Check these sentences -

I cracked that tough exam and got an admission at the institute. You are my best buddy, I expect the same from you (cracking the exam).

Clearly, one friend wants other to crack the exam because he expects the same.


You call it a pun or the beauty of the grammar. But this is what popped up in my mind hearing some conversation between two friends.

Hey dude, if I respect you, I expect the same (from you).
Oh little head, there's no doubt. I respect myself!

The gag is clear but it leaves a good point. How do we ask for the same thing from the other person without having ambiguity.

  • "Crack the exam?" "Oh little head, there's no doubt. I respect myself!" The gag isn't even slightly clear. "Little head" means something to me, but I suspect it might be different for you, 'cause I'm pretty clueless here. Mar 29, 2014 at 14:22
  • 1
    "I expect you to respect me." or "I expect you to reciprocate." Mar 29, 2014 at 14:31
  • 1
    Crack the exam is an interesting expression. Does it mean just getting a passing grade (we would say pass the exam in the US) or achieving an outstanding grade (we would say ace the exam)? Mar 29, 2014 at 16:21
  • @StoneyB crack the exam is pass the exam but the exam is not general. There's too much competition and if you crack it, you have certainly achieved something and you are not among general students.
    – Maulik V
    Mar 29, 2014 at 16:31
  • @Jolenealaska consider little head as a person with a small brain (slang). Crack the exam is passing the exam which is not easy to pass.
    – Maulik V
    Mar 29, 2014 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


This sort of theoretical ambiguity is pretty much built into the language, since first and second person pronouns (‘deictic’ pronouns) shift their reference between speakers. It can be avoided by explicitly disambiguating the references:

I expect you to respect me.
I expect you to reiprocate.

But it is sheer captiousness to pretend to misunderstand what you say, a violation of Grice’s cooperative principle which is generally held to govern ordinary discourse. Such violations are acceptable for the sake of a joke; but if your friend seeks to extend it to really important matters like who is paying for the drinks, you may legitimately feel aggrieved.


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