A friend posted this on Facebook and I just loved it. I'm sorry I've lost the original format but I'm sure the general idea is clear.
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 – 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 is a very brave proposal
You are insane
He thinks I have courage
A bit disappointing
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
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'.
I come from England and realised that I am guilty of using a few of these phrases! But as well as entertaining me it made me think of how we use language to conceal from ourselves various truths about the reality of weight loss.
In Vital Lies, Simple Truths, Daniel Goleman points out that "The mind can protect itself against anxiety by diminishing awareness", that is to insulate itself "from inconvenient facts". The main inconvenient fact regarding weight loss is that it's not easy and once achieved requires constant vigilance - that extra weight is waiting in the wings for its cue to return to the stage.
Examples of the kind of language I'm capable of using to express my unwillingness to undertake the effort required for weight loss and maintenance (with the truth of what I think I'm really telling myself in brackets) are:
I don't have time. (I'd rather read my book, watch tv, play with the cmputer).
I can't afford the food. (I'd rather spend it on a magazine than healthy food.).
It's too hard. (I can't be bothered).
I'll start tomorrow, or after the party, or after Christmas. (Maybe, or pigs might fly).
It's healthy food. (So I'll eat oodles of it.)
I'm on holiday, it's a celebration. (Permission to gorge.).
I'm sure SP members could add many more to this list! Feel free to do so.
Then, perhaps, we will stop fooling ourselves?