Many years ago a friend passed on a funny document, knowing how much I’d love it. (Thanks Roger!) I’m not sure of its origins but as I understood it, it originated at Royal Dutch Shell where it was circulated as a joke between Dutch employees who were often struggling to understand the indirect remarks of their British colleagues. I could be totally wrong about that though, so readers do please tell me if you know anything about its history.
If it’s hard to read my much copied version, you might like to check out another version that turned up on the Economist blog a while ago.
When I’ve shown it to students, I’ve often wondered if it would work better as a video exercise, so they could hear the tone of voice and see the accompanying body language. So when I get time and can find a willing British English speaker, I’ll have a stab at making a video. So watch this space and please tell me if you think your students might find it amusing. Also, do you think Americans would be as indirect?