GOOD PLACES TO START

What is pragmatics?
Putting my foot in my mouth
A guide for Brits driving in the US
What is sarcasm?
Sorry, I'm English
Are Americans more direct?
Politeness
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Metaphor shakes things up

Metaphor shakes things up

Learning to speak ‘merican is like trying to: catch the rain, nail jello to the wall, shoot pool with a rope, fold the New York Times in a high wind, leave New Orleans when a hurricane is coming, change the course of the Niagara Falls with a bucket… However, one of the fun things about [...]

Saying our goodbyes and the bulge

Saying our goodbyes and the bulge

Many thanks to Sabrina and Chris for their lovely observations of how we say goodbye. They have reminded me of something curious. We have an expression in British English which doesn’t seem to exist in ‘merican: ‘saying our goodbyes’ (plural). In ‘merican it would be ‘saying goodbye’ and of course we can say that in BrE [...]

How to drive an American nuts

How to drive an American nuts

When I’m presented with two alternatives, ‘I don’t mind’ seems like a logical response to me. You: ‘Coffee or tea?’ Me: ‘I don’t mind’. It sounds amenable – indicates a pleasant, easy-going sort of attitude and says ‘I don’t want to impose my wishes on you. I’ll go with the flow’. An AmE equivalent could be ‘I don’t care’, [...]

How it all started

How it all started

Ken Wilson – English Teaching Theatre, Mister Monday songs – has been sharing his story of how his career started. (If you haven’t read it yet, forget about this and get over there now). Ken has a delightful account of trainees screwing up in ‘teaching practice’ sessions and a great memory for details. By contrast, [...]

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(Un)Shared Meanings

American Life

Directness and Ambiguity

Politeness