I’ve been lucky sufficient to have spent this weekfinish in the beautiful city of Elche on the south-east coast of Spain. The tvery own was the venue for this year’s Spain TESOL conference, an always-fantastic gathering of English language teachers, and it’s hard to imagine an extra perfect location for such points. Home to a UNESCO-protected orchard of over 200,000 palm trees, a castle that dates earlier thousands of years and plenty of Roman ruins, it really is a lovely corner of the world. I ran a 90-minute workshop on Saturday morning and then gave an hour-lengthy talk later in the day. On Saturday evening, I went out with some teachers and also miscellaneous old friends and also as is usual at such events, we started off by chatting around our day. A Germale frifinish of mine who was also talking at the conference asked me just how my sessions had gone, to which I responded I think they both went pretty well ….. even if I do say so myself. On hearing this, he rolled his eyes, laughed and also told me this was such a British means of saying things! “Why can’t you simply perform what normal civilization would certainly carry out and say they went well? You recognize they went well. You understand that I understand that they went well. Why this false modesty? Why execute you include also if I execute say so myself?”

It’s a great question – and also not the first time that fluent foreign friends have asked me around this stvariety phrase, so I’ve had the possibility to think around what is wrong through us and also why we can’t simply say somepoint was excellent if we think it was good! I think firstly there’s an extremely English dislike of boasting: Nobody wants to hear others talking as well proudly around their own achievements! It’s just viewed as being a little bit vulgar, a little bit undignified.

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Coupled through this is a love of understatement – of saying points in a way that makes points seem much less vital, substantial or severe than they really are. This is possibly ideal exemplified by a conversation I when had actually through a Colombian student of mine. He passed me on the stairs at job-related and also asked exactly how I was. “Not poor, thanks” I replied, as I regularly carry out. Little did I recognize that this one short expression would certainly act favor a red rag to a bull! “Not bad! Not bad!” he snorted. “Almethods not bad! You eat a delicious meal, it’s not negative. You see a beautiful womale. Not bad! You feel exceptional, incredible. You say not bad! Crazy civilization, you English!”


So there’s a deep-rooted cultural fear of sounding as well enthusiastic, however there’s else as well: a expertise that if you begin blowing your very own trumpet and also singing your very own praises, someone else will sheight you getting as well huge for your boots and will cut you down to size. Given our unhealthy and balanced obsession with course and also our fear of anyone appearing to be better than we are, it’s extremely widespread for friends to sheight each other from sounding also big-headed. As such, this kind of exchange is exceptionally common:

How did the talk go?

> Really well. It was good.

Even if you perform say so yourself!

The idea right here is that it’s not for you to say you were good. It’s for others to praise you rather. If you deserve it. Which you more than likely don’t! It’s a quick and also basic way of maintaining everyone at the same basic level and also of avoiding anyone in the group from obtaining ideas over their station. Given that we understand our friends are likely to do this kind of point to us if we are as well enthusiastic, it renders feeling to get the dig in initially and put ourselves down . . . before someone does it for us!

Of course, you might argue – and also trust me, friends of mine have actually over the yearsthat actually using the phrase even if I carry out say so myself is a form of arrogance in itself. It can be checked out as basically saying that you’re so sure your talk was good – and also are so certain that everyone else knows it too – that you don’t feel the need to make a huge song and dance about it, yet rather you play dvery own your achievements in a means that only the truly confident have the right to. Who knows? This may well be the correct interpretation.

Personally, of course, I couldn’t possibly comment.

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It would certainly be much also vulgar of me to carry out so!

Want to learn even more around British language and also culture? Take our ADVANCED LANGUAGE AND CULTURE course this summer.

Are tbelow any phrases like even if I do say so myself in your language? Why do you think that is?What would you say civilization in your country have actually a deep-rooted social fear of? Why?Is it normal in your country for friends to put each various other down and also cut each various other down to size?Have you ever before spoken at a conference? How did it go?Can you think of any type of structures near you that date earlier hundreds of years?

Zorka Sofieva says:

It was amazing to read. Thank you. The principle that one doesn’t need to be extremely enthusiastic exists in my language as well. It is expressed like this: “Too great is not for good.” or you have the right to say in Bulgarian “I don’t desire to boast, but….”or “In my humble opinion…” This is arrogant actually bereason it indicates one values their own opinion.Then why they say it is humble? You are appropriate, we don’t desire to offer the possibility to the others to ground us, so we carry out it ourselves. Human psychology…Asking in Bulgarian “How are you?” you deserve to hear in reply “Up and also down” which suggests precisely “Not bad” yet likewise not great. It is as to say “Don’t be jealous, people!” And “Don’t tell me around your problems, I have my very own.”