Irony and playfulness

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Just reacting to a tweet by Nergiz (about someone else) made me realize that my self-deprecating self-referential language – “grammar guru” and “method blogger” – could be taken at face value. Oops. Needless to say, I am neither a (grammar or any other kind of) guru, nor a method actor. I frankly wouldn’t know what to say to one if we met. Hello, I love you, maybe. I grinned stupidly at Harry Rowohlt, for example, and he frowned back. He’s alright.

It’s well known that Brits use self-deprecation, or making jokes about themselves, but many Americans do, too. When we’re self-conscious, we like to overstate things, make ourselves much bigger than life, so everyone knows it’s just for fun. That takes the edge off of the competition so central to American life and turns it into a game.

Thanks, Nergiz. Maybe that guy is a bighead, but maybe not.

  • self-deprecation, self-deprecating = Selbstironie, selbstironisch
  • self-referential = ich-bezogen
  • self-conscious = befangen, verlegen
  • take sth at face value = etwas für bare Münze nehmen
  • overstate = übertreiben
  • grin/ frown = grinsen/ finster dreinblicken


5 Responses

  1. Indeed. Tricky to explain and so easy to offend when you have a foot on both sides of the pond and you’re trying to talk to both sides at once. I just re-read a lovely comment by Karenne on Carl Dowse’s blog about Brits and modesty:

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