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TOPIC: Indirect & Implied Speech: Saying exactly what you think might not be polite

Indirect & Implied Speech: Understanding Meaning From Context 3 years 1 month ago #7529

  • Chuck OysterCafe
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Understanding indirect and implied language in English can be difficult, so in this forum we are going to help you understand this style of communication a little bit better.

이번 강의에서는 간접적인 언어를 통해 하고 싶은 말을 돌려 말하는 방법을 가르쳐 드립니다. 보통 예의를 차리고 싶을 때 간접적인 언어를 사용하죠.

Although many English teachers claim English is a very direct language, this is not entirely true. In English, people often use indirect and implied speech as ways of expressing themselves in a more polite, humorous, or nuanced way.

In fact, when using English there are a range of contexts and situations where you are going to have to guess what the speaker’s true meaning is due to their use of indirect and/or implied speech.

Tip: Always think of the context of communication when someone is using indirect/implied speech. Guess what you think the speaker/author might be trying to say.

Remember: Guessing meaning from context is not simply done by looking at the literal meaning of the words, it also requires you to think about the context of the communication and then guess at the real message the speaker is trying to convey.

As always, we have provided a range of examples for you to examine to help you better understand this communication style.

Examples

1. Situation: In a restaurant.
Is there ketchup on that table? (True meaning = Pass me the ketchup from that table, please.)

2. Situation: In an office.
Wow. It is really stuffy in here! (True meaning = Please open the door/window.)

3. Situation: Talking about something your friend cooked.
Ben: So, how does it taste?
Archie: Umm…It’s interesting. (True meaning = The taste is not so good.)

4. Situation: Talking to a friend.
Billy: Time for a diet? (True meaning = You look fat.. / You have gained weight.)
Jean: What? No! I’m not fat; I’m cuddly. Plus, I love food too much.

In the next post you will get to see a funny example of why we don’t always speak in a direct way when using English.


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Last edit: by Chuck OysterCafe.

Indirect & Implied Speech: Saying exactly what you think might not be polite 3 years 1 month ago #7530

  • Chuck OysterCafe
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In this lesson, you will get to see an example of what a conversation would sound like if indirect language and/or implied speech was not used.

In the following clip you will notice the speakers are saying exactly what they want to say – that is, they are using very direct language.



As you know, in this type of situation you would probably use more indirect language that hides your true intention and meaning, as you do not want to offend your new neighbors.

The dialogue below shows the difference between direct and indirect language as used in the clip.

Real Life (An example of what a real conversation might sound like in a similar context.)
Lady with pie: Hi.
Lady in house: Oh, hi.
Lady with pie: Welcome to the neighborhood. I brought you this pie to say hello.
Lady in house: Wow! That smells amazing.
Lady with pie: Thanks. I hope you like it..
Lady in house: Did you want to come in and have a coffee or tea?
Lady with pie: Oh, if you have time.

Clip (This shows the true meaning of the above example dialogue based on the clip.)
Lady with pie: Hi.
Lady in house: Oh, hi.
Lady with pie: Welcome to the neighborhood. I brought you this pie to see if you’re weird.
Lady in house: Wow! That smells intrusive.
Lady with pie: It is.
Lady in house: Did you want to come in, maybe snoop around a bit?
Lady with pie: That’s why I’m here.
Narrator: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said what they meant?

As you can see, the commercial is showing the true meaning of what people really mean (or a close approximation) when they meet their new neighbors. Of course, in real life people don't say it directly, instead they use indirect speech to appear polite.

Bonus Words
weird (adj.): strange; not normal
snoop around (v.): to look around (in a sneaky way)
intrusive (adj.): causing disruption or annoyance through being unwelcome or uninvited

We hope this has helped you understand indirect and implied speech a little better. Check out our post on asking indirect questions right here!


OysterCafe.com - Keeping English Real!
영어 수업 - 오이스터카페


Check us out on Instagram!

Check out a sample of our lessons on YouTube!

Please Log in to join the conversation.

Last edit: by Chuck OysterCafe.
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