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  • Hi everyone, I'm Susie from the UK,

  • welcome back to my channel!

  • Recently lots of students have asked me,

  • when British people say "that's interesting",

  • do they actually mean they think it’s boring

  • and not interesting?

  • They heard that the way British people speak isn’t very direct,

  • and we tend to beat around the bush.

  • It hasn’t been just one student who has asked me this,

  • there have been many.

  • So I thought I’d make a video to explain

  • whether we mean it’s interesting or not.

  • I found an article from The News Lens.

  • They have an article about British culture,

  • which I don't quite agree with.

  • So I want to share my views on this.

  • I’ll explain it sentence by sentence.

  • The first one is "It's not bad".

  • So if you go somewhere like maybe to see a movie

  • or a theatre production or you eat some food

  • and a British person saysyeah, it's not bad”.

  • They mean usually pretty much what they've said,

  • which is, it's fine.

  • It's nothing special.

  • It would be quite rude if you’d made some food for them

  • and they said, "It's not bad".

  • That means they didn't really like it that much.

  • Saying "It's not bad" means it's not bad.

  • It's not very good, but it's not bad.

  • As simple as that.

  • But most of all it depends on the person's tone, right?

  • If someone says, yeah it's not bad.

  • They probably think it’s pretty good.

  • If they say, err... it's not bad.

  • That means they don’t really like it. Right?

  • The next one is "It's interesting".

  • What do British people mean when they say "It's interesting"?

  • So one of my students is actually doing her PHD

  • and her supervisor kept saying to her,

  • oh yeah that's interesting

  • And so she felt like, oh no, they don't like it.

  • I was like, no, that's not what they mean.

  • They actually mean it's interesting.

  • I think it's terrible that many students think that

  • when I’m saying that what they said is interesting,

  • they think I’m lying.

  • When I say "It's interesting"

  • it's because I really find it interesting.

  • Now of course, sometimes you do get people saying

  • things are interesting

  • because they're not really sure what to say,

  • that does happen.

  • Maybe you say something that's just kind of outside of

  • their realm of what they know how to respond to,

  • like they just have nothing to say back to that.

  • Like if you say something completely random like,

  • I've been working on my ant collection,

  • or some random example,

  • then they might say, oh okay, that's interesting.

  • It's like, I don't really know what to say to you

  • but I'm happy for you,

  • and so I want to say something positive

  • because I want to encourage you.

  • So that's interesting.

  • But other times it actually is because it's interesting.

  • It's interesting means,

  • hmm it makes me think, in a good way.

  • Yeah so I don't want people to be walking around in England

  • thinking like,

  • oh everyone hates me

  • or thinks that what I'm saying is not interesting

  • or boring or they don't like me.

  • Because that's definitely not true.

  • It's either they really think what you're saying is interesting,

  • which is most of the time,

  • or they're not sure what to say

  • so they're just kind of trying to encourage you.

  • The next one is quite interesting,

  • It's probably my fault.

  • Again, the article says that

  • this means that it's definitely your fault.

  • If someone says it's my fault, it means it's your fault.

  • I wouldn't really say that's true.

  • If I say to someone "it's probably my fault",

  • then either it genuinely is my fault and I'm apologising,

  • or I'm trying to find a reason why it partly is my fault,

  • which again would be a truthful reason,

  • such as, oh I should have explained more clearly

  • or if I hadn't done that

  • then maybe this wouldn't have happened.

  • So I'm just sort of taking responsibility for my side

  • of the situation.

  • Maybe also that means that

  • you are a little bit at fault as well,

  • but I really don't think British people would really admit fault

  • if they weren’t at fault.

  • That would be quite strange to do I think.

  • Like why would you take on some responsibility

  • when it's not your problem?

  • But it's not as simple as me saying,

  • It's my fault means it's your fault,

  • like no.

  • The next example is "If you don't mind".

  • The author said that there was some food left over at dinner

  • and so he or she said, "Can I finish it?"

  • so as to avoid waste.

  • And the host instead of saying yes or no,

  • said "If you don't mind".

  • The meaning of "If you don't mind" here is,

  • sure yeah, please do, as long as you're okay with it.

  • Please help me finish this.

  • The next example is "I'll see what I can do",

  • and the example is if your partner is going to

  • take the rubbish out and you say,

  • oh would you mind also getting something from the shop

  • whilst you're outside

  • and they say "I'll see what I can do".

  • I think there's an element of truth to this one.

  • I'll see what I can do has a feeling of,

  • it might be a little inconvenient for me,

  • but I'm going to try and help you anyway.

  • It usually has a positive meaning.

  • It's like, I'm going to try and help you.

  • And then last of all, they go into some email starters like

  • Hope you're well

  • Hope you had a good weekend

  • I would say yes, that is definitely something

  • that's added in to be polite

  • and it's just a way to sort of establish good relations

  • I suppose.

  • It's like before you say, oh please do this for me,

  • you want to make sure that

  • you're putting the relationship before the task.

  • It's best to express your sincerity towards them

  • before asking them to do something.

  • Otherwise, they might just feel like,

  • oh you just want something from me,

  • you don't really care about me as a person,

  • which isn't really nice at work.

  • So it's kind of just to make the workplace

  • a little bit nicer I think.

  • What I would say is true is that

  • there is probably more passive aggression

  • in British culture compared to some others.

  • Passive aggression, which recently in slang

  • has been shortened to "pass-agg",

  • basically means when you're feeling kind of

  • angry and pissed off

  • but you just pretend like everything's fine like,

  • oh it's fine, you know, nothing.

  • I'm totally fine, yeah.

  • But to know the difference

  • you really just need to sense the tone.

  • So if someone says, oh that's interesting.

  • They might mean, what the f*** are you saying?

  • But if someone says, oh that's really interesting,

  • they mean,

  • I'm actually really interested in what you're saying,

  • please keep talking.

  • And if you're not sure what they mean,

  • just take the words at face value.

  • I think that’s a safer bet than thinking it's the opposite.

  • So if someone says, "that's interesting",

  • most of the time,

  • they do mean that it’s actually interesting.

  • I know it must be quite confusing because it kind of

  • seems like British people are hard to read.

  • Maybe it seems like there's a lot going on under the surface.

  • But it's usually just issues that we have with ourselves,

  • like I don't know, maybe they're shy

  • or just don't know how to deal with

  • social situations or something.

  • So I wouldn't take it personally

  • unless you have strong reason to believe that

  • this person is angry or upset with you.