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Thread: Ask me about the United Kingdom

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Default Ask me about the United Kingdom

    In the spirit of other threads with questions about countries, I hereby offer to answer questions about England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    I will add I know plenty about England and Wales, some about Scotland and very little about Northern Ireland, but I will try to answer evrything.

    OTOH, if you want to know why Jaffa Cakes are the greatest thing ever created or have any other questions about a little island that helped shape the world, feel free to ask.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    By 'shape the world', do you mean 'invaded a whole heap of places and stole lots of land'?

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    I heard that Scotland gained independence recently. Is their new-found independence merely ornamental, or are they really stepping out of London's shadow?

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    How much and in what ways do you think the London terrorist attacks have affected the UK? Has day-to-day life changed much due to security checks etc? How has it affected the British psyche?

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    Have you been to Stonehenge? Was it built by aliens?

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    Why does Wales have a seperate Prince/ss? Also, why isn't Wales represented on the Union Jack?

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    By 'shape the world', do you mean 'invaded a whole heap of places and stole lots of land'?
    Well, we did have 1/3 of the globe ruled from London at one point as the British Empire. Invading lands and taking control was very popular in Europe and having an excellent navy, Britain was well placed to take advantage.

    We also have the oldest of what might be termed the modern university. The Industrial Revolution started here and London has been a major settlement for over 2000 years.

    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    I heard that Scotland gained independence recently. Is their new-found independence merely ornamental, or are they really stepping out of London's shadow?
    Scotland is not an independent country, although it has gained an amount of self-governence with its own parliament and ability to set local taxes. On national matters it is still ruled from London.

    However, despite what they think of the Engllish, it is likely that any poll on becoming an independant country would be rejected by the Scottish. The biggest sticking point is the revenue from North Sea Oil.

    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    How much and in what ways do you think the London terrorist attacks have affected the UK? Has day-to-day life changed much due to security checks etc? How has it affected the British psyche?
    I believe the oft used phrase about 7/7 was "We've been bombed by a better quality of bastard". I won't deny it was shocking, but since the Blitz in WWII and after the numerous IRA attacks on the capital, we got on with life. Day-to-Day life didn't really change that much although.

    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    Have you been to Stonehenge? Was it built by aliens?
    Yes, I have been to Stonehenge. No it was not built by aliens.

    It's quite pretty and self contained. For a better stone circle, Avebury is really impressive.

    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    Why does Wales have a seperate Prince/ss? Also, why isn't Wales represented on the Union Jack?
    The original Prince of Wales was named as such to show the Welsh they had been conquered and were going to be ruled by the English royal line (yup, we started with our neighbours), the original welsh royal family having been "dealt with". There is an Ensign flag showing the Welsh Dragon as well, but it is rarely used. It's not represented as it was conquered territory.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    Have you ever tormented a Beefeater?

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post
    There is an Ensign flag showing the Welsh Dragon as well, but it is rarely used. It's not represented as it was conquered territory.
    Was Scotland not conquered territory?

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    my god, he's full of stars... OneCentStamp's avatar
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    When are you people going to get around to cranking out some more Kate Winslets and Jude Laws?
    "You laugh at me because I'm different; I laugh at you because I'm on nitrous."

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    What would you recommend to a tourist of Wales from America?
    (Keeping in mind a love of ruins, castles, museums and zoos)

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    Have you ever tormented a Beefeater?
    One does not torment ex-Forces brick outhouses armed with a very big pike. Male or Female. Apparently, it does happen now and again. It is always a mistake.

    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    Was Scotland not conquered territory?
    Nope, England and Scotland joined under the Act of Union, when King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England uniting the 2 countries.

    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp View post
    When are you people going to get around to cranking out some more Kate Winslets and Jude Laws?
    You mean Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom

    Besides Colin Firth is likely to get best actor this year and all the women keep mentioning this swimming scene as Mr Darcy.

    Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
    What would you recommend to a tourist of Wales from America?
    (Keeping in mind a love of ruins, castles, museums and zoos)
    Castles: Wales has some of the finest - Caernarvon and Harlech in North Wales are superb. Cardiff in the south.
    Zoos: Chester Zoo is pretty good (although its just across the border in England)
    Ruins - see Castles
    Nerd Time - Portmeiron was the setting for "The Prisoner"
    St Davids - smallest city in the UK and has a massive beach called Whitesands
    Roman Fan: Chester and Carleon had two major forts there, Chester also has a great set of City Walls to walk around.
    Areas of Beauty - Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons are two large national parks and look amazing. Especially in Autumn

    Just for starters.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Oliphaunt
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    How is it that fish n' chips made on your island are 20,000 times better than fish n' chips I've had anywhere else? Is it fairy dust?

    Are you bored of Kate Middleton yet?

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    my god, he's full of stars... OneCentStamp's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post
    You mean Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom
    No, you can keep Keira and Orlando. We're quite well stocked on willowy pretty people with high cheekbones, TYVM. MOAR KATE PLZ THX.
    "You laugh at me because I'm different; I laugh at you because I'm on nitrous."

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    Hey I am not a huge fan of Keira's looks overall but she is a very good actress, actually better then Kate I think. Bloom of course is barely an actor, almost the Brit's version of Tom Cruise without the CrazyTM


    Does Wales board any pre-Edward ruins?

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    Quote Originally posted by Orual View post
    How is it that fish n' chips made on your island are 20,000 times better than fish n' chips I've had anywhere else? Is it fairy dust?

    Are you bored of Kate Middleton yet?
    Fish and Chips, we have the freshest fish, the finest potatoes, the hottest oil and several decades of artery hardening practice.

    Not bored of Kate Middleton - yet. Ask me again next April, the answer might be slightly different.

    Quote Originally posted by OneCentStamp View post
    No, you can keep Keira and Orlando. We're quite well stocked on willowy pretty people with high cheekbones, TYVM. MOAR KATE PLZ THX.
    Yes, we do have replacements, no you can't have a look, instead you can have Helena Bonham-Carter.

    Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
    Hey I am not a huge fan of Keira's looks overall but she is a very good actress, actually better then Kate I think. Bloom of course is barely an actor, almost the Brit's version of Tom Cruise without the CrazyTM


    Does Wales board any pre-Edward ruins?
    Castles, er, no. Edward flattened them all

    There are plenty of Roman ruins in Wales, but I don't think any of the druid stuff survived in Anglesey. The Romans flattened it all.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post
    Yes, we do have replacements, no you can't have a look, instead you can have Helena Bonham-Carter.

    Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
    Does Wales board any pre-Edward ruins?
    Castles, er, no. Edward flattened them all

    There are plenty of Roman ruins in Wales, but I don't think any of the druid stuff survived in Anglesey. The Romans flattened it all.
    Look we have all had enough Helena Bonham-Carter, she is still occasionally good, but no one wants any more of her.

    The lack of Druidic and Ancient Welsh ruins is sad. Scotland and Ireland thankfully still have many. I am still trying to decide when I finally get over there again if I am doing Ireland, Ireland and Wales, Wales and Southern England or England or Scotland.

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Orual View post
    How is it that fish n' chips made on your island are 20,000 times better than fish n' chips I've had anywhere else?
    They're pretty good in Ireland too.

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    Oliphaunt
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    Quote Originally posted by What Exit? View post
    The lack of Druidic and Ancient Welsh ruins is sad. Scotland and Ireland thankfully still have many. I am still trying to decide when I finally get over there again if I am doing Ireland, Ireland and Wales, Wales and Southern England or England or Scotland.
    Scotland is awesome. Northern England (Durham and York) is also very, very cool.

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    like Gandalf in a way Nrblex's avatar
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    How do people who live in England generally think about themselves? As citizens of the UK or as "Englishmen" or "Brits"? What's the primary personal identity?

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Thanks for starting the thread! My family was from Staffordshire back in the early 1800s before coming to the U.S., and I've always been a rabid Anglophile. I've visited the UK three times: a two-week high school trip (London and the usual tourist spots within an hour's drive of the city), a four-month college semester abroad (living in Hammersmith, going to classes near Oxford Circus, and traveling to Devon, Cornwall and Kent), and another two-week visit a few years later (London and Oxford, mostly). Loved it and would like to go back someday.

    And I think Keira's lovely. In fact, if I weren't happily married, I'd probably be stalking her.

    So....

    Do you favor retention of the monarchy?
    What are your political leanings?
    Should even greater power now be given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
    Should Northern Ireland even remain part of the UK?
    What are your favorite British TV shows?
    Who are your favorite British actors or actresses?
    Do you resent "51st state" jokes?
    How do you think Cameron, Clegg & Co. are doing?
    What did you think of Tony Blair?
    Do you favor PR or any other electoral reform?
    What current national policies do you strongly support?
    Which do you strongly oppose?
    Do you display the Union Flag at your home?
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 28 Jan 2011 at 11:01 PM.

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    Elephant Myglaren's avatar
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    Technically I am British but don't feel any particular affiliation to the country. It is just an accident of birth.
    I am of the opinion that patriotism is another facet of racism.
    Borders should be eradicated.
    In contradiction to this, diverse cultures under the guise of nations is something that should never be repressed but encouraged.

    Most of the questions posed above^ by EH fall into the 'don't care' category. I don't have a Union Jack and reckon all these types that wave them and the George cross around are a load of idiots.

    I'll just get me coat and curmudgeon away then...

    even my username is Swedish and the avatar French
    Last edited by Myglaren; 29 Jan 2011 at 05:49 AM. Reason: added nonsense
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    What kind of candy bar is available in the US that is not available in Wales, that a guy from Wales might be rather tickled to receive in the mail? (Oh come on, it's fun to get random stuff in the mail from a buddy, isn't it?)

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Nrblex View post
    How do people who live in England generally think about themselves? As citizens of the UK or as "Englishmen" or "Brits"? What's the primary personal identity?
    It's a wierd situation. Most people will think of themselves as either English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish in day to day terms, but when it comes to something representing the union, they are British.

    However, it has benefits. Andy Murray was playing in the final of the Australian Open Tennis. If he had won, he would have been a British Hero, allowing all 4 countries to enjoy the win. As he didn't, he's just a Scottish loser
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Quote Originally posted by Elendil's Heir View post
    Do you favor retention of the monarchy?
    What are your political leanings?
    Should even greater power now be given to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
    Should Northern Ireland even remain part of the UK?
    What are your favorite British TV shows?
    Who are your favorite British actors or actresses?
    Do you resent "51st state" jokes?
    How do you think Cameron, Clegg & Co. are doing?
    What did you think of Tony Blair?
    Do you favor PR or any other electoral reform?
    What current national policies do you strongly support?
    Which do you strongly oppose?
    Do you display the Union Flag at your home?
    Ok, most of these question are actually looking for opinions rather than questions about the UK, but here goes.

    The Monarchy: Most people want to keep the monarchy in more or less its current state. These is a republican movement, but considering who the alternatives would be, the monarchy does an excellent job. People say we should not pay for them, but it does not consider just how much money the Crown generates and how much would have to be given back to the Family should they be replaced.

    My political leanings: Centre-Right, which would probably make me a Democrat in America.

    Local government: I see no reason why some local powers could not be devolved to local government, but the same also needs to happen in England.

    Northern Ireland: At this point in time, I think Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK. I can't see it joining to make one United Ireland and I don't know if it would prefer to be it's own country rather than join.

    Favourite British TV Shows/Actors - too many to mention

    51st State Jokes: you mean other than being America's largest aircraft carrier.

    Cameron, Clegg and the Coalition: Early Days yet, but considering the less they were left behind, they don't have a lot of options and all of them are unpalatable. They have made some mistakes but I think they are heading in the right direction.

    Tony Blair: The only reason he governed the country was to feather his own nest. He wanted to make his mark on history and would do anything necessary do it. BTW: I'm sorry to say but you just elected your own Blair in Obama. Great orator, uplifting leader, one or two big policies to make his mark, will be gone before the shit really hits the fan. Current joke doing the rounds- Why do dictators always hold on to power for too long unless it is to pass it to their pal Gordon.

    Electoral: I like FPTP as an electoral system depsite its fault. PR may be more representative, but then you have to deal with every focus group who gains a selection of votes. Amusing PR note: The BNP got more votes then the Greens in the last election. However under FPTP, the Greens have 1 MP and the BNP none. However, I do agree with trying to rationalise the constituency boundaries to even the number of people in each of them to make it fairer.

    National Policy support/oppose: That's a bit vague, I'd suggest a Crucible thread for something specific.

    and no, I don't fly a Union Jack at home.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Quote Originally posted by Myglaren View post
    Technically I am British but don't feel any particular affiliation to the country. It is just an accident of birth.
    I am of the opinion that patriotism is another facet of racism.
    Borders should be eradicated.
    In contradiction to this, diverse cultures under the guise of nations is something that should never be repressed but encouraged.

    Most of the questions posed above^ by EH fall into the 'don't care' category. I don't have a Union Jack and reckon all these types that wave them and the George cross around are a load of idiots.

    I'll just get me coat and curmudgeon away then...

    even my username is Swedish and the avatar French
    Given the number of races in Britain who consider themselves British, I don't think patriotism is racist. It is supposed to be a celebration of what makes your country unique and being proud of it.

    A big problem England has is the hijack of the George Cross by Nationalists and Right Wing. It needs reclaiming as a celebration of what it means to be English.

    Same goes for what it means to be British as well.

    Quote Originally posted by 5er View post
    What kind of candy bar is available in the US that is not available in Wales, that a guy from Wales might be rather tickled to receive in the mail? (Oh come on, it's fun to get random stuff in the mail from a buddy, isn't it?)
    Best suggestion would be to send Hersheys Kisses or Reese's, which are not available over here. One point of warning, American chocolate is made with corn syrup and British chocolate is made with sugar and is much sweeter.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    Speaking of Hershey's, have you ever had it and did you find it disgusting?
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zuul View post
    Speaking of Hershey's, have you ever had it and did you find it disgusting?
    I have and they are truly disgusting by comparison to British chocolate.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Thanks for all your answers! Someday I hope to get back to your scepter'd isle....

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    Who (IYO) was Britain's greatest leader?

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    Quote Originally posted by Nrblex View post
    How do people who live in England generally think about themselves? As citizens of the UK or as "Englishmen" or "Brits"? What's the primary personal identity?
    And for that matter, what's the difference between "The United Kingdom" and "Britain?" They seem to be used interchangeably, but I suspect they refer to different things.
    Last edited by Sarahfeena; 09 Feb 2011 at 11:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally posted by Bergen View post
    Who (IYO) was Britain's greatest leader?
    Hmm, so may good ones to choose from.

    Leader as in a leader of men, then probably the Duke of Wellington.
    Leader as in leading the country, Elizabeth I or Winston Churchill

    Given you probably mean leader of the country, I'll go with Lizzie I.

    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    And for that matter, what's the difference between "The United Kingdom" and "Britain?" They seem to be used interchangeably, but I suspect they refer to different things.
    Ok, the United Kingdom is the four combined countries of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

    Britain is the island on which three of the countries sit and does not include Northern Ireland.

    The correct title of the sovereign state is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, normally referred to as the UK.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post

    Ok, the United Kingdom is the four combined countries of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

    Britain is the island on which three of the countries sit and does not include Northern Ireland.

    The correct title of the sovereign state is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, normally referred to as the UK.
    Ah, got it. But there must be more to bring "British" than just living on the island of Britain...there's national identity wrapped up in it, too?

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    Ah, got it. But there must be more to bring "British" than just living on the island of Britain...there's national identity wrapped up in it, too?
    How do you mean? Being British also means being Scottish, Welsh or English as well, but not Irish.

    Besides Britishness has been exported around the globe and has acquired certain meanings beyond that of the locals.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    I think to most Americans, we tend to think British = English and not Scottish or Welsh.

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    There's an on-going thread on SDMB about all this. Most residents of Northern Ireland are British citizens and some would refer to themselves as British but a significant minority identify as Irish. One thing that confuses the terminology is that the UK is often referred to as Great Britain or just Britain, even when Northern Ireland is to be included. Barack Obama referred to how great an ally Great Britain was and I joked that Northern Ireland wasn't pulling its weight.

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    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Just don't describe the Scottish or Welsh as English.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    "Brits Out!!" works well for any of 'em.

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    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    I think there are two issues for Americans, we can easily tell the Scottish from the English but it is usually not as easy to tell the Welsh from the English. I've heard plenty of self-described Welshmen that sounded English to my ear and I don't think I am alone. I have also heard a few that did not sound English. But the Scottish sound very distinct, from a light brogue to the very heavy brogue that some have.

    Considering the variation in English accents over a fairly small land area, I think this adds to the confusion over the mild Welsh accent.
    Is there generally considered a strong and weak Welsh accent? Do those near the border tend to have only a light accent?

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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post
    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    Ah, got it. But there must be more to bring "British" than just living on the island of Britain...there's national identity wrapped up in it, too?
    How do you mean? Being British also means being Scottish, Welsh or English as well, but not Irish.

    Besides Britishness has been exported around the globe and has acquired certain meanings beyond that of the locals.
    I'm not sure what I mean! For one thing, I guess, here in the US, someone from Scotland will usually describe themselves as "Scottish," whereas someone from England will tend to say "British." But what I was really after was what it means in a political sense or in a cultural sense. What does it mean to be British, other than just living on the same island?

    ETA: I'm starting to think this is a stupid question, since I can't seem to figure out how to articulate it.
    Last edited by Sarahfeena; 11 Feb 2011 at 12:31 PM.

  41. #41
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    What does being an American mean? Really, what binds all those diverse 200-some million people other than the share a big chunk of the same continent (and a few islands)?

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    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    That's a good question, AG. I think ultimately it's the Constitution, but part of that is the way the government was formed and the Constitution was written. We really had nothing before it, so it was formed just from an idea of what a country and a government should be, and so it was. We don't really have a whole lot of anything binding us together outside of that concept (which I think is why "freedom/liberty" is SO resonant with Americans, even though other countries have those concepts enshrined in their own constitutions and cultures).

    We also don't have a situation where we will say, "ok, so all 50 states together are political entity known as the United States, but 43 of the states are known as "America," which is different. So I'm trying to figure out where the difference lies.

  43. #43
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Well think of it like this, Puerto Rico is American yet it is also Puerto Rican. Each constitutent part of the UK is British, but it's also Scottish/Welsh/Northern Irish/English. Perhaps years ago someone should have coined a term like Kingdomian to signify in a less emotive/politicised way what it is to be a citizen of the UK.

  44. #44
    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    It is a difficult thing to define in a cogent politically correct manner, nationhood, or national identity, damn I have to go, I'll post again later! Sorry for hijack CIAS!

  45. #45
    Prehistoric Bitchslapper Sarahfeena's avatar
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    Ha ha, I didn't use the Puerto Rican analogy because I don't know how much they consider themselves part of the US, and I thought it would be tacky to assume that they do. So, political correctness is part of these issues here, too!

    But I think part of the confusion for Americans is that we tend to see ourselves as Americans first and residents of our states second (well, except maybe for Texans! ) But it seems at least to me that it's the other way around in Britain...that the key self-identifier is English, Welsh, or Scottish first and British second. Not sure if that's really true, or just flawed perception on my part.
    Last edited by Sarahfeena; 11 Feb 2011 at 02:07 PM.

  46. #46
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sarahfeena View post
    But I think part of the confusion for Americans is that we tend to see ourselves as Americans first and residents of our states second (well, except maybe for Texans! ) But it seems at least to me that it's the other way around in Britain...that the key self-identifier is English, Welsh, or Scottish first and British second. Not sure if that's really true, or just flawed perception on my part.
    I think the difference is the amount of history the constituent parts of the UK has. They have been fighting each other for the best part of 1500-2000 years or more as recorded countries. That's a lot of history, culture and identification which the USA just does not have.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Happy New Year! Trojan Man's avatar
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    How does your accent compare to other British accents? I mean, for those of us who aren't all that good at identifying different British accents, could you use characters from popular culture, as examples? I really, really want to believe you don't talk like Geoffrey Boycott. REALLY.

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CatInASuit View post
    ...I think the difference is the amount of history the constituent parts of the UK has. They have been fighting each other for the best part of 1500-2000 years or more as recorded countries. That's a lot of history, culture and identification which the USA just does not have.
    I think it was Twain who said that in America, a hundred years is a long time, while in Europe, a hundred miles is a long way.

    I agree that the Constitution is a vital part of what binds Americans together, as well as generalized concepts like freedom, democracy, the rule of law and "the American way," define it as you will. But there are other patriotic symbols which do so, especially the flag, and also the Statue of Liberty, U.S. Capitol, White House, Liberty Bell, Golden Gate Bridge, etc. More broadly, it's cultural shared experiences like movies, TV shows, popular music, baseball, football, and so on.

  49. #49
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by spitz View post
    How does your accent compare to other British accents? I mean, for those of us who aren't all that good at identifying different British accents, could you use characters from popular culture, as examples? I really, really want to believe you don't talk like Geoffrey Boycott. REALLY.
    You will be pleased to know I do not speak like Geoffrey Boycott.

    My accent is quite weird as it has incorporated bits and pieces from all over the country. To the south, I sound like I am from the north, to the north, I sound like I am from the south, to the midlands, they haven't got a clue.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  50. #50
    Elen síla lumenn' omentielvo What Exit?'s avatar
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    Where or what is Coulsdon?

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