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Culture – Translating What the Brits Say . . To What They Really Mean

Culture – Translating What the Brits Say . . To What They Really Mean

Last month I spent a week in North Carolina for my brother’s wedding.  What surprised me most was not the drinking water fountains in abundance, the SERIOUSLY nice people everywhere I went, the slow drawled speech or the constant cuisine of fried foods but rather how LOUD everyone was, and that strangers actually started conversations with me in places like elevators or a line at a restaurant.  Reverse culture shock struck again. So speaking of culture . . . A few weeks ago on Facebook someone posted the following list that made me laugh.  I have no idea who the author is (otherwise I would give credit), but the list was spot on to many Brits I’ve encountered who err on the side to being too polite.

A disclaimer though, this list doesn’t apply to close friends who, of course, can be brutally honest with you . . . .

Brit face




*1) I hear what you say 2) I disagree and do not want to discuss it further

     3) He accepts my point of view

*1) With the greatest respect    2) You are an idiot

     3) He is listening to me

*1) That’s not bad    2) That’s good   

     3) That’s poor

*1) That is a very brave proposal    2) You are insane

     3) He thinks I have courage

*1) Quite good   2) A bit disappointing

     3) Quite good

*1) I would suggest   2) Do it or be prepared to justify yourself

     3) Think about the idea, but do what you like

*1) Oh, incidentally/ by the way    2) The primary purpose of our discussion is

3) That is not very important

*1) I was a bit disappointed that   2) I am annoyed that

     3) It doesn’t really matter

*1) Very interesting    2) That is clearly nonsense   

     3) They are impressed

*1) I’ll bear it in mind    2) I’ve forgotten it already

     3) They will probably do it

*1) I’m sure it’s my fault    2) It’s your fault

     3) Why do they think it was their fault?

*1) You must come for dinner    2) It’s not an invitation, I’m just being polite

     3) I will get an invitation soon

*1) I almost agree    2) I don’t agree at all

     3) He’s not far from agreement

*1) I only have a few minor comments    2) Please rewrite completely

     3) He has found a few typos

*1) Could we consider some other options    2) I don’t like your idea

     3) They have not yet decided

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