How to agree (or disagree)

Brit-speak:  Isn’t it?  Doesn’t it?  Wasn’t it?  Fill-in-the-blank it?

Ameri-speak:  I know, right?

Americanos, we are sometimes known for carrying ourselves in ways which we would proudly identify as embodying confidence, panache, and that all important swagger.  Other cultures would instead quickly point it out as brash arrogance.

I remember when one of The Native’s best men saw this video a few years ago.  

The video finished and he said, “Americans are way too confident” as I’m sure he quietly thanked the good Lord that The Native and I had gotten married a couple of years earlier because I TOTALLY would have.  You see, it isn’t very British to do flying somersaults and to wave your bottom around a church aisle, you know.

So, I’ve noticed that over the years to avoid appearing as though they are big-headed, bottom-waving narcissists there is something they do after any statement they make – they politely and rhetorically ask you to agree.

For example:  A Brit wouldn’t dare say something so bold as, “Hitler was a nasty piece of work.”  No, no, that would be too opinionated.  Instead they’d say:

Hitler was a nasty piece of work, wasn’t he?  

Who would disagree?  Who?!  They don’t actually expect you to say, “Actually, I think he was just misunderstood.”  Yet they won’t say it as a matter of fact – the invitation to disagree has to be there.

Other statements a British person might make:

  • Oh, my eyelashes have icicles on them.  I think they’ve actually  broken off my face.  It’s very cold, isn’t it?
  • We are going to royally muck up the 2012 Olympics and become the laughing stock of the world, aren’t we?  
  • Ryan Gosling saw me  while filming in London, proposed on the spot, and wants to whisk me away to Italy to elope.  It sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?   

Just say what you think.  Own it, Brits.  It’s okay.  I promise not to assume you’re going to run off to shake what your mama gave you up and down the corridors of  St. Pauls if you state your opinion.

Brits, where you seem like you don’t want to raise any eyebrows by saying something too contentious, for as confident as they often seem, Americans tend to express their agreement in a strange way.

Here’s the conversation– 

Brody: So, my Dad totally bought me a Ferrari for my birthday.  It is the sweetest car I’ve ever seen.

Brody’s friend, Cody: I know, right?

Is Cody wondering whether he actually DOES know that it’s the sweetest car he’s ever seen?  Does Cody need Brody to tell him what is true and wonderful and right in this crazy mixed-up world?  Does sweet little Cody just need a little hand-holding?  He just doesn’t know, right?

You might hear someone say, “I know, right?” as a response from anything to someone who is stating that they’d like to change careers to someone who says that Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie is, hands-down, the best ice cream to ever grace the shelves of the world’s freezers.

Americans, perhaps it’s time to reacquaint ourselves with words and phrases like: yes,  no, I agree,  and that is interesting.

It seems, the Americanos have forgotten how to say we agree while Brits seem to fear saying something that others might disagree with – since that’s the case, it’s probably best for everyone if we avoid conversation with each other all together.

Sorry, The Native – it looks like we have to stop speaking……doesn’t it?

The Native:  I know, right?


10 thoughts on “How to agree (or disagree)

  1. scribblefingers

    I’m guilty on both sides! I do the Brit-speak unconsciously – I think it’s probably more of an offer for someone else to talk/offer their opinion than asking them to agree or disagree, but that’s just me. A British friend of mine has recently adopted my “I know, right?” for times when he doesn’t know what to say and thanked me for sharing it!

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      I know what you mean about the offer to talk, but often I feel they add that bit on the end when there’s nothing really to discuss. You Brits are quite good at manners; I always thought it stemmed from that somehow.

  2. Deborah

    Hahahaha!!!! Love this!!! I have a person in my life who ends every story, explanation, expression of opinion or piece of information with, “you know?” I can’t stand this!!! Sometimes I just want to say “No I don’t know, if I did know this already why are you wasting my time by telling me??” But I don’t, I usually just politely nod, because I assume she’s just looking for affirmation that I heard her. Other times I think she just wants to know that I agree with her, which I respond by either agreeing or putting my head down and politely changing the subject. Other times if I’m in the mood for a good confrontation I will disagree… everyone needs a little bantering of ideas from time to time. 🙂 Also how did you react when your friend said Americans are too confident? I hope you were more gracious than I would have been. I find myself oddly defensive of blanket statements about my countrymen when I am out of the country….

    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Ah no, it was harmless and he is DEFINITELY not the first to say that to me. An old lady once said to me she thoughts all Americans were and I quote, “…big heads.” Americans tend to talk much louder, honestly, so perhaps their loud voices are a part of why people think that, but I also think it’s their optimism. British people wouldn’t really tell their kids they can be Prime Minister if they wanted to – they’d probably discourage it! I think it gets misconstrued as arrogance. Who knows?

  3. Recipe Junkie

    Is that really what happens at weddings in America??? Actually, I quite fancy the idea of having a little boogy down the aisle (although I’d have to have another wedding, and probably find a new husband…). You’re so right about us Brits though – we’d never be so bold – and by addign the question at the end like that, what we’re doing is making sure the other party is included, thus making it harder to disagree – “Of course I’m right – aren’t I?”

  4. Pingback: Lost in Translation | dorkymum

  5. actuallymummy

    Gosh it’s impossible to get it right, isn’t it? We are all so different and it’s so easy to misunderstand each other. I know, right?

  6. Pingback: Smile Like You Mean It « Living Life as an Expat Parent

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