On aim I asked my friend about a wedding I didn't attend because I was on vacation. I asked her how it went, how the bride looked, if the groom was cute and so on. She replied:
I have pics from her wedding, I will send them to you. B'li neder
I said: You're so frummy, "bli neder" haha
She says: I was making a promise, what if I break it?
So I went on with an argument on how she should've taken a philsophy of language course. If one doesn't say "I promise" in a culture with a language that requires one to say "I promise" she therefore, did not make the promise.
Like when little kids fight. One little kid says to the other "But you said you'd share your candy"
And the other kid (usually older) replies "I know, but I never promised"
This is the perfect example of what I'm talking about. While the "I never promised" doesn't usually get the snotty kid off the hook by a parent or guardian, the lack of "I promise" definitly did give him some leeway. Had he promised, the kid would've (in my experience) gotten in more trouble.
So my friend replied "But this is how I learned it, and I'm sticking to that"
So I said to her, "Fine, but these things are relative to language and culture. IF you never said 'I promise' and I were to take you to court, I'd get nothing, because that 'I promise' means something. Without it, I've got no case...
Also, just like you cannot use third person to refer to a Rav or teacher, since it is grammatically incorrect, and you'd have to find a different means of showing respect, you cannot assume someone promised without them actually promising. Maybe there is something in Hebrew or Aramaic that implies a promise that we do not know about, but in the English language, as well as in the American culture, one needs the "I promise" to actually imply a promise. I bet the beis din would throw something out if its without promise."
So she replies (good reply, but indirectly proved my point, not hers) "The beis din would throw everything out without a contract."
Me: "LOL, duh. a contract is a promise."
Anyway. She signed off. But it got me thinking, what is a promise? I mean, if I told my sister I will give her $50 tomorrow and I do not, I lied. And it might just be me, but I feel that somehow it is worse, and more than just a lie if I actually say "I promise I'll give you $50 tomorrow" and do not.
But then it goes to the question of (I forgot who asked) on whether or not a promise is a promise if the person giving it had no intention to hold it. So if I promise my sister I'll giver her $50 tomorrow, even though I have no desire to actually do so, am I still promising? According to some philosophers, its based on society, while others say its the law of the language (which I don't get since language is a convention of soceity). Anyway. I think my friend is totally wack. And I hold firmly to not saying "b'li neder" because its so annoying.