Monday, November 19, 2007

Right. Absolutely.

This post is about the way English use their language. Two words and the meaning behind them.

Absolutely is a word that some Brits tend to use a lot. Absolutely is a word to back up whatever you were saying or to happily agree with another person. It reminds me of how the Germans use the word genau (meaning - exactly. Read more about the genau phenomenon here). Basically when you hear it, you can take it to mean yes and the person just wants to be a bit more emphatic about it. Be careful, because it can be used to overcompensate for the person actually being not 100% certain of the answer. As an example, there's a good quote in the movie The English Patient. The hero (Lazlo) and heroine (Katharine) have crashed their plane in the desert and Katharine is badly injured.
She asks Lazlo, "Will we be alright?"
He answers, "Yes. Yes, absolutely."
Her reply is "'Yes' is a comfort. 'Absolutely' is not."
A useful thing to remember when you hear the word.

Right is a different story. When a Brit says the word, "right" after you have made some sort of statement, it doesn't mean they agree with you. It means, "I heard you what you said and I understand the words and I'm acknowledging that you said it. However, I'm not convinced that you are correct in what you are saying but I'm too polite to immediately say so, or I need a minute or two to get over the shock of what you told me."
It usually has a certain tone to it as well. The pitch goes up on the long I sound and then comes down quickly to finish on the T. That's more the surprised acknowledgement "right". If it's a longer sound on the R and the pitch goes down the entire way, it's likely that the speaker doesn't believe you for a second or is very unhappy with what you said.

Speaker A: "Did you know that Prince Philip is from Vanuatu?"
Speaker B: "R/igh\t" (That's news to me and I'm not quite sure what to say to you now)

Speaker A: "You have done this all wrong and you are going to have to do it again."
Speaker B: "Rrr\ight" (You're my boss so I'm not saying anything else but if I could...)

Of course, this isn't the hard and fast way either word is used. Just something I've noticed over the course of living here that seems to hold true a good part of the time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feel the Heat

...or rather, feel the lack of heat. There was a very heavy frost last night here and tonight the temperature is supposed to drop down to -3°C or so. I'm getting a good idea of why the Victorians always wore hats to bed. Actually, that's not so true; our bedrooms upstairs are pretty comfortable. It's our downstairs that is cold. I don't mean it's slightly cool, it's Cold with a capital C. We only have single-paned glass throughout the house, plus the walls in the kitchen are only one brick thick, plus poor insulation around the drafty doors, plus no insulation in the attic, plus plus plus. This adds up to cold. The temperature this morning in the bathroom was 13°, which is a degree or two warmer than it was in the kitchen. The kitchen, as you might have worked out for yourself, is by far the coldest room in the house. Great for doing baking on a hot day - not so great for making breakfast in your bare feet on a frosty one.

We are doing what we can to keep the heat in. I have hung plastic sheeting over a few of the less-used windows and the front door. We keep the door to the side room closed to help stop the spread of cold. But if anyone has any good ideas on how to help keep the place warm, I'd love to read about them. Yes, replacing the windows with double glazing is a good idea, but not exactly a cheap idea, so some thinking outside the box would be nice. In the meantime, I shall be living by the motto of energy-conscious fathers everywhere and putting a(nother) sweater on.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Home Alone

For the first time since we moved into our new house, we are without houseguests. G's dad left yesterday and my mom left this morning. I have real mixed emotions about it. It was great having them here, especially have G's dad here to help us out so much. It was also good for Lena to have interaction with different people and for me to have the freedom to pop out for a few minutes, knowing there was someone there to look after her. There were plenty of positives.

But it's also nice to have our new home to ourselves and to really be able to "claim" it for us. I'm looking forward to us making our mark on the place, although hopefully NOT marks in the form of crayon on the walls and rugs.