Sometimes British reticence means that they don't say what they mean or use idioms that make sense only to themselves. Here are few that can confuse.
“I hear what you say”, this means that the person can hear, but probably does not agree with anything you are saying
“I agree, up to a point” I don't agree at all
“That is very courageous!” That is foolhardy”
“we will put that on the shelf” The subject is interesting but we are going to do nothing about it
“we will leave that on the table” the subject is interesting and we need to do something about it
“that is very interesting” please don't tell me any more about that or this is very interesting
“I know a little about this” I am a world expert
Can you suggest any more?
I will let you know = No
Do you want to go to the pub this weekend ?
"I will let you know ."
You can be almost certain that they wont want to go or wont show up when they say "i will let you know"
" Don't get me wrong ..." means that you probably will.
"No offence, but..." means they will definitely offend you.
" I don't want to be rude, but..." means you will.
These occur in personal life as well as business life: (Don't take the following statements as hard & fast rules, many are merely jokes and ways that words "could" be interpreted)
"It's not you, it's me" this means you are definitely the problem.
"I'll keep your resumé on file" your resumé is now in the garbage
"Let's get together sometime" We'll never see each other again
"I can't go out with you but it's not because you're XXX" It's because you're XXX
"I love your car" You seem wealthy
"Your job sounds interesting" you seem poor
"Your family is unique" Yikes, where is the door, get me out of here.
"Are you wearing that?" Don't wear that!
"Do these jeans make my butt look fat?" Answer yes and you will die.
"Do you think I'm pretty?" Answer yes or you will die.
"Let's just be friends." You'll never see me again.
There was no misunderstand or confusion at all when I lived in England and someone who was to be part of my new family said directly to be 12 hours after my arrival ' Why are you overweight ? ' And clearly no misunderstanding when a member of that same family said ' if you weren't so heavy, you would not have a flat tire on your bike ' and last but not least, that I am nothing but a 'paper pusher '.
I have two Uni degrees and worked in social services with children in foster care and adoption, none of his people went to school past the age of 15, so not only rude and insulted, but clearly not true.
After loving England for well over 40 years, and this marriage being called off, the shine has come off the apple and I no longer feel blanket statements can be made about the English courtesy and reticience, many speak their minds freely right to your face.
SC, I'd not seen the Graniad article (for those who do not know the Guardian used to be famous for spelling mistakes) good to see.
To all, Elizabeth and I are cool. :-)