In his book Hamlets Blackberry, William Powers tells the story of a friend from a non-English-speaking background who had migrated to the United States. Whenever he asked her how she was, she would inevitably reply “busy, very busy”. Powers thought this was strange, particularly given his friend Maria would often applied a very upbeat time. He soon learned why. Maria was simply copying what Americans sent to each other when asked how they were doing. She thought it was the way you replied politely to enquiries about how you are doing.

%d bloggers like this: