In the last blog I spoke about ‘personal space’ and distance. Maybe it’s ‘a British thing’, as one of my North American colleagues once pointed out, but I’ll try to show how people often establish space through language.

Here’s the context: You’re in a room with a number of other people. It’s hot and you feel uncomfortable. There is a closed window on the other side of the room. You want to open it to provide air, but you don’t want to upset anyone. Do you:

  • Suffer in silence hoping it will get better.
  • Hope that someone else will open it.
  • Just get up and push past people in order to open it.
  • Ask someone else to open it.
  • Ask if you can open it yourself.

If you ask someone else to open it, what do you say?

  1. Oi! mush open the window. It’s boiling in here. (possibly with expletives)
  2. Can/could/will/would you open (mind opening) the window please?
  3. I’m awfully sorry to bother you but does everyone agree with me that it’s getting awfully stuffy in here and would anyone object if I were to open the window just a tad to let in a bit of fresh air, just a tad you understand, as I wouldn’t want anyone to get a stiff neck or anything from any subsequent draught although I don’t think there’s much wind today. Only if it’s OK with you, you understand, blah, blah…

Your homework this week is to listen out for examples like this. J Until then, Byee.