The Little Things That Restore Your Faith in Humanity – 1

by Miriam Ronzoni on October 13, 2022

There is something really lovely about the way “bless them/her/him” is sometimes used in the UK (or most of the time even? Also is it a pan-UK thing or predominantly Northern? And what’s the role that social class plays in this type of use?). I am not talking of when people use the phrase to praise or express delight for someone in an unqualified manner, but of when they use it, on the contrary, after having said something ever so slightly nasty about someone – basically, after having gossiped about them. The “bless them” declares the gossip bit concluded, by admitting “well, who knows why they did that, why they are like that, and what they are going through; I could have been them in similar circumstances; actually, I probably am them more often than I think.” Or that’s what I hear in it at least. It is so lovely because it acknowledges imperfection at both ends, and it’s one of the little things that restores a bit your faith in humanity. And since at the moment there aren’t many big things that do that, I think I am going to try and start off series on the little things. This is the first one of them.

PS The comments (thanks) teach me that there are similar expressions in American English – some involving the word “bless,” some not. Maybe that’s a universal feature of the English language, then (or at least it’s not only UK-specific). I am, however, pretty sure that it doesn’t exist in Italian, and that I have never heard of a phrase with quite exactly the same connotation in any other language I understand. That’s why I used to associate it, until now, to a very British way of showing compassion for fellow-humans.