Over the past year or so I’ve noticed a strange colloquial response in America from those who claim a Latin American culture and heritage.
The phrase — “I don’t blame you” — seems to be a
universal response to any statement made, but I’m not exactly certain
of its meaning and perhaps you can educate me.
Here’s one example from a local deli:
Me: I’m taking a break to have some coffee.
Latin American Friend: I don’t blame you.
Here’s an example in a university classroom:
Me: I’m sorry, I can’t give you financial support for the Fall semester.
Latin American Student: I don’t blame you.
Here’s another from a travel agency:
Me: I’d like to take a vacation to Arizona.
Latin American Travel Agent: I don’t blame you.
Now here are my questions:
- What does “blame” have to do with anything?
- Is “I don’t blame you” a genuine human response — or is it an automatically required cultural reply?
- When is “I don’t blame you” an inappropriate comment on a statement?
- What is the Caucasian equivalent of “I don’t blame you” in colloquial slang?
Thank you for your help!
don’t think means anything just react
What about the “blame” part, then, jaren? Doesn’t the blame mean anything in the utterance?
Phrase to mean uh-huh to let know listen
I think I understand what you’re saying, jaren — that phrase is like a head nod letting the speaker know you’re listening?
maybe, when it’s employed within a definite context and not completely non-sequitur, it’s long form for “I understand”.
saying ‘I understand’ would be too intimate among relative strangers, so it’s replaced by a phrase that’s moderately flippant (like you said, ‘what does blame have to do with it?’) and doesn’t have any sharp edges.
i suppose, the phrase also seems to imply that the speaker is non-hostile, and is therefore meant to put you at ease.
Excellent analysis, Dananjay!
Is there an Indian equivalent for, “I don’t blame you?”
i can’t think of any. perhaps a slight nod or a non-committal smile.
That makes sense, Dananjay, and I thank you for the extra exposition!