How much of what we say to others really means the same thing? Virtually everyone knows the underlying pragmatics to our phrases, but if you defy them you’ll be told you’re wrong (even though you’re not…but that’s the aim of the game.)
Us Brits love a good language muck up with one another, but inevitably it proves very confusing (especially if you’re trying to learn the English Language and you have to start discovering all these sub-meanings to the basic definition!) Allow me to clear up a few of my favourites, so at least you know the next time someone says “What time do you call this?” you bet your sweet buns they’re not asking you to tell them it’s 10 minutes past 3…
- “No offence” = Prepare for me to say something that is going to offend you and you are going to hate me for, but can’t get explicitly angry about because I was oh so diplomatic.
- “Well, I guess I best leave you to it.” = Finally, I am able to make my great escape from your mundane company.
- “Yeah that’s great.” = That’s a completely average attempt, but it’ll have to do until you’ve left the room so I can do it properly.
- “I’m alright.” = I couldn’t be more down right now, and I’m making it pretty obvious with my intonation, but if you ask me about it I will tell you “Nothing” or get narky.
- “Each to their own” = Your taste is whack.
- “You must come over for dinner sometime” = It’s a politeness principle for me to offer you this invitation, but just know semantically there is nothing concrete about it. Please agree and do not approach me about it again.
- “I’ll bear that in mind.” = I literally have no interest in what you just recommended and will forget this topic was ever broached.
- “Oh, while we’re on the subject…” = I have deliberately steered the conversation here, as this matter was my primary reason for talking to you.
- “What’s this supposed to be?” = I know exactly what that is, you do not need to tell me, I simply want you to tell me why on earth you thought it’d be something I’d appreciate.
- “I just don’t know what to say.” =Wow, that’s the most ghastly thing I’ve ever received, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings so I’m going to feign that I’m speechless.
- “That isn’t half bad…” = I am actually beyond impressed right now, and possibly a little aroused as well.
You know what’s so annoying? I can guarantee that the list of pragmatics is only going to continue to grow and one day I’ll have to just give in to my telepathic skills. I know, it’s a massive sacrifice, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Talking of which…
Have you just boiled the kettle? = Can you make me a brew while you’re at it? Ta.