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View Full Version : Language: What the British really mean



pywong
3rd September 2013, 06:07 PM
Translation table explaining the truth behind British politeness becomes internet hit (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10280244/Translation-table-explaining-the-truth-behind-British-politeness-becomes-internet-hit.html)
The British trait of being too polite to speak one's mind has led to a table translating numerous hollow English phrases becoming an internet hit.http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02199/rexfeatures_157297_2199561b.jpgHugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral is the epitome of British politeness Photo: REX FEATURES








http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02441/Alice_Philipson_2441739a.jpg (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/alice-philipson/)
By Alice Philipson (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/alice-philipson/)

11:46AM BST 02 Sep 2013



The table sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they're speaking Ė especially for those take every word at face value.



Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include 'you must come for dinner', which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite.



The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence "with the greatest respect ...', they actually mean 'I think you are an idiot'.






WHAT THE BRITISH SAY

WHAT THE BRITISH MEAN

WHAT FOREIGNERS UNDERSTAND



I hear what you say

I disagree and do not want to discuss it further

He accepts my point of view



With the greatest respect

You are an idiot

He is listening to me



That's not bad

That's good

That's poor



That is a very brave proposal

You are insane

He thinks I have courage



Quite good

A bit disappointing

Quite good



I would suggest

Do it or be prepared to justify yourself

Think about the idea, but do what you like



Oh, incidentally/ by the way

The primary purpose of our discussion is

That is not very important



I was a bit disappointed that

I am annoyed that

It doesn't really matter



Very interesting

That is clearly nonsense

They are impressed



I'll bear it in mind

I've forgotten it already

They will probably do it



I'm sure it's my fault

It's your fault

Why do they think it was their fault?



You must come for dinner

It's not an invitation, I'm just being polite

I will get an invitation soon



I almost agree

I don't agree at all

He's not far from agreement



I only have a few minor comments

Please rewrite completely

He has found a few typos



Could we consider some other options

I don't like your idea

They have not yet decided



The table points out that when Britons say 'I'm sure it's my fault', it actually means 'it's your fault'.

It also reveals that 'very interesting' can often mean 'that is clearly nonsense'.


The table, which has been posted on an number of blogs, has attracted thousands of comments from both Britons and foreigners claiming the interpretations are true to life.


Duncan Green, a strategic adviser for Oxfam who posted it online, described it as "a handy guide for our fellow Europeans and others trying to fathom weaselly Brit-speak".


Mr Green said: "Sadly, I didnít write it. Itís just one of those great things that is being passed around on the internet."


Although the author of the table is unconfirmed, it is thought it may have originally been drawn up by a Dutch company as an attempt to help employees working in the UK.