Author Topic: Do you get used to the irony and formality?  (Read 2171 times)

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Offline Liz30

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Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« on: July 23, 2012, 02:30:46 PM »
I'm not married but we are long distance friends.  :) I wasn't sure where to post this!

I always thought he was a very nice and kind man never really got some things he did until I was watching a British movie. The main character was making jokes even during a conversation about something serious and all of a sudden it clicked in my brain. Well 1) I started to like him more  <3 and 2) I then thought maybe it was culture so I searched google. I then read about irony and then made some of the other things he has said made sense too. I just didn't know he was joking at the time.

I read Watching The English and that was helpful especially about the understatements and how they try not to appear too earnest.

The other thing I find myself reacting too is sometimes he sounds so formal, it seems insincere. Does that make sense? Just to make it clear he is not insincere, but my first initial reaction I feel like it is. It's from the phrases he uses.


The understatements like it's phrased in that book are another thing. Once in a response to an email I sent about things between us, he used a phrase he was "more than happy" in reference to keeping things going. Do I cry in disappointment or am I reassured from that? lol

I'm started to recognize irony, but it takes me a while to process it. Before I would just get somewhat defensive and try to explain.  ;D I still start to now but I catch myself and try to see this is his style.

Do you get used to to it? I'm guessing IRL it will be less of a problem because it's not just written communication. It's just hard I end up feeling sad after we communicate sometimes.

Offline windycitywids

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2012, 07:12:06 PM »
Poor you.  You will get used to it the longer you know him. It's  confusing at first but it will come to you. Try watching more british shows and movies try Bridget Jones diary if you haven't already seen it it's a good laugh not altogether to realistic but fun anyway.
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Offline LaraMascara

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2012, 08:32:42 PM »
LOL - I love that post!

Adorable.

Yeah, my hubby uses "Not bad" where I would use "THAT IS TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!"

Anyway, "more than happy" means he is totally gushing with a huge amount of joy... So, be more than happy that he said he was more than happy!
“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

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Offline ymberlenis

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2012, 10:50:00 AM »
Yeah, my hubby uses "Not bad" where I would use "THAT IS TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!"


Exactly! For my husband, it's "nice" in that scenario, which took some getting used to. To me, "nice" means, "I didn't hate it, but it wasn't special." So when I first moved here and started trying to cook delicious dinners for us, when he said something was nice, I thought he was essentially underwhelmed. Now I know I need to add that recipe to the rotation. :P If he says it's "very nice," it's time to dance on the table in celebration!

You'll get used to it. In any relationship, you have to learn quirks and habits of the other person, and it's the same in this one. The "quirks" are cultural and probably more numerous here, but I think it's really special you took the time to understand the differences in communication.

In the meantime, I second the idea of watching more British TV and movies. I love doing that with my husband; he can explain the references and reactions I still don't get. A lot of times it sparks a lot of interesting conversations about our two cultures and how we think. :)
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Offline Cadenza

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2012, 03:01:55 PM »
I liked "An Englishman Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain" before I came to Wales, but now that I know the culture and bits of the Welsh language after living here, it's ten times funnier.  The Welsh don't do the understatement as much as the English, but DH is actually English and spent much of the growing up years in a proper boarding school, so it still comes out sometimes. :)

I would recommend talking to him more directly about what he means on things.  It may not be hugely comfortable for him, so don't draw the conversation out, but you can kind of make a joke of it to help learn how to communicate between each other  "Okay, what would that answer sound like in American tones?" "Is that British 'nice' or American 'nice'?"  Eventually you'll get a better read on things.

The classic example of the understatement was in the Korean War (I think) where an American troop left a British troop alone to get mowed down by the enemy after the British troop reported they were in a "spot of bother,"  which the Americans completely misunderstood.

I've also learned (on a much more frivolous side) to not feel bad if my husband says an outfit is "okay." He's also learned that to me, that means it's a polite way of saying I don't necessarily look very good rather than it being fit for purpose and appropriate (as he meant okay), and he tries to lavish a bit more praise if something is nice.

Offline sonofasailor

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 06:45:41 PM »
I have found the best way to cut through British irony is to bring up the War. And let's face it you have to sooner or later....it lies there like an unopened foolscap envelope marked 'private' on a deserted employee break room table.

I remember in an office I worked in....the light banter....ironicisms and cynicisms fluttering about....one thing leads to another and I say, "Well that's fine and all, but just remember that when the Germans come high-stepping across the Low Countries towards the Channel, we'll come to the rescue." Good heavens I found out that beneath it all, real feelings exist.

Try it. The next time your husband or wife is hungry and dinner is a bit late slide the plate in front of them and say, "Like the Yanks in '44, just in time."
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across - Sun Tzu

Offline LaraMascara

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 07:11:56 PM »
Yo... sonofasailor... LOLOLOLOL!!!!

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
“It was when I realised I had a new nationality: I was in exile. I am an adulterous resident: when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.” ― Suketu Mehta.

Married 04/13/11, in NYC.
Applied for Spouse Visa the following week, with express service, and I was approved 4 days later!
Arrived in the UK 05/20/11.
I took the stupid LIUK Test Oct. 2012.
We were granted ILR In Person in Croydon on 04/23/13.
Got BRP 2 days later, in mail box - it just appeared.

NEXT: The lil' red passpo

Offline Jennie

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 07:20:41 PM »
Ha. It is a well known fact in our flat that I win many an "argument" with DH by saying "Yeah, but we kicked your butt at Yorktown."

That said, I think it's not so much the irony as the completely. deadpan. delivery. that causes the confusion. There's always that moment where I think "you've got to be kidding?" "are you kidding?" just because they say it with such a straight face!

Offline Cadenza

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 10:04:39 PM »
That said, I think it's not so much the irony as the completely. deadpan. delivery. that causes the confusion. There's always that moment where I think "you've got to be kidding?" "are you kidding?" just because they say it with such a straight face!

That's what took a bit of getting used to for me--I still get caught in jokes often before I realise they are pulling my leg.  Bit slow on the uptake, I am. ;)

Offline Liz30

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 08:22:42 AM »
Another thing is making a big deal out of transitions? Sometimes it's like all these sentences, which sound insincere to me because they are so formal just to transition. Like when he wants to go, it's a couple of minutes before I know what he is communicating. It just sounds so formal to me and then I feel like is he just being polite? He makes such a big deal out of it then I feel like I was taking up his time.

He always has a litany of small talk questions. Now I see it, but before I would always half ruin our conversations thinking he was wanting to talk about what  my parents were up to, or the latest thing the president did. Sometimes when I see it is small talk I feel flustered like I don't always know what to answer or I miss it's small talk and think he really wants details.  :-\\\\
 

Offline chary

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 04:08:44 PM »
My US friends must have all been particularly ironic because I don't notice a difference.
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Offline HG

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 04:24:03 PM »
My US friends must have all been particularly ironic because I don't notice a difference.
I had a co-worker once say to me, "I thought americans don't do sarcasm-- you are one of the most sarcastic people I know!"

I do think it depends as much on the individual-- there are some formalities that I notice as differences though

Offline noirem

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Re: Do you get used to the irony and formality?
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 04:27:28 PM »
I've found British people can't tell when I'm joking because I'm too deadpan. Mind you, Americans never got it either. So much for moving to a country that gets me  :-\\\\