When I moved to England in November 2016, I was already expecting cultural shocks. From the moment on the train from Gatwick to London Victoria station, hearing the Queen’s English, when a lady was saying “Can I give you a ring later?” with an elegant, British accent, I laughed, not that I am mocking at them, but I knew it was a start of something. Something interesting.
After working at an environmental NGO for over a year, I further understand what people meant by British culture.
Let’s rewind and let me tell you what British people say confused me the first few months I was here. Now I realize it is just normal and what they use in their everyday life.
Growing up in Hong Kong and having spent a few years in the United States, hearing this phrase for the first time sounds like “Are you freaking all right?”, as if I am acting weird, wasn’t wearing pants walking on streets or I was beaten up by someone and have bruises on my face. I also don’t know what to respond either. Am I supposed to say, ” I am alright?” I honestly don’t know. :p
How did you find it?
I am taking it too literally. When I was on a trip to Piedra del Penol near Medellin, Colombia, after we climbed a short hike to the top of a lookout point, a friend from Manchester asked, “how did you find it?” Then I was thinking “hmmm… was I supposed to be looking for something? Does he mean in what ways do I find something?” He saw my confusing face and added, “what do you think?” Ahh…
After spending a year in at this company ( I appreciate and I am thankful I am surrounded by really friendly colleagues, which made my transition to the country a lot easier:D ), I have come across many phrases that show how polite British people are. I honestly think these phrases are fine, but it could have different meanings more than they sound. I also think people in general say these to show politeness and professionalism, regardless of where they are from.
You must visit my grandparents. / You must come for dinner.
If you just say it to be nice, f*ck that.
Adding “if that’s okay” at the end of a request
e.g. I am running late. Can we meet at 12:15 pm, if that’s okay?
If I say it is not okay, does that mean you will change your mind and be on time again? F*ck that.
Using “kindly” in a request
e.g. Can I just kindly ask you to respond to that?
Sounds like “Can you just fu*cking respond to that?” If you are kind, you show it by what you do. Rephrase it. Just like a humble person would not be broadcasting on the radio saying “Hey I am a humble person.” So just go right to the point in a sincere way.
I can’t complain; I am not pointing fingers; I don’t want to an asshole
That means you are.
When things get tricky, confusing, or when it comes to things that are ridiculous or boring, “interesting” is not the right word to use.
If you hear British people say “that is an interesting point”, don’t be happy too soon. :p It might mean you are absolutely ridiculous.
I understand that sometimes it is nice to use euphemism and to show politeness, but it is also cool to get a balance between that and being your genuine self. It might just be me…