I recently entertained some visitors from Colorado who, after a brief encounter with a local food service establishment, mentioned that they found New Englanders to be sarcastic. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said disingenuously.
New Englanders are a strange mix of propriety, humorous subtext, and open aggression, especially in the face of anything they find pretentious or dishonest. Growing up in New England, I came to discover that you can get along pretty well by resorting to your Emily Post or Miss Manners, but that when people really began to like you, they will mock and tease you mercilessly. If a person is always polite to you, it is never a good sign.
Now that The Lace Reader has been sold in many countries around the world, I am beginning to interact with the various translators and I’m finding that 95% of their questions deal with sarcasm, self-effacing humor, and mocking understatements. Making translatable sense out of tongue-in-cheek remarks is challenging enough but even more so when a culture is devoid of multi-generational taunting. Do cultures like that really exist? If so, what do they do at family gatherings?