Know this universal warning: Beware of words and their meaning! Words are tricksy. Text is culturally malleable!
A UK associate and I exchanged email the other day. I live in the USA. He lives in the UK.
My associate told me he would be out-of-town for 10 days. I told him I would miss him and “I was not kidding.”
My UK associate kindly replied and wondered if/why I was being sarcastic.
I re-read my reply and wondered what I’d done to make him think I was being sarcastic and non-genuine in my expression of missing him.
Here is the reply:
Words and nuances, oh Dear!
Here [in the UK], when we say “I am not kidding,” it means the fun stop here lets get serious and is a call to arms. Hackles up, and squaring up for a fight! So in verbal tones it’s seen as sarcasm.
Don’t worry David, I am quite a calm person and am not going to offend just for the sake of it and I would need good cause. Even then I would want to hear the other person’s perspective and point of view.
I recall the incident where I made a comment first on your post without a great deal of clarity: I was wondering in these type of situations if it might be a good idea if I emailed you the comment first or at least alerted you to it….
It’s funny because my associate mentioned in his reply my reaction to a comment he made on one of my articles where I felt he was picking on me — when he was doing just the opposite!
I am further reminded of the shadowy meaning of words when I became ensnared in a cultural misunderstanding of the phrase — “Man to Man” — between my Nebraska-bred invocation of it and New Jersey common usage.
Beware! Text is tricksy and meaning and definition are not always clear!