Bringing the learning home (Australian Learning & Teaching Council)

More on english politeness

Luke from UEA in the UK here, sharing some amusing instances of English politeness.

Linguistically speaking, politeness is marked by lower lexical density (spreading the same message over more words), like the difference between ‘Go away’ and ‘Excuse me, but if it would be amenable to you, would you be so kind as to please consider moving in a direction that is oriented away from my current situation?’

Well, I’ve found signs and packaging to be interesting markers of this kind of politeness in English society. From this:

to the ‘lightly salted tortilla-flavoured Mexican-style maize crisps’ that we would call ‘corn chips’, to this:

or this:

or the email I got from UEA Accommodation the other day:

‘we politely remind you that taps are turned off by turning them clockwise.’
Then, of course, there are the times when they aren’t so polite:

3 responses

  1. Luke —
    My wife just told me, after reading your latest epic post, that, ‘Luke is as freakish as you [meaning: me].’ I’m not sure if either or both or neither of us should be insulted. I know I’m suitably complemented as your posts are terribly insightful…

    which I suppose is a long and thus exceptionally polite way of saying, ‘Cool. Weeeeiiird.’

    You’re bagging some amazing photos — great eye for detail. And after your next post, I wanted to put a giant shark on our house. I haven’t told Tonia yet.

    And Miki says that you should tell Tilly ‘hi’ for her.

    May 21, 2011 at 9:10 am

  2. tonialeannegray

    Hi Luke–

    Let me just qualify my “freakish” statement (Greg made reference to in his post) — in my own Oz “politeness” terms (which I am sure you get).

    Basically, it means EXTRAORDINARY, SENSATIONAL and TOP SHELF. I hope my “politeness” is taken as intended – not as an insult.


    May 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

  3. Luke

    Hahaha no worries. I choose to be complimented. I use freakish in the same way haha.

    I passed on the hello to Til. I think she’s actually working on a post at the moment about our fifth travel disaster in Paris, so stay tuned!

    Supposedly the shark is an artistic comment on nuclear power, but I’m not seeing it.

    Ta for your comments.

    May 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm

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