The Problem With No16 May 2007
Cem just pointed me to the blog USA Erklärt which attempts to explain in German certain things about the USA. When I saw the entry on Why Americans Don't Say What They Really Mean, I was struck by the passage
For example, it is considered crude to say "no" directly, therefore something else will be said that every Anglo-Saxon will understand as "no", but does not use the word "no".
I was bitten by this a couple of weeks ago. A couple days before the May Day bridge day, MamaMaus was on the phone with her sister-in-law and they thought it would be a great idea to invite their kids to visit Christopher that day, even though I had to work. I didn't think of much of MamaMaus volunteering my time as a babysitter, and would have much rather taken Christopher to the park or a movie or something, so I told her "no" as directly as I could:
I really don't know what I would do with them.
This was of course interpreted as "he would love for them to come", and thus I was reminded (once again) that to say no to a German you pretty much have to use a two by four with applied centrifugal force. The kids came on Monday, they were bored, I was bored, pretty much as expected. Next time I'll try to remember to be more direct.