Monday, October 17, 2011

Backhanded compliments

A backhanded compliment, also known as a left handed compliment is an insult that is disguised as a compliment. It takes a fairly good amount of wit, sarcasm and disdain to give a really good one.

It is what might at first sound like a compliment but could or should really be taken as an insult when considered in its entirety. Sometimes a backhanded compliment may be completely inadvertent, especially when given to you by an innocent 8 year old girl.

-Mak Long, at first I wanted to grow up to be a teacher like you. You know everything. But then now I think I want to be a doctor. And help Tok Ayah who is not well. And get lots of money.
-Oh okay that's good.
-But for a teacher, you sure can buy things for the family. (backhanded compliment #1)
-Well I try my best Aina. We must always remember our family and help them whenever we can.
-Yeah I know. That's why I want to become a doctor. But you need to be clever and hard-working to be a doctor.

Then she looked at me for a while.

-But you know what Mak Long? Don't worry. You sure are smart for a teacher. (backhanded compliment of the year)

That was by far the best one I've received so far this year. Short, sweet and aims directly at your jugular veins. :-)