Remove ads

Introducing the LemonFools Personal Finance Calculators

British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

A virtual pub for off topic, light hearted pub related banter and discussion. No trainers
Itsallaguess
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2771
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 1:16 pm
Has thanked: 757 times
Been thanked: 1589 times

British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192927

Postby Itsallaguess » January 12th, 2019, 6:04 am

Britons like to think they have a "special relationship" with the US, based on a common language and cultural, historical and political ties.

But, according to one of the UK's most respected polling companies, there's one chasm the English language can't always bridge - the British love of passive-aggressive statements.

In the words of YouGov, "half of Americans wouldn't be able to tell that a Briton is calling them an idiot".


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46846467

Here's a chart from the above article, highlighting the chasm that's often found between the spoken word and the underlying meaning -

Image

Love it.....

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

Dod101
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2305
Joined: October 10th, 2017, 11:33 am
Has thanked: 417 times
Been thanked: 816 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192935

Postby Dod101 » January 12th, 2019, 7:46 am

Not sure that the title of your thread has much to do with it. I would say we Brits love understatement.

Dod

Raptor
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 1503
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 1:39 pm
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 273 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192937

Postby Raptor » January 12th, 2019, 8:04 am

Yes, my many years of working in and for American companies, sarcasm was great as the majority hadn't a clue and it went straight over their heads. Even better when the audience was mixed as Europeans would get it immediately.

My best one was a couple of years after Falklands I was on a training course in Santa Clara and at the end of course meal I was introduced to a "new" member of the training team who had spent the last 10 years in Argentina. He started on about the Malvinas being part of Argentina and should be handed over, other Europeans and an Aussie waded in against him. It was obvious he was aiming the remarks at me. Then he made a big mistake in saying that 200 years before they were part of Argentina and therefore should be their''s, everyone was surprised when I agreed. Then carried on that taking that into account we should wind back all borders 200 years. That way US, Canada, India, Australia etc would be British. He missed the point completely and lost the "plot". Everyone thought it hilarious. His boss was not amused though and he lost his job. My company took them over shortly after, so I would have got rid of him anyway.

Raptor

Itsallaguess
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2771
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 1:16 pm
Has thanked: 757 times
Been thanked: 1589 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192941

Postby Itsallaguess » January 12th, 2019, 8:46 am

Dod101 wrote:
Not sure that the title of your thread has much to do with it. I would say we Brits love understatement.


Hi Dod,

The title of the thread doesn't at all contradict your second statement, so I'm at a loss as to the point you're trying to make here to be honest?

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

Dod101
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2305
Joined: October 10th, 2017, 11:33 am
Has thanked: 417 times
Been thanked: 816 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192954

Postby Dod101 » January 12th, 2019, 9:31 am

I am not going to argue with you just that there is a big difference between sarcasm and understatement (or irony). Anyway I enjoyed your post.

Dod

TedSwippet
Lemon Slice
Posts: 302
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 12:57 pm
Has thanked: 32 times
Been thanked: 90 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192968

Postby TedSwippet » January 12th, 2019, 10:39 am

Itsallaguess wrote:The title of the thread doesn't at all contradict your second statement, so I'm at a loss as to the point you're trying to make here to be honest?

With the greatest respect, I hear what you say, and I would suggest that I almost agree.

:-)

tjh290633
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2645
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 11:20 am
Has thanked: 175 times
Been thanked: 828 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#192979

Postby tjh290633 » January 12th, 2019, 11:54 am

Not all Americans misunderstand. I once received a Fax from a Libyan Government organisation which I forwarded to a colleague over there, with the comment "I shall give it all the attention that it deserves". This was intercepted by the Finance Director who sent an immediate message "Under no circumstances have any communications with Libya, because the State Department has absolutely forbidden it".

As I said to my colleague, what did he think I was going to do? The colleague knew exactly what I meant. The other had, I think, had his sense of humour surgically removed.

TJH

chas49
Lemon Slice
Posts: 817
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 10:25 am
Has thanked: 68 times
Been thanked: 104 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193071

Postby chas49 » January 12th, 2019, 5:47 pm

TedSwippet wrote:
Itsallaguess wrote:The title of the thread doesn't at all contradict your second statement, so I'm at a loss as to the point you're trying to make here to be honest?

With the greatest respect, I hear what you say, and I would suggest that I almost agree.

:-)


I only have a few minor comments.

:)

Dod101
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2305
Joined: October 10th, 2017, 11:33 am
Has thanked: 417 times
Been thanked: 816 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193082

Postby Dod101 » January 12th, 2019, 6:47 pm

tjh290633 wrote:As I said to my colleague, what did he think I was going to do? The colleague knew exactly what I meant. The other had, I think, had his sense of humour surgically removed.


Two comments on that. My late wife came from the west coast of Scotland with a deal of Irish blood and used to say that we east coasters (I am not from Edinburgh but not that far away) had our sense of humour surgically removed at birth.

I am returning to Hong Kong for a visit shortly and I worked there for a long time. Most of my Chinese colleagues spoke good English but it was necessary to keep to literal statements otherwise it just got too complicated so when I returned to work in London I found it very strange to hear simple expressions like 'See you later' or 'Well that's knocked that on the head' because I was very inclined to take them literally!

I still do not think sarcasm is the right word for the subject of this thread.

Dod

sunnyjoe
Posts: 38
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 1:11 pm
Has thanked: 115 times
Been thanked: 15 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193423

Postby sunnyjoe » January 14th, 2019, 12:22 pm

Long ago, after my first business meeting in USA, I was advised by a colleague that I should not say "okay" in the meaningless continuity filler manner to which I had become accustomed in British conversation, because the Americans interpreted it as "he agrees with everything I said"

brightncheerful
Lemon Slice
Posts: 884
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 4:00 pm
Has thanked: 34 times
Been thanked: 102 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193434

Postby brightncheerful » January 14th, 2019, 12:45 pm

During her recuperation, Mrs Bnc is watching episodes of a American film on tv. Last week, after I had spoken with her about something she said 'thank you for reaching out."

I am now having to remember when I next speak with her about the same subject to do so with my arms outstretched in front of me.

Watis
Lemon Slice
Posts: 457
Joined: November 5th, 2016, 10:53 am
Has thanked: 28 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193438

Postby Watis » January 14th, 2019, 12:51 pm

brightncheerful wrote:During her recuperation, Mrs Bnc is watching episodes of a American film on tv. Last week, after I had spoken with her about something she said 'thank you for reaching out."

I am now having to remember when I next speak with her about the same subject to do so with my arms outstretched in front of me.


'Reaching out' - ugh!

For me, this phrase always brings to mind a diseased and withered hand slowly moving towards me, index finger extended.

Sorry if you're having your lunch!

Watis

brightncheerful
Lemon Slice
Posts: 884
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 4:00 pm
Has thanked: 34 times
Been thanked: 102 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193446

Postby brightncheerful » January 14th, 2019, 1:19 pm

American is a dialect of English.

kiloran
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 1529
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 9:24 am
Has thanked: 318 times
Been thanked: 641 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193473

Postby kiloran » January 14th, 2019, 3:43 pm

brightncheerful wrote:American is a dialect of English.

Spock: "It's english, Jim, but not as we know it"

--kiloran

Lootman
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 4719
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 3:58 pm
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 740 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#193482

Postby Lootman » January 14th, 2019, 4:47 pm

brightncheerful wrote:American is a dialect of English.

These days it would be more accurate to state that English is a dialect of American. In many countries it is American English that is taught in schools.

I am very sarcastic by nature but do not employ it when in the US as a snide sardonic remark is very likely to be taken literally, and then I feel like I've been mean. What Americans do find highly amusing is self-deprecation, presumably because nobody does that in the US where the norm is to big yourself up. Put yourself down and people think it's hilarious because it is so unexpected, And chicks dig it :)

DiamondEcho
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 2729
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 3:39 pm
Has thanked: 2006 times
Been thanked: 392 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#194153

Postby DiamondEcho » January 16th, 2019, 11:46 pm

Itsallaguess wrote:In the words of YouGov, "half of Americans wouldn't be able to tell that a Briton is calling them an idiot".Itsallaguess


Wow, aren't we so clever having a fraction of their liberty and GDP - clearly , woo-hoo! :lol:
More seriously, I find it odd how some Brits congratulate themselves on their humour, as if it's some private protected space, that foreigners are not allowed to enter into; and certainly 'can never understand'. IME almost no country outside the UK gets UK humour, the irony, double-entendres, and so on, but isn't that the point, it's coded and therein lies it's humour, to us, we join the final dots only in our heads.

didds
Lemon Quarter
Posts: 1758
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 12:04 pm
Has thanked: 636 times
Been thanked: 216 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#194178

Postby didds » January 17th, 2019, 8:30 am

probably derail here... do USAians have moire liberty than UKers? If so, in what way? (unless you mean they can carry guns I suppose).

didds

Skotch
Lemon Pip
Posts: 55
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 4:43 pm
Has thanked: 24 times
Been thanked: 9 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#194187

Postby Skotch » January 17th, 2019, 8:55 am

I happened to catch a bit of Andrew Marrs History of Modern Britain on BBC4 last night - at one point he was talking about UK troops fighting in Korea with the Americans. Apparently at one point, a British Troop Commander radio'ed to the American Base thet "We're in a bit of a pickle here" - essentially saying they were being pinned and mown down and suggesting that help be sent - this was completely misunderstood by the Americans who thought there was just a minor skirmish and warranted no help

TedSwippet
Lemon Slice
Posts: 302
Joined: November 4th, 2016, 12:57 pm
Has thanked: 32 times
Been thanked: 90 times

Re: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'....

#194246

Postby TedSwippet » January 17th, 2019, 12:25 pm

didds wrote:probably derail here... do USAians have more liberty than UKers?

Arguably, no. The Freedom House table for 2018 puts the UK at a freedom index of 94, compared with the US's 86 (a higher means more 'freedom' than a lower one). The associated report and methodology shows how Freedom House quantifies 'freedom'.


Return to “Beerpig's Snug”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests