What Brits say v what they mean – handy de-coding device June 7, 2011 22 By admin 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] CategoryGeneral 22 Comments cristina roccella says: June 7, 2011 at 8:55 am Really useful, and indeed true! (Said by an Italian with a Scottish partner…) Reply John Magrath says: June 7, 2011 at 10:23 am OUCH! Too, too close to the truth…or should I say, “not bad”? Reply Leah Pybus says: June 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm 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… Reply jane bean says: June 8, 2011 at 1:23 am suddenly all the years I spent working for OGB as an aussie (whatever you do, don;t mention the word “convict”) are illuminated! Reply Franz Wong says: June 8, 2011 at 1:45 am Oh…now I see where we Canadians get our “politeness” from! Reply Gus Cairns says: June 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm 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”. Reply Ebi Atawodi says: June 9, 2011 at 11:41 am I am particularly fond of interesting and that drawn out hmmm you speak of Gus. Love it. Reply Cliff Jones says: June 12, 2011 at 12:12 am I like this posting and it should be pointed out that Americans, speaking to other Americans, speak with the same kind of disquieting subterfuge. Reply Miganoush says: June 13, 2011 at 4:41 am 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… Reply Neil Craig says: June 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm But when a Japanese says “quite good” he means “you’ve blown it”. Reply Londoner1998 says: December 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm 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. Reply Deepa says: January 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm Neil, at least in the old days, when an Indian said “quite good” it meant “excellent” 😉 Reply Pam Burton says: January 23, 2012 at 5:25 am 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.” Reply Kerri says: February 2, 2012 at 5:28 am …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!” Reply David H says: February 11, 2012 at 2:37 am 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” Reply Foam Wrecker says: February 23, 2012 at 11:46 am “When you get a minute” means “Do this immediately” what others think “There’s no rush to get this done” Reply Peter Atkin says: March 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm 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. Reply christine san jose says: January 18, 2013 at 5:00 am Darn it, stop giving all our secrets away! We understand each other perfectly, thank you (which is surely the aim of the game). Reply Ted says: May 24, 2013 at 4:09 am Brits would also say “Let’s keep in touch” which tends to mean “I never want to see or hear from you again”. Reply Dick says: October 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm And “Satisfactory” in a report usually means “pretty unsatisfactory” Reply Horea says: February 4, 2014 at 10:31 pm 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. Reply Thierry says: November 8, 2015 at 6:46 am This “polite diplomatic language” is not unique to only british ! They (you?) don’t have a monopoly on “double-talk”..it’s probably the most widely shared thing in the world Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.