What do you say when you don’t understand someone? “Pardon?”, “What?”, “Please can you repeat that?” or do you grunt non-committedly and hope your vocalisation is interpreted as the appropriate response?
Maybe you contort your face into a half smile, the kind of facial expression that could be interpreted as a smile but can equally be seen as a grimace of pity or sincerity. Maybe you half close your eyes to disguise your misunderstanding.
Does this happen when you communicate with non-native English speakers or those with particularly strong accents?
How about the written word? Does yous follow coherently the aspects of the authors graphical scribing or do your eyes skip over the page like a troupe of River Dancers?
Sometimes I’m like that. Sometimes it happens like this:
“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn mrmmrph”
“mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph”
At this point I do the half-smile nod-shake. Often this results in a confused look that I’m quick to detect so I quickly turn the situation round with
“Sorry no, can you say it again a bit slower”
This usually results in an exasperated sigh and either a slower version of “mrmparhrn neramaeat pot noodle grmbn nermrmmrph” or a slightly clear translation.
“My partner. Never eats hot poodle gravel nermrmmrph”
“Oh I see” I’ll say, part guessing what they’re saying or maybe just that the person talking to me is off their rocker. I’ll bluff and hope it goes away. They then say something like
“What do you think of that?”
At this point I’ll panic slightly, unsure of the correct convention to answer by. If I say something like “I totally agree” I might be agreeing to something abhorrent. If I say something like “I don’t agree” I might be coming out as some sort of heartless bastard. Usually I’ll go for the safe “I’m not sure” which makes me out as a non-committal coward but it’s often better that way. Of course there are times when I just admit that I didn’t understand in the first place.
“I’m sorry can you repeat what you said”
“My partner. Never eats hot poodle crumble mixers”
She doesn’t know what she’s missing out on.