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It's all fun and games!

As a foreign speaker in the UK, I often found myself wondering what my interlocutor really meant by saying something seemingly innocuous whilst looking genuinely flustered.

It is quite normal to start by questioning your knowledge of the language, especially when you are still grappling with the complexities of it. After a few years, however, it really becomes clear when words, tone and body language are mismatched and that it is in the DNA of the Brits to often say something without really meaning it.

Don't get me wrong, this is not at all due to innate insincerity or deliberate deceitfullness, quite the opposite! Britons, and forgive me if I may be stereotyping here a little, tend to avoid confrontation or difficult converstations as much as they can and have perfected a number of ways of working around it. Let me explain. If you express your opinion and someone replies to you "I am listening", it means they are intrigued by your proposition and want to know more. Instead, if someone says to you "I hear what you are saying", it does not bode well for your genius idea. To the oblivious Italian speaker, who is probably still trying to work out the nuances of the actual difference between the use of "to listen" and "to hear", this is more than lost in translation.

Another example came to me this morning from a really funny social media page called Very British Problems. If someone says to you "No harm done", consider the situation, context, tone and body language before thinking that you got away with it. It is likely that the "confrontation complex" kicked in and the real meaning is "you have caused complete and utter chaos!". Context is very important when learning how a language works and context plus culture is fundamental in understanding what is actually being said. Don't be disheartened; as they say in the UK, "it's all fun and games!".

Un po' di aiuto - keywords

often found myself wondering = mi sono spesso chiesta

seemingly innocuous = apparentemente innocuo

flustered = agitat@, confus@

grappling with the complexities = alle prese con le complessità (della lingua)

mismatched = contrastanti

Don't get me wrong = non interpretate male le mie intenzioni/parole

innate insincerity = falsità innata

deliberate deceitfullness = disonestà intenzionale

confrontation = il conflitto, il diverbio

have perfected = hanno messo a punto/perfezionato

working around it = aggirare l'ostacolo

intrigued by your proposition = incuriosit@ dalla vostra affermazione

it does not bode well for your genius idea = la vostra idea geniale non sta avendo molto successo

oblivious = ignar@

nuances = sfumature

No harm done = non è successo nulla di grave

got away with it = averla fatta franca

don't be disheartened = non demoralizzatevi

it's all fun and games = è un gran divertimento. (NB: 'it is NOT all fun and games' significa però che la situazione è spesso più complicata di ciò che sembri e 'it's all fun and games' detto in un contesto lavorativo in cui ci si sente frustrati può essere molto sarcastico!).


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