Today is the first in a two-part series on using vague language. “Vague” means not clearly defined. For example, if you ask someone what time it is and they say “About 7 or so,” they are being vague. There are lots of reasons to be vague. Sometimes you need to be vague because you don’t know some information or because the information is not important. And sometimes vague language is just more polite.
In these two episodes, we’ll be looking at how to speak in a vague way, but different situations require different styles. You’ll have to use your knowledge of the culture, the people and the situation that you are dealing with to decide which style is most appropriate. Our goal is to give you the communication tools you need to succeed in different environments. In future episodes, we’ll also be looking at other styles of speaking.
Listening Quiz: (Click a question to see the answer)
1) What do you think Jen means by â€œulterior motiveâ€?
â€œUlteriorâ€ literally means outside and â€œmotiveâ€ is a reason, so Jen has kind of an outside or extra reason for inviting Mike to the party. Usually an â€œulterior motiveâ€ is a selfish reason that you try to keep hidden from someone. By joking directly about her ulterior motive, Jen probably intends to avoid Mike feeling that her computer problem is the only reason she wants to invite him.
2) Is Mike a computer expert?
Mike says he â€œknows a thing or two about computers,â€ which doesnâ€™t make it sound like he is a expert. But as we learned in this show, this is a kind of polite formula Mike is using because he is in a situation where it is socially appropriate to be modest, that is, not to brag about his ability.