Monday, September 26, 2016

With the Greatest Respect…

Some astute person with one foot on each side of the English Channel (try that sometime and see how comfortable it is) has published a translation guide that may explain why the British chose to exit the European Union: it was all a big misunderstanding. Try as they might, the Brits and their Continental colleagues—or the Americans, for that matter—just don’t speak the same language. This is clear from the following examples:

What the British say:           What the British mean:            What the European hears:

“I hear what you say.”            “I disagree and do not               “He is sympathetic to my      
                                                wish to discuss it further.”          point of view.”

“With the greatest                   “You are an idiot.”                     “He greatly respects me."

“That’s not bad.”                     “That’s bad.”                             “That’s good.”

“Quite good.”                           “A bit disappointing.”               “Very good.”

“Very interesting.”                    “That is clearly nonsense.”       “He is very interested."

“I almost agree.”                       “I do not agree at all.”              “He is close to         

“That is a brave proposal.”       “You are insane.”                      “He thinks I’m courageous.”

“Oh, incidentally…”                   “This is the main point.”           “This is not important.”

“I’m sure it’s my fault.”              “It’s your fault.”                         “Why does he think it's his 

“I’ll bear it in mind.”                  “I have forgotten it already.”       “He’ll almost certainly do it.”

No one has ever understood what the Bard of Buffalo Bayou is saying, and that is not surprising.

            With the greatest respect, I hear what you say,
            I’ll bear it in mind, very good.
            That is not bad, I almost agree…
            How I hope that I’m misunderstood!

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