It’s So Good! 😀 (Talking to Americans with energy)
Sometimes I worry I’m not enthusiastic enough for America.
Even though a day doesn’t go by here without me expressing joy about something (mostly it’ll be sitting on a shelf in Kroger), friends and co-workers routinely check whether I’m happy.
Thing is, I’m pretty content, but American doesn’t seem convinced.
Perhaps my tone is inadequate. After all, I’m told that British people sound sarcastic to American ears. Do I need to master a different set of gestures and facial expressions to convey meaning, or is it more about vocabulary and tone?
Let’s consider the following American phrases:
It’s so good!
This applies to anything you’re eating the first fork/spoonful of, and you must say it the moment the food hits your tongue otherwise you are gravely offending the cook.
I don’t care if it’s hot (all the better — the fanning of your open-mouth with your hand will add to the effect) and I don’t care if you don’t like talking with your mouth full. Etiquette will lapse for a magical two-second period of time.
And hey, if you don’t say it, that means you hate it.
It’s worth noting that only adults say, or are expected to say, this phrase. Children will never say it, and they would certainly never mean it. Children are either being forced to eat something they hate or they are eating the one thing they love.
But even when they’re eating McFood, they won’t use the phrase because they are excellent multi-taskers and are busy formulating the next question to pop out of their mouths, namely “When are we going home?” and “I’m cold” and “My head hurts” and “It’s not fair,” all said with an equally impressive form of whiny enthusiasm.
And no, I’m not suggesting that children are any more charming in the UK.
They use this one a lot here. I could on one level learn to embrace it; the sarcastic, deadpan level. Unfortunately, saying this word with a British accent sounds ridiculous. It only sounds right in American.
And to be clear, the dictionary definition doesn’t apply.
Awesome to the rest of the world means something that fills us with awe, like waking up in the morning, looking out the bedroom window to find two rising suns.
In America, “awesome” means “fine” expressed with energy — so don’t worry that your American co-workers are having a better time than you — their awesome weekend consisted of waiting an hour for a table at O’Charley’s on Saturday and buying the wrong size of window blinds from Home Depot on Sunday (I was there too, I saw them).
This is a word I learned from watching Dr. Phil and Judge Judy before I emigrated. It means “very yes” and is used in any situation when a simple affirmative isn’t enough, which is all the time.
I have no clue!
This is a way to express our ignorance with gusto.
The British use a contracted version, “I’ve no idea” — this is muttered more than said, and with typically British verbal Jujutsu, it’s the other person who ends up looking stupid for asking the question in the first place.
Americans don’t mutter. They broadcast. Their “I have no clue” is used in situations where you’d think they really would have a clue e.g. where a sibling is, what time they got to work, where they left their car/phone/wallet.
It’s never used in contexts where they could reasonably claim ignorance e.g. what happens when you die, or why someone else’s marriage is their business. On issues like that, they have a great many clues.
Bob, our intern from 2016, fit in so well because of his British look of disdain.
I’m left with a question. If I start using these phrases, finally caving to the pressure after all this time, will America start having confidence in my own happiness?
I’ve no idea.
But I’m happy to experiment. So this weekend, I promise to use all the above phrases, and with my best American tone. Hell, I may use them all in the same conversation and with the same person. My server at IHOP, perhaps. The pancakes are almost awesome, so it’s not such a stretch.
I’ll let you know if America becomes convinced of my happiness or, when faced with such an abundance of enthusiasm, they turn British and ask, “What are you on?”
Tried Working English?