English and the English in Wimbledon

Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of Wimbledon tennis club, quoted in full by the International Herald Tribune- no doubt for the amusement of their American readers:

“We take very seriously being a sort of world-class event, hopefully”

“And to a degree there’s always been those people who have said it’s a bit cloistered. Maybe with the roof off, I don’t know, it is going to get people more excited”

Great fencing language! (As well as the much despised but almost standard There has been people). He could almost be speaking Japanese with that much use of vagueness. No wonder British English is so popular in Japan (although a certain amount of anti-Americanism is also involved). And ditto as a Brit learning Japanese, you can really express the way you don’t want express yourself.

The most fluent foreigner I have ever met was Italian, but there was something utterly un-Japanese about the way she spoke- no umming and ahhing at all. Japanese and British English must be the only two languages where you make yourself sound more like the natives by lacking fluency.

This entry was posted in Teaching English in Japan, TESOL, Vague language and hedging. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to English and the English in Wimbledon

  1. chris says:

    couldn’t agree more! being English in Japan i felt completely at ease with the pervasive dis-ease. Having North American and Australasian friends there really opened my eyes to the distance between our English speaking ‘family’. It felt like I was the sensitive youngest sibling that could empathise with all around me while my boisterous teenage brothers and sisters selfishly bulldozed their way through every encounter. Armed with my English fragility, I seemed to innately understand the unspoken minor nuances and embarrassments when communicating with Japanese people, whereas the other English native speakers would exacerbate an already fractured exchange.
    This is not a bashing session, I treasured the American and Australian frank and direct approach when no Japanese people were present, without that I would gradually build to explode with built-up English awkwardness!
    One outstanding example of Japanese convenience that I LOVED, was the sucking of teeth, the tilt of the head and then ‘chotto…..’ to indicate that your answer is ‘no’ but with absolutely no need for an explanation at all. This would be picked up immediately by the Japanese speaker and the subject would be changed spontaneously. Magically effective.

  2. Alex Case says:

    Absolutely, I use the chotto… like a native! Not sure a Spaniard could ever possibly get the hang of that one. Conversely, do you think that why the Americans and Vietnamese get on so well now after their little hiccup?

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