two nations divided by a common language
A couple of days ago in travel broadens the mind I listed some strange things about the average American’s of idea leaving America and visiting England. Mostly it doesn’t happen, most Americans never leave the Americas, mostly American’s think Mexico is ‘foreign’ enough. Just to be fair, here are some complementary and contradictory facts about the unbalanced social interactions between the uneducated American and the ignorant Englishman.
For a start there are some things that Americans just do not understand about the English;
- Apologising needlessly. The English will say ‘sorry’ even if they’re not in the wrong and it’s an American who’s trodden on their foot. This is confusing to Americans, but don’t worry it just means that Englishmen can be unbearably polite. Nobody is going to sue anyone. In contrast, underneath their superficial politeness most Americans would just as soon shoot you.
- English Accents. When I was a kid I could tell to within a few miles where someone came from by the way they spoke. Even towns as close together as Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne, (10 miles), still have totally different accents. Honestly, to English ears there are only three American accents, so don’t expect an Englishman to know you’re from Nebraska, or Canada. Anyhow, most Americans think the language is called ‘American’.
- Strange and strong-tasting ‘Foods’ are to be found in England, and not eaten elsewhere. I cite Marmite, Brown Sauce, and Bovril. On the other hand, in the USA I’ve eaten stuff that would make a goat sick; I cite grits, and American bacon which you have to grill until it snaps to make it edible. English people do not willingly eat real Mexican / Latin American food, which looks like dog puke. Most English people think most American food is only fit for the trash. An Englishman shouldn’t try to explain black pudding to an American.
- Pubs. The traditional English pub is nothing like an American Bar. A real English pub is more like the landlord’s front room, and some things are just not allowed ~ for example sitting at the bar, talking to people you don’t know, and running a tab. Not a chance. Some acceptable behaviour in American Bars would have you thrown out of an English pub ~ and maybe arrested for sexual harassment.
- English Reserve. The English will not strike up a conversation, or even speak with, someone they haven’t been introduced to. The English will not speak to people they don’t know in lifts, (elevators), on public transport, in the street, in bars and restaurants, or during any other chance encounter. In fact the English do not speak at all in elevators and on public transport at all. The English never, ever hug, and a handshake is to be used only sparingly and with care. Americans don’t seem to care who they talk to.
- English Understatement. The English are in no way effusive. The way the average American ‘goes overboard‘ all the time is childishly offensive to the average Englishman. In contrast, if an Englishman says ‘nice’ that’s high praise indeed. English people will poke fun at themselves, Americans don’t.
- Sports. By and large the English do not play, and have no interest whatsoever in; baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and what the Americans call football. The English play cricket, football, (soccer), and Rugby. In England your social class can be determined by which sport you like; only chavs like soccer. Wearing your team colours is beneath contempt among polite Englishmen.
- Religion. Unlike in the United States of America, there is an official state religion in England ~ The Church of England. English people do not go to church, and never, ever talk about religion.
- The Royal Family. An Englishman will be contemptuous of and roundly criticise every member of the Royal Family, with the exception of the Queen. Normally a well-mannered Englishman will discuss the Monarch only with the utmost loyalty and courtesy.
If you are American want to impress an Englishman, then just don’t be overtly American, unless you are actually in America. For an Englishman, the one and only impressive thing about America is that it’s big.
On the other hand, if you are a real Englishman you will not want or need to try to impress anyone.
Most American women are cute, smart, well-groomed, intelligent, and well-educated. Until they get into a bar, when they sometimes transform into loud skanks who like karaoke. Most American men are jerks. Most English women try too hard, and a real English Gentleman doesn’t feel he needs to try at all.
Despite the fact that the English and Americans almost share a common language and a common culture, we are as different as chalk and cheese. If you are in an across the pond relationship, then expect constant misunderstandings, friction, and disagreement. For example, it will surprise most English people that Americans actually care about politics. In contrast most English people don’t give a damn about Trump, Clinton, global warming, pipelines, transgender identities…
Personally, I’d have to say that nothing has really changed since 1776.