What Brits say v what they mean – handy de-coding device

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]Anglo vs EU

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24 Responses to “What Brits say v what they mean – handy de-coding device”
  1. Leah Pybus

    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…

  2. 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”.

  3. Londoner1998

    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.

  4. Kerri

    …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!”

  5. 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.

  6. Horea

    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.

  7. Thierry

    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

  8. Peter Thompson

    The Americans don’t understand British speak, nor Aus speak for that matter, because they generally are not very bright …………….. sad but true. In other words, they are stupid.

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