Friday, December 22, 2006

Silly Post for Christmas Vacation 1

It's frightening to number posts, because there might be only one, after all. This silly post is about one aspect of the American use of English that I had trouble with. Statements such as: "I'm dying to see Borat!" or "I love peanut brittle but want to kill vanilla ice-cream." The strength of the statements.

When I adore something I tend to say "It's kinda nice." This contrast caused me some trouble right after arriving in the United States. A lot of people seemed to love me and want to be my bestfriendsforever, but then they didn't, not really. They were just being polite to a stranger. Now, where I come from a stranger will be regarded as one for about three generations, and I am comfortable with that.

Similar problems occur with physical space. How close can one go to a person without getting into his or her space? That's fairly culture-dependent, but it can cause problems when someone hugs you and you freeze, not because you don't like the person doing the hugging but because hugging to you means something quite different. Yet the outcome usually is that the hugger is hurt by the freezing of the huggee.

These problems tend to solve themselves with time, and I don't have any recent bad experiences. But I've noticed while traveling that similar dilemmas are not that unusual.