A handy guide for our fellow Europeans, and others trying to fathom weaselly Brit-speak. Suggest you have this to hand at the next meeting [h/t Nicholas Pialek]
Really useful, and indeed true! (Said by an Italian with a Scottish partner…)
OUCH! Too, too close to the truth…or should I say, “not bad”?
I think we need a gender-sensitised version – what British men say and what British women say and what they mean. Then perhaps us Brits might start to understand each other ) There’s always hope…
suddenly all the years I spent working for OGB as an aussie (whatever you do, don;t mention the word “convict”) are illuminated!
Oh…now I see where we Canadians get our “politeness” from!
A German friend pointed out another thing we Brits do: a long drawn-out “hmmmmm..” noise which sounds like “I am thinking about your interesting comment” but actually means “I am not even bothering to think about your idiotic contribution”.
I am particularly fond of interesting and that drawn out hmmm you speak of Gus.
I like this posting and it should be pointed out that Americans, speaking to other Americans, speak with the same kind of disquieting subterfuge.
Oh oh… very alerting. I should go back to my PF and dig out my appraisals of last 5 years to see what my Brtish managers’ve really said…
But when a Japanese says “quite good” he means “you’ve blown it”.
I have one to contribute: ‘thank you for making the time to come long’, said by The Boss when they call you to a meeting room with not very good news… meaning: ‘we are going to be so unfair and makae your life so hard that is borderline illegal, but we don’t really care and can’t wait for you to go’.
Me, being continental replied: ‘I can’t not make the time for you, can I?’, to an stunned audience of senior managers… you live and learn.
Neil, at least in the old days, when an Indian said “quite good” it meant “excellent”
Here’s another one:
“Leave it with me”
Brit means “Hell will freeze over before you see a solution to this problem”
What others understand” Oh I don’t have to worry about this. He/she has got it handled.”
…and that reminds me of another:
- “Well, I’ll leave you to it then.”
- Brit means: “I cannot WAIT to get out of this room and leave behind the load of work I’ve just dumped on her desk.”
- What others understand: “How nice and respectful of my time, and what a demonstration of confidence in my abilities!”
When on the phone Brits say “No. I’m sorry…” what they mean is “You are wrong and I’m going on the offensive.”
What others understand “Finally he admits he’s wrong”
“When you get a minute”
“Do this immediately”
what others think
“There’s no rush to get this done”
I came across this article while trying to find a way of explaining to a French company why their letter of recommendation which seemed excellent on the face of it would have basically dammed me to ‘the deepest pit of hell’ to any English company, so along with my explanation to them which took me a little while to figure out I sent this link.
As a Brit, the old style to which the reference material for the most part is very accurate however it should be noted that there are some instances where this could be misleading.
Take the infamous ‘quite good’ while in normal Brit based circumstances this would mean to be barley acceptable but if used like this “this is quite good’ that would normally mean ‘it is very good indeed’; It could also mean ‘diabolically bad’ depending on the tone and context that it is used in.
British is like any other language, you have the spoken written documented side of it then you have the historical lived through cultural side of it, and that can change greatly from region to region or in Scotland’s case town to town, this would be very difficult explain to a ‘cultural visitor’ for lack of a better way of putting it.
But all in all very impressed, ‘I never really majored’ in English which means ‘I’m crap’ however I really appreciate the effort that been put into this small article / info piece, I shall use it as a reference from now on where applicable.
Darn it, stop giving all our secrets away! We understand each other perfectly, thank you (which is surely the aim of the game).
Brits would also say “Let’s keep in touch” which tends to mean “I never want to see or hear from you again”.
And “Satisfactory” in a report usually means “pretty unsatisfactory”
Anyone can please explain what Brits mean when they say “others trying to fathom weaselly Brit-speak”.
Further on, can you please explain what they actually mean, then how the “others” (than Europeans) can identify themselves as a group trying to do something they won’t really understand.
Incidentally and with the greatest respect, I find the guide not too bad and the aforementioned phrase very interesting and despite my few minor comments I think the author of the phrase should come for dinner, unless we can consider some other options.
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On the basis of the posts from Duncan and Angus Deaton, and what I know about aid