6 posts tagged with English by MiguelCardoso.
Displaying 1 through 6 of 6.
Forget British. Define English. The perennial ex-pat and honorary Yank Christopher Hitchens may not be the best Englishman to define it - though his embarrassingly reactionary brother Peter is even less suited - but at least he has a go. For everyone else in the world, there are the Scottish, the Welsh, even the Northern Irish - all strong nationalities in their own right, each one older and more culturally solid than the slightly French, slightly German and slightly Dutch English. So why persist, in this post-imperialist day and age, in the myth of the Brit? If it is a myth. Americans, whether from the U.S. or Canada, certainly continue to buy into it. Or is it, for the rest of the world, too dangerous for the English - with devolution raging - to find their own, muddied identity? Think of those football hooligans and their grotesque politics, St.George face-masks and flags. (Via Arts And Letters Daily.)
It's Not What You Say, It's The Way That You Say It: George Bernard Shaw famously remarked that every time an Englishman opens his mouth it's guaranteed that another Englishman will despise him. This website offers a motley and unintentionally hilarious collection of the many, ever-growing pronunciations of the English language. The variety is so wide you could almost be listening to different languages. But is a particular accent still an anti-democratic barrier, strictly revealing your position on the socio-geographic ladder, as it was in the days Nancy Mitford discussed U and non-U vocabulary? Or have upper-class accents in the U.K. and U.S. (note the Boston Brahmin samples), once coveted and preferred, now become the opposite: unforgivable impediments? Does posh speech exist in Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as it does in the U.K. and U.S.? In other words: Does it still matter? (Quicktime Audio for main and fourth link; Real Audio for third.)
Do Most Of You Yanks Really Understand What The Brits Here Are On About? Although the cultural mistranslations are probably more a question of tone and habits of irony and understatement, Jeremy Smith's online American·British British·American Dictionary, to be published next September, might be of some assistance. Although I still prefer Terry Gliedt's older but pithier United Kingdom English For The American Novice and even Scotsman Chris Rae's English-to-American Dictionary. Here's a little BBC quiz to test your skills. It seems that Canadians, Australians and [another cute quiz coming up!] New Zealanders are the only Metafilterians to completely capture all the varieties of English usage here. Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that non-U.S. users know much, much less about England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand et caetera than vice-versa? Does anyone else get the occasional feeling we're not exactly speaking the same language here?
Why Are The English-Speaking Nations Crap At Foreign Languages? The standard explanation is that they're lazy and arrogant and expect everyone in the world to speak English. Well - surprise, surprise - that's not Philip Hensher's experience and it certainly isn't mine either. So why - or what - is it? [More inside.]
How To Say Yes (Or No) To British Food: Apart from the language barrier (ably demolished by Mike Etherington's magnificent online dictionary), British food has a dreadful reputation all over the world. Yet people who try it, whatever their nationality, often find they enjoy it. If it's properly made, that is. Enter Helen Watson's impeccable and ethnically correct recipes. And those who can't be bothered to cook can always plump for the many ready-made goodies (and some real stinkers) now offered by internet mail order firms. The most promising has got to be, with over 2,500 goodies, the FBC Brit Shop. Unfortunately it's based in Japan and will only start delivering in September. The best of the rest is probably yummy British Delights. My mother's English so I'm obviously biased, but aren't a lot of people missing out on the unique gastronomic charms of the good old United K? Oh yes![FBC link pilfered from the Boing Boing larder.]
A Little Light Relief - and Brush Up Your English While You're At It. In the spirit of poking fun at one's own flesh and blood - and respecting all those who aren't - I offer the most appalling tribute to Shakespeare's and Emerson's language since time itself began. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the great Portuguese scholar Pedro Carolino, whose "English As She Is Spoke" Mark Twain considered to be the funniest book ever written. Start with "Familiar Dialogues 1" and, if you've still been able to keep a straight face, try "Idiotisms and Proverbs" for the full effect... (Thanks to Ganz's Humor Page)