How would you interpret, “No thank you”?

I remember playing a game (it was probably an activity to teach us something) in a drama lesson when I was aged about 14, the game consisted of saying, “No thank you” in as many different ways as possible. It was easy to make it sound polite (No, thank you), to sound sarcastic (No thank you), to make it sound as if you were thanking the other person (No, thank you) but somehow when written down without using speech marks and appropriate vocabulary, it is much more difficult.

This seems to be the problems with emails and even more so with texts and tweets. I can make it shouty, “NO THANK YOU”, I can put in commas but then “No, thank you ” and “No, thank you” as in the examples above look exactly the same. When I write them I can hear in my head how I mean it but there is no guarantee that the recipient of my message will hear that tone. It is very easy for messages to be misunderstood

I emailed my tutor yesterday with my suggestion for my action research project. I got an email back that started “You do make me chuckle….” over a sentence I had put that I hadn’t considered to be funny at all, but I could see, once I read his reply, why he did. We sometimes get the same with written feedback, we write, in school approved handwriting, “You seemed to have grasped the idea of adding two numbers containing 2 decimal places, Tommy, can you now try adding 27.3 + 165.87?” Writing this we should expect that Tommy will just write, “No”. I appreciate that Tommy probably knew that it was written with the intended verbal inflection to sound encouraging and for him to want to try this extra calculation but if in a stroppy mood, NO, answered the question asked.

The world seems to be moving more towards written communication using as few words as possible. I can see that if we are not really careful this paring back on language could lead to lots of confusion both deliberate and unintentional. Will this stop me texting, tweeting and emailing? No thank you!

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How would you interpret, “No thank you”?

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