés de me permettre de
m’exprimer pleinement, d’offrir aux francophones peu ou pas anglophones la
chance de comprendre pour une fois ces échanges importants sur la
gouvernance d’OSM et ses enjeux et, je l’espère, aux anglophones de ne plus
être rivés sur la forme de l’expression, mais bien sur le fond de la

Géographe, préhistorien et géomaticien de formation, je ne suis pas un
communicant. Le ton que j’ai employé vis-à-vis de Heather est certainement
sec et satirique et peut étonner à la fois ceux qui ne me connaissaient pas
et ceux qui me connaissaient déjà.

Pour autant, je pense qu’il est factuellement faux, comme il a pu être dit
par certains, que j’ai utilisé le registre de l’insulte ou me sois comporté
en « bully » (terme anglais dont nous comprenons le sens mais qui n’a pas
vraiment de traduction directe en français), ce que d’autres ont déjà

Qui plus est, le ton délibérément sarcastique que j’ai employé s’inscrit
dans une tradition culturelle, la satire étant une forme d’information
particulièrement courante en France. Journal uniquement imprimé, sans
publicité et totalement indépendant de tout pouvoir, Le Canard Enchaîné (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Canard_encha%C3%AEn%C3%A9) est à l’origine
de la révélation d’un très grand nombre de scandales et d’affaires en
France. Écrit dans une forme particulièrement satirique, usant volontiers
de surnoms peu avantageux et d’un ton peu amène avec les puissants, il
constitue une source d’information et un élément de contre-pouvoir très
important en France, bien plus que l’hebdomadaire désormais mondialement
célèbre Charlie Hebdo. Il ne viendrait à personne en France l’idée de
disqualifier les faits rapportés par Le Canard au prétexte d’une forme
jugée trop caricaturale ou irrespectueuse des personnes dont il est fait
mention dans les articles. Qu’on soit adepte ou pas du ton du journal, peu
importe : seuls les faits rapportés comptent. Je fais ce parallèle pour
expliquer que si cette forme d’expression peut paraître inappropriée à
d’autres d’un point de vue culturel ou ne devrait supposément pas avoir
lieu dans les listes OSM, qu’elle ne discrédite pas pour autant les faits

Le ton que j’ai employé est sans doute aussi le signe qu’il est désormais
pour moi difficile de rester neutre en face de quelqu’un avec qui j’ai dû
travailler au sein du board de HOT US Inc de mars 2014 à janvier 2016, et
qui à un niveau personnel a rendu une période de ma vie particulièrement
pénible sur un plan psychologique, ce qui m’a conduit à donner
officiellement ma démission de membre de HOT US Inc en mai 2016, que je
publie aujourd’hui en tant que billet de blog OSM (
https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/sev_osm/diary/42854). Me replonger dans
cela et intervenir sur cette liste n’est d’ailleurs pas évident, et depuis
la rédaction de mon précédent courriel, mon corps comme mon esprit ont
exprimé à nouveau les mêmes douleurs qu’autrefois. Je ne suis pas le seul à
préférer s’écarter de cette organisation pour ces mêmes raisons. Mais
j’estime que prendre la parole et partager cette expérience pénible est
nécessaire pour éviter ce que j’estime être un danger majeur pour l’OSMF.

J’attire l’attention de tous sur une recrudescence entre octobre et
novembre de nouveaux membres de l’OSMF comme jamais vue auparavant avec un
passage de 435 à 537 membres normaux (https://wiki.osmfoundation.or
g/wiki/Membership/Statistics), ce qui laisse penser qu’un grand nombre de
personnes est intéressé par le vote à venir.


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