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YouGov survey: British sarcasm 'lost on Americans'

Oct 25, 2017
5,255
#1
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".

YouGov showed a number of common British phrases, including "with the greatest respect", "I'll bear it in mind" and "you must come for dinner", to Britons and Americans.

"While not all the phrases show a difference in transatlantic understanding, there are some statements where many Yanks are in danger of missing the serious passive aggression we Brits employ," YouGov said.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46846467
 
Oct 25, 2017
11,254
Sweden
#16
i came into this thread fully prepared to make fun of americans for being idiots but then
YouGov showed a number of common British phrases, including "with the greatest respect", "I'll bear it in mind" and "you must come for dinner", to Britons and Americans.
yeah i'd miss some of those too, lol and i'm a big fan of passive-aggressiveness and sarcasm
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,821
#24
I've always heard the American South is kind of broadly similar where you say nice things but what you actually mean is "i'm going to murder you and eat your heart"
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,147
#32
I've noticed in the last 15 years, Americans usage of sarcasm has grown enormously. It's become a thing on the internet and spread into normal life for a long time now, it's universal.

There was a time when they would mostly take anything you said as literal when there wasn't much contact between us. You could probably map out the progression from TV radio to early internet forums and podcasts where you'd get Americans misunderstanding and not even acknowledging an obvious sarcastic tone to where we are today.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,180
The Hundred Acre Wood
#34
Guess I'll just post what I said in the other thread:

----

I would imagine intonation has a lot to do with it-- I mean it seems weird to say "here's some text, is the person outright lying to you or not?" But hearing the intonation can change a lot of the meaning.

It's also cultural to certain locations. In LA for instance "we should get lunch sometime" means "it was nice seeing you briefly but I wouldn't be too bothered if we never crossed paths again"

That said Americans being exceedingly "direct" is both a blessing and a curse I suppose


I've always heard the American South is kind of broadly similar where you say nice things but what you actually mean is "i'm going to murder you and eat your heart"
Yeah that's kind of the secret about "southern hospitality"
For instance "Bless your heart" -> "You are an absolute fool"
 
Oct 30, 2017
423
#35
Yup. America's comedic chops have grown considerably over the last decade as one previous poster has stated.

After 9/11, the "war" in Iraq, and the recession (basically the 2000's)....the country really became skeptical, pessimistic, and jaded. It's a perfect receipe for sarcasm.

If you're born from Caribbean parents (like me) or grew up in a city (nyc for example), then sarcasm is a very very very familiar aspect of your upbringing.

Especially if your parents nation was linked to the UK (Jamaica).
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,322
#40
The funny thing about the relationship between the UK and US is that we in the UK can understand pretty much everything an American is saying. Idioms, context etc. But Americans get so lost between turns of phrase and accents and general awareness of another culture beyond the broadest stereotypes.
 
Oct 25, 2017
8,823
#48
What a bizarre article.

“We showed these foreigners some of our inside jokes and they didn’t know any of them!!”
 
Aug 20, 2018
3,627
#49
Brit: Mate
Yankee: Dude

Brit: Bollocks
Yankee: Bullshit

Brit: Chips
Yankee: Fries

Brit: Muppet
Yankee: Idiot

Brit: Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Yankee: Fuck that game last night!

Brit: Football
Yankee: Soccer

Brit: God save the queen!
Yankee: Fuck Trump!

:P