Peter Calveley is a Kiwi fight-sequence choreographer and actor. But he has an interesting hobby: "United States patents".
In 2005 Calveley challenged the mighty [tag]Amazon[/tag] over their patents for the famous [tag]one-click[/tag] technology â€” and won. The US Patents and Trademarks Office rejected all but five of the company's 26 patent claims after a 17-month investigation.
What interests me is the language used by Calveley in the interview.
"I just thought it was very, very cheeky. [...] I don't have anything against them really. But if I see someone doing something stupid like that they need a slapping round. [...] Neither I nor the contributors were like the opposition that have their own space programme, so it was a bit harder for us than it was for them."
"A bit harder"?
Let's hope Flight of the Conchords has sensitised some people in the U.S. to the [tag]Kiwi vernacular[/tag] and our habit of understatement. In one sense, Calveley says much, much less than he has a right to say. Heaven forbid that other Kiwis might think he was skiting.
But such excessive modesty can be taken literally by those from a different culture. We risk being underestimated when we think we are just being polite. Tough call, isn't it?