You know those phrases that frankly we all use to “soften the blow”??? I would love to meet the brilliant mind that introduced those to our cultural. For example, “Bless her/his heart”. I picked this phrase up after I started hanging out with my country friends in college. They would mention a friend, smile, shake their head, say “Bless their heart” and then same something down right ugly. Example:
“Bless her heart, she just can’t sing for her life. When I here her sing I want to go and jump into a pit of venomous snakes…but bless her heart.”
Or they say “Now I would say this to their face, if they were here…” That is absolutely not true, would you really say that to the person if they were standing right there? Okay, maybe you would, but would you say it to the person if they were standing right there with their grandma…probably not. Those country folks are tricky with their phrases, because I would leave an evening with them thinking that country people are just the sweetest people I have ever met. THEN I would recount all of the Bless her hearts, I know they mean wells or I would say it to their faces and realize maybe they aren’t so nice after all.
There are also phrases, which I mostly picked up from my northern influence that are more direct like:
• “I don’t mean to be rude but if you don’t step up off my lawn I might just…”
• “Don’t take it personally but your breath stinks”
I also recall a phrase that I use to be direct, but appear that I am actually being indirect. This is the “I feel” phrase. I feel like eating at Cheddars tonight, I feel like we should go to the lake, I feel like I want a chocolate chip cookie. These are all things that I want directly, but have acquired the tendency to use as a cushion to the truth or a filler as I actually decide what I want “I feel like (pause) pizza for diner”. Really I don’t feel like a piece of pizza, I just want to eat pizza.
As I studied Spanish the summer in Costa Rica, these are the cultural things I slowly began to notice. For example “lo que”. I would began all of my sentences with “lo que” which means “its that”. This way I could think about what I was going to say next. So I wonder what other phrasal crutches Spanish speakers use to soften the blow, or what new phrasal crutches we might develop in the future.
8 months ago