Undiscovered Language Aspects


Before we begin take a look at these wonderful reviewers and replies:

And now that I got your attention:

The other day I had to write a response to a not-so-flattering review. It became clear to me that I have two sides when it comes to telling people off in writing: sassy or sappy. This task got me thinking about a specific area of English language that always fascinated me: an ability to professionally tell someone they are being a jerk. I call it  ‘SuitAss’ language.

Hear me out: I deal with happy and not-so-happy people on a daily bases. I love it and hate it at the same time and have conflicting thoughts about it. All that grownup stuff. When I have to talk to someone face-to-face at least I have body language on my side. Writing is a bit different. This specific niche of English is so fragile and so precious to me since I can’t really grasp it. Is this ability something I had to be born into? Like liking sweet potatoes?

It seems like every language has one thing or another that is a bit difficult for foreigners. In Russian, you can have a full on conversation with someone that consists only of cuss words. If and when I see a foreigner having a convo that includes only profanities in Russian - I will be so so impressed. I don’t even think I can do it and I was born to speak the language. I keep thinking about what to do if I need to tell someone off in Russian. What aspect of the language do I use? Which phrases? I realized something a bit sad but completely true to the environment I grew up in: I can turn on my rudeness like no one’s business. Sometimes you have to fight if you want your spot under this burning sun (Global Warming y’all. Look it up).

But let us go back to ‘SuitAss’ language. I am at awe in front of people who can bring their SuitAss skills like a hammer. A quality (or a skill?) that lets you courteously tell the other person he is being a whining baby looks like a superpower to me. Honestly, telling a person to bug off while making him feel on top of the world has to be a superpower. It just has to be! Otherwise I don’t believe in miracles any more.  

I was trying to trace the moment American adults grasp this precious knowledge and I think I might have the answer. I believe Americans face rejection way more than a standard Ukrainian does. That being because an American is actually trying to apply to things no matter the consequence. The wisdom of the SuitAss language gets taken from the numerous rejection letters, unsatisfying phone calls, someone saying ‘no’ directly to your face. An average Ukrainian will not apply for something without being at least a little bit sure he is going to get it. That is a sad truth but it is what it is. Ukrainians like to be sure in their future, I guess.

While making attempts at SuitAss I end up either turning my Ukrainian on (let’s face it: that response will be way too harsh to read) or I get overly apologetic (which is not how I feel but what I have to accept since I am still a SuitAss trainee). Both of these options are not satisfactory to me as a part of American society and as someone who takes pride in studying languages. How do you tell people off? How do you cushion rejection? And can you help a Ukrainian out?

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