Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I came across this list about the apparent contradictions in communication by some English people.

Whilst it was probably intended as humour, as I am a learner of English and think that, in communication, the implicit is just as important as the literal meaning, could a native speaker please tell me how accurate the list is? Which statements are particularly true or particularly false?

What the English say:   I hear what you say
What is understood:     He accepts my point of view
What the English mean:  I disagree and do not wish to discuss it any further

What the English say:   With the greatest respect
What is understood:     He is listening to me
What the English mean:  I think you are wrong

What the English say:   Not bad
What is understood:     Poor or mediocre
What the English mean:  Good or very good

What the English say:   Quite good
What is understood:     Quite good
What the English mean:  A bit disappointing

What the English say:   Perhaps you would like to think about/I would suggest/It would be nice if
What is understood:     Think about the idea but do what you like
What the English mean:  This is an order. Do it or be prepared to justify yourself.

What the English say:   Where appropriate locally/Local flexibility
What is understood:     Do it if you can
What the English mean:  Do whatever you like

What the English say:   Oh, by the way/Incidentally
What is understood:     This is not very important
What the English mean:  This is the primary purpose of our discussion

What the English say:   It was a bit disappointing that/It is a pity you
What is understood:     It doesn't really matter
What the English mean:  I am most upset and cross

What the English say:   Very interesting
What is understood:     They are impressed
What the English mean:  I don't agree/I don't believe you

What the English say:   Could we consider some other options
What is understood:     They have not yet decided
What the English mean:  I don't like your idea

What the English say:   I'll bear it in mind
What is understood:     They will probably do it
What the English mean:  I will do nothing about it

What the English say:   Please think about that some more
What is understood:     Good idea, keep developing it
What the English mean:  It is a bad idea. Don't do it

What the English say:   I'm sure it is my fault
What is understood:     It was their fault
What the English mean:  It is your fault!

What the English say:   That is an original point of view
What is understood:     They like my ideas
What the English mean:  You must be crazy
share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by coleopterist, Jasper Loy, Zairja, Cameron, Carlo_R. Oct 16 '12 at 6:44

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2  
Open-ended questions, ones that deal with lists, etc., are considered to be non-constructive on this site. FWIW, depending on the context, most, if not all, of the expressions listed can be true. But such is the nature of language :) –  coleopterist Oct 16 '12 at 5:15
1  
The meaning of Quite good can be Surprisingly excellent in certain contexts –  Henry Oct 16 '12 at 6:39
1  
@coleopterist Although this question happens to involve a list, it doesn't ask for a list. It just asks if this list, while intended to be humorous, has any truth to it. Which it has. –  Mr Lister Oct 16 '12 at 6:47
1  
@coleopterist Yes, which statements in the given list! Not meant as "give me other examples". –  Mr Lister Oct 16 '12 at 6:51
1  
@MrLister While I agree with you that this isn't a list question, the question should remain closed as it is NARQ because it is simply asking about a very broad spectrum of phrases at once. –  waiwai933 Oct 16 '12 at 6:58
show 3 more comments