Street language


It is an excellent thing that three quarters of British people apologise when someone bumps into them Louis Armstrong saw “friends shaking hands, saying how do you do. They’re really saying, I love you.” Be that as it may, British people who say sorry when someone else bumps into them are really saying: I make a habit of walking in the street without bumping into people, and I suggest you do likewise. So it is an excellent thing that, as we report today, three quarters of British people apologise even if they are bumpees rather than the bumpers. The British are quite accomplished at missing each other in the street. Among foreigners, Icelanders have earned a name, justified or not, for collision. Italians and Spaniards simply stand in the way until physically pushed, even then taking no more notice than the more relaxed varieties of domestic livestock. Sorry is a word of power – and there is a very easy way of saying it.