A quick question with a quick answer:
How would a virtuous eldrae answer the eternal question “Does this dress make me look fat?”
Honestly and accurately.
But then, if you had spent any time at all in their cultural sphere, you’d know better than ask damn silly questions that you don’t want an honest, accurate answer to. Or, at the very least, you’d know what you were about to get.
(To generalize, if comforting white lies and other forms of sugar-coated bullshit are something you look for… man, are you in the wrong culture.)
However, sarcasm isn’t appreciated; e.g. “not the dress, no”.
Actually, given the sheer amount of snark that flies around here, I’d imagine that sarcasm is nearly the primary mode of communication in the Empire.
Building from this: What is the virtuous eldrae spouse’s proper response on being told that her dress, in fact, does make her look fat?
Well, since she’s a product of the exact same cultural milieu and would not have asked that particular question without wanting an honest, accurate answer, probably to go and have words with her seamstress. What else were you expecting?
So there’d be no emotional reaction whatsoever if what was said didn’t match up with what was expected or desired?
Internally? Certainly, since people have emotional reactions to everything; goes along with being sophont.
But consider these:
First, if you ask an honest question, you get an honest answer. This is a culture of intellectual integrity.
If you want to know how a dress makes you look, that’s what you ask. If you ask it in the above-mentioned form, it’s either because (a) you already suspect the answer is yes and are looking for external confirmation; in which case you’re not going to be upset at being right;
Or (b), you’re a human, and you’re setting up some sort of twisted loyalty/love/willingness-to-lie-to-me test. I say “you’re a human”, because if they wanted to get a status check on the former, an eldrae would ask you outright, and if someone wants the latter, they’re insane by local standards. You do not ask people to fake your reality for you; see culture of intellectual integrity, above.
Second, Eldraeic is a language predisposed towards mathematician’s answers. A native speaker will parse “Does this dress make me look fat?” as a question about the dress, and will correctly answer no for both the slim-looking slim person and the fat-looking fat one, and the response will only be yes for the fat-looking slim person; and most importantly, the answer will be parsed likewise.
Interpreting it as some sort of value judgment on the person is not only not even wrong, but also plain ungrammatical.
Third, our protagonist here is a grown-ass woman in a culture in which adults are expected, nay, required to comport themselves as such.
If you’re in the habit of throwing a tantrum every time you get an answer you don’t like or reality otherwise fails to fit your expectations, it is exceedingly unlikely that anyone would have put up with your labile bullshit for long enough to get into any kind of relationship in the first place.
And as a final note, this question is itself rendered somewhat moot in a culture in which one’s weight is always a matter of choice, and thus anyone who is fat is such because they actively want to be, and as such the modern-Western-human cultural assumptions that freight the question here are nonsensical on their face there in the first place.
There we go. This is what I was looking for; thank you very much 🙂