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The U.K. Explained for non-residents
January 31, 2011 1:31 PM   Subscribe

[SLYT] A brief video explaining the parts of the UK. This video explains the difference between Great Britain and The United Kingdom, and its various territories, and which countries form which political and/or geographical groups.
posted by marienbad (60 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a silly, pointless exercise.. I'm an American. It's for you to understand OUR geography, not for us to understand anyone else's!
posted by mreleganza at 1:40 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does what it says on the tin. I wish the fellow narrating it would occasionally breathe or something. He sounds like the guy that reads all the side effects as fast as possible on medicine commercials.
posted by axiom at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very helpful. Now do one for pre-decimal British money. I've never been able to figure that out.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 1:44 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


"When people say they are Irish, they are referring to the Republic of Ireland"

I knew he wouldn't get everything right.
posted by knapah at 1:46 PM on January 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Narrator was a little too rapid in his delivery over a five-minute video, but a nice explanation.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on January 31, 2011


Does anyone know what map software he used?
posted by parmanparman at 1:48 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interested parties should probably check out his reddit post.
posted by fight or flight at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Narrator was a little too rapid in his delivery over a five-minute video,

Kind of the point, I thought. This is a guy who enjoys Zero Punctuation, I am sure.

By the way, those interested in the curious remaining fragments of the Empire (the British Overseas Territories) might enjoy Simon Winchester's book Outposts, in which he visits most or all of these.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2011


This is surprisingly helpful.
posted by odinsdream at 1:58 PM on January 31, 2011


Narrator was a little too rapid in his delivery over a five-minute video

Much preferred over the typical YouTube style of willfully slow and get-to-the-fucking-point OH WAIT let's have a title card... and a FADE IN..... and ROLL CREED SOUNDTRACK
posted by odinsdream at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


As an English guy living in the US, I have ample cause to link people to this. Thoroughly bookmarked. Jolly good show.
posted by TheTorns at 2:03 PM on January 31, 2011


When I was at grad school in Dublin we discussed whether or not they were "British" Isles (most of Ireland itself being emphatically Not British, depending of course on where you are in it), and my (wonderful) professor Terence Brown said he preferred the term "These Islands."

Ever since I left I've referred to them as "Those Islands."
posted by rdc at 2:07 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I knew he wouldn't get everything right.

As the narrator says "Whilst it is easy to remember the parts of the British Empire that broke away violently", the video displays an image of George Washington side by side with one of Gandhi.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 2:14 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Interesting. I still find it confusing in regards to the Isles of Man, Guernsey and Jersey and how they are crown dependencies but not part of the UK when they're right fricking there. But then again, I still find the whole dutchy and leasehold stuf to be pretty confusing as well.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2011


Narrator suggests you not refer to people from Britain as being British because "the people from the four countries don't like each other". While I don't disagree with this observation, it's been my experience that, because of this very fact, you're far safer referring to someone as being British than English, Scottish, Welsh, or Northern Irish. After all, unless you know your accents, you have a three in four chance of being wrong in their country of origin, and that tends to make British people really angry.

You don't ever want to call a Welshman "English" for instance, though he probably wouldn't object to being referred to as British.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:19 PM on January 31, 2011


"And, often forgotten even by those in the United Kingdom, is Northern Ireland shown in orange."

Oh, dear.
posted by Catseye at 2:21 PM on January 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Good video! Here are my quibbles!

"it contains inside of it four co-equal and soveriegn nations"

"Sovereign", really? Any powered devolved to the nations other than England can be immediately revoked by the British Parliament, which also retains a veto over Welsh law. And England doesn't even have its own parliament or any English political body - how can it be "sovereign"?

"When people say they are Irish, they are referring to the Republic of Ireland"

Nooo, nonono. That claim is liable to get you a black eye in certain pubs.

"It's a useful reminder that the United Kingdom is still technically a theocracy, with the reigning monarch acting as both the Head of State and the Supreme Governor of the state religion, Anglicanism"

Only in England is The Church of England the established church, and the Queen is the Supreme Governor. The Queen is an ordinary member of the established Scottish church, the Church of Scotland. There is no established church in Wales or Northern Ireland, nor in any other Commonwealth Realm. The Queen of the United Kingdom rules "by the grace of God" - other realms may or may not use this term.

Also he said "Orkland" instead of "Orkney".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:22 PM on January 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Now do one for pre-decimal British money.

They are out there, albeit a little slower paced.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:24 PM on January 31, 2011


Reading about British Overseas Territories led me to this, which is awesome.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:30 PM on January 31, 2011


no no no. As others have pointed out, it is incorrect. If you are Irish, you can be from The Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland. That is one of the outcomesof the Good Friday agreement.

Secondly, I greatly dislike the term 'The British Isles'. Coming from one of the oppressed islands that broke away from it's colonial slave-masters I prefer the term WEESI (Western-European English Speaking Isles). I frequently introduce myself as a WEESIAN at social gatherings.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:34 PM on January 31, 2011


I knew he wouldn't get everything right.

I'm Scottish and I have no objection to being called British because ...... well, I am. Just don't call me English. And I'm not an Anglican either - you won't find many of those outside of England. (So basically what the East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 said.)

Oh, and many English people think the whole thing is called England too and that the legal tender is called "English money".
posted by Lezzles at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2011


Secondly, I greatly dislike the term 'The British Isles'

There was an attempt recently by a number of historians of pre-1707 British history to popularise the phrase 'the Atlantic Archipelago', which lots of people hate but which I think actually has quite a nice ring to it. Although 'I'm from the AA' does not.
posted by greycap at 2:42 PM on January 31, 2011


What about "The Britirish Isles"?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2011


greycap, I like that phrase! When people look at me with blank faces (not knowing what a WEESIAN is), I shall utter "But surely you know the Atlantic Archipelago!".

Though if I want to be truly cantankerous I'll growl at them as gaeilge.

I jest. I don't actually do this.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


All you need to know is this.

There's London, the places Londoners go to for long weekends, and the bits that Londoners have to drive through on the way. Okay?
posted by tigrefacile at 2:50 PM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here is an interesting list of the queen's mad styles.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2011


I'm trying to work out whether the pronunciation of Anglesey as Anglezee was a simple error or an attempt to say "Anglesey" in a Welsh accent... in which case it might have been wiser to have called it Ynys Môn and have done. Still, not bad going at all.
posted by DNye at 2:55 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another one that would be useful to point people to is the various European agreements: EU, Schengen, EEA, EFTA, Eurozone, Council of Europe, etc.
posted by Nothing at 3:00 PM on January 31, 2011


Oh, and many English people think... the legal tender is called "English money".

Well, given that the only legal tender in England (and Wales, but not Scotland or Northern Ireland) is issued by the Bank of England and says "Bank of England" on it, it's not really surprising that English people think it's "English money".

Of course, Scotland has its own money issued by a seemingly random selection of commercial banks, which nobody south of Carlisle accepts. And so does Northern Ireland, which even fewer English people accept

And there are loads of Anglicans outside England - just not necessarily in Britain.
posted by ComfySofa at 3:37 PM on January 31, 2011


The well known Union Flag is derived from combining the flags and colors of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Wales gets the shaft on this one.

Surely I'm not the only person to come up with this.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:38 PM on January 31, 2011


The Auckland Isles?
posted by fire&wings at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2011


When I was at grad school in Dublin we discussed whether or not they were "British" Isles (most of Ireland itself being emphatically Not British, depending of course on where you are in it), and my (wonderful) professor Terence Brown said he preferred the term "These Islands."

Ever since I left I've referred to them as "Those Islands."


Similar to what greycap said, I tend to jokingly use "North Atlantic Archipelago", normally after going on about 800 years of oppression for a bit.
posted by knapah at 4:00 PM on January 31, 2011


Secondly, I greatly dislike the term 'The British Isles'

Well, go found your country someplace else. It's not our fault.
posted by dhartung at 4:02 PM on January 31, 2011


And I'm not an Anglican either - you won't find many of those outside of England.

We've got about 3.7 million of them over here. You're welcome to have most of them back, if you want.
posted by Jimbob at 4:05 PM on January 31, 2011


Is it possible there's been 34 comments and no one has linked The Great British Venn Diagram? Only covers the major places, but helps straighten out Ireland. (Including the continuing pesky thing of showing Northern Ireland in orange.)
posted by Nelson at 4:09 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still find it confusing in regards to the Isles of Man, Guernsey and Jersey and how they are crown dependencies but not part of the UK when they're right fricking there.

Something that wasn't immediately clear from the video is that Jersey and Guernsey (and the rest of the Channel Isles) are much closer to the French coast than the English. This leads to some interesting consequences - for example, most of the roads on Jersey are named in French, there is (or at least used to be fairly recently) a requirement to agree to a contract in French when buying a house there, and there are still a few people there who speak their own language.

And, of course, one other consequence - the Channel Isles were near enough to France that the English Channel couldn't really defend them during WW2, with the result that they were occupied. This means that the usual British friendly antagonism towards the Germans isn't quite so friendly on the islands.
posted by ZsigE at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2011


There's also the somewhat cringeworthy Islands Of the North Atlantic (I.O.N.A.), which in turn alienates Iceland…
posted by nfg at 4:17 PM on January 31, 2011


Oh, and many English people think the whole thing is called England too

Au contraire, Leezles, down south we're all too aware of the reality, we just like to pretend we're not because we know it winds up our friends north of the border so much.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:18 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I loved the bit with England transported somewhere West of The Azores in the mid Atlantic. That was cool.

Working at a (German) bank in the US I once remarked to an English colleague in passing that he and I (as Europeans) would like the fact that the convention was to express the date in European format. He objected quite strongly to the inference that he was European and assured me that he was, in point of fact, English. I tried to get into the whole British Isles thing and say that we people from Ireland (or "Western Parts" as sometimes referred to by the BBC in those days on the weather forecasts) didn't really mind that - it was a geographical thing. At least that was was my argument. Nope.

West of The Azores - that is where you shall find Perfidious Albion.
posted by Sk4n at 4:52 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems simple enough to me. Mate.
posted by carter at 4:55 PM on January 31, 2011


"We've got about 3.7 million of them over here. You're welcome to have most of them back, if you want."
posted by Jimbob at 12:05 AM on February 1 [+] [!]

No thanks mate, they'd probably rob the place ;)
posted by marienbad at 4:56 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and that the legal tender is called "English money".

Of course, Scotland has its own money issued by a seemingly random selection of commercial banks, which nobody south of Carlisle accepts.

That's legal tender!
posted by djgh at 5:34 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, that cleared things up a bit. I'm still confused about Ireland but I think they make a pill for that.

But perhaps we can simplify much of the diagram by just bounding it in a single box and labeling it "Places where people are mad and tasteless enough to play test cricket."
posted by loquacious at 6:55 PM on January 31, 2011


This was immensely helpful. I asked my English cousins about the difference between GB and UK recently, and they were stymied (note: they are teenagers).

Aside from all the clarification, one big takeaway for me is that I am really happy the US didn't end up with some agreement where we still recognized the crown back in 1776. I guess its just national pride but...I would not like that particular historical artifact following me around all the time.
posted by milestogo at 7:21 PM on January 31, 2011


As I've noted before, the UK is basically a matroshka doll filled with other countries.
posted by atrazine at 8:24 PM on January 31, 2011


...and that the legal tender is called "English money".

Of course, Scotland has its own money issued by a seemingly random selection of commercial banks, which nobody south of Carlisle accepts.

That's legal tender!



"Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes are unusual, firstly because they are issued by retail banks, not central banks, and secondly, as they are not legal tender anywhere in the UK – not even in Scotland or Northern Ireland – they are in fact promissory notes."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_banknotes
posted by Omission at 12:56 AM on February 1, 2011


That taught me quite a bit. Colour me surprised (as an English woman of Irish ancestry who's just moved to Wales).

Now can someone explain the referendum we've got on march 3?
posted by handee at 12:59 AM on February 1, 2011


Very helpful. Now do one for pre-decimal British money. I've never been able to figure that out.
Already done.
posted by aqsakal at 1:07 AM on February 1, 2011


Just remember:

GB + NI = UK (ignore all the other bits)

:-)
posted by Hugh Routley at 1:44 AM on February 1, 2011


Sk4n: "He objected quite strongly to the inference that he was European and assured me that he was, in point of fact, English."

When my wife were studying ethnology at (a continental European) university, they had a very clear distinction between Europe and The British Isles. The latter are not, in a broad ethnological sense, European.
posted by brokkr at 1:52 AM on February 1, 2011


brokkr: The latter are not, in a broad ethnological sense, European.

Hmm can you elaborate on that? It seems a fairly arbitrary division to draw.
posted by nfg at 2:29 AM on February 1, 2011


The latter are not, in a broad ethnological sense, European.

But we're mostly descended from Romans (Italians), Vikings (Norwegians), Normans (French), Angles (Danes) and Saxons (Germans). How are we not ethnologically European?
posted by idiomatika at 3:52 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not the ethnologist, so bear with me here :)

idiomatika: "Vikings (Norwegians), Normans (French), Angles (Danes)"

Derail: The Normans were descended from Viking settlers (hence the name). Vikings came not just from modern-day Norway, but also from what is now Denmark and Sweden (the latter largely kept out of Great Britain and focused on trade Eastwards). Calling the Angles "Danes" is also mostly incorrect; they were a Germanic people living in the North of present-day Germany. And then you forgot the Jutes, which lived North of the Angles and who also settled in Southern England.

Re-rail: As far as I recall, the argument goes that the relative isolation of the British Isles (or Those Isles, as we've learnt to call them upthread) prevented or delayed the spread of cultural elements which otherwise happened fairly easily between the peoples of continental Europe. This, together with the non-trivial numbers of Gaelic inhabitants, made British culture diverge in a number of places, e.g. judicially.
posted by brokkr at 4:35 AM on February 1, 2011


Also, idiomatika, just to be sure we're on the same page here: I'm talking about ethnological, not ethnical differences.
posted by brokkr at 4:36 AM on February 1, 2011


The great thing about any imperial conception of space, really, is that it is going to be so mad that any kind of information about it will look about as convincing as any other piece. 960 farthings to a pound, which is represented by the letter L, because why not? 100 links to a chain, a hair under 8 inches to a link, 10 chains to a furlong. Again, why not? 25 links to a pole. 22 yards to a chain, unless of course it's a Ramsden's chain, in which case 33 and a third yards. A yard and a quarter makes an ell. An English ell, obviously. What kind of a one-world-government Illuminati maniac would want to standardise the ell? Oh, that's unless the yard is a cloth-yard, because a cloth-yard is an inch longer than a yard. Of course. So a cloth-yard plus a link is a hair under an ell. English. A hair being 0.08 of an inch. Or am I bluffing?
posted by DNye at 6:41 AM on February 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


The other thing that's interesting to note about the Channel Islands (referred to in the video as Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man is that they're not members of the EU. So, if you're from one of these places, unless you meet certain provisions (at least one UK grandparent or 5 years residence in the UK) you are not entitled to European Citizenship, indeed they stamp your passport accordingly.
posted by ob at 7:45 AM on February 1, 2011


According to the Irish Constitution it is not The Republic of Ireland, but Eire or Ireland.
"The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland."

Only use Eire if you are speaking in Irish though, it annoys me other wise.
posted by Fence at 12:17 PM on February 1, 2011


Only use Eire if you are speaking in Irish though, it annoys me other wise.

Well, yes. It would be like insisting on referring to Deutschland instead of to Germany.
posted by aqsakal at 12:32 AM on February 2, 2011


As an English guy living in the US, I thought it was highly annoying and patronising.
posted by schwa at 11:55 AM on February 2, 2011


Thanks for the Ethnology thoughts brokkr. I hadn't made the distinction between geographical location and ethnology of the people living on those rocks - it's an interesting perspective.
posted by Sk4n at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2011


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