I know that the word “football” means something different to Americans than it does to Europeans. It might be that most Americans know that. But the rest of the world thinks of Americans as not knowing it, and it led to something funny when I was in Switzerland. Living right in the middle of Europe, in any conversation about football, both my interlocuter and I had to call it soccer, even though neither of us wanted to call it that. I knew perfectly well that football meant round checker ball, but if I called that ball game football, others always assumed that I was being American and referring to oblong brown ball. They expected me to call round checker ball soccer, and that made it the most convenient word, which meant that I always had to go with it. It was just easier that way.
Since I study the role of what-you-think-I-think-you-think in peoples’ social behavior, I keep thinking of that as deep and fascinating, but every time I try to pin it down analytically as something novel, it just goes limp and becomes this really mundane, obvious, easy to explain inefficiency.