• Two nations, common language?

    Americans have an interesting way with the English language, and their use of understatement is sometimes misunderstood.

    On LinkedIn, someone asked a group if anyone had experience of training virtually. One person replied: yes, I have both coached people virtually as well as conducted webinars. Is there something in particular I can share with you?

    I have been careful to reproduce the words exactly, to avoid misrepresentation.

    The reply to that was: “Thanks for the offer. I have a lot of experience (myself) …”

    Clearly he thought she was offering to share the training with him, muscling in on his client, so to speak. I thought so too, when first I read it. On reading it again, however, I realised that her offer to “share with you” related to the information or knowledge that she had about this training medium.

    Far from wanting a share of his assignment (taking) she was offering to share her knowledge (giving).

    It’s a strange expression, this “share with you”. It’s an American euphemism that can so easily be misunderstood.

    On the whole I think it’s better to speak/write plainly.

    However, certain words have very different meanings on both sides of the pond. “Quite” is one such example. In Britain, “quite” is a modifier, usually signifying less than total commitment, as in “I quite like it.” In the US, that same expression means “I like it a lot.”

    Where did the confusion arise? Actually, right here in Britain. Consider this: “It was quite amazing!” In this case, “quite” means “very”.

    Yes, two nations divided by a common language. But one of those nations is already divided internally

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