The British – their culture
People in Britain are generally very proud to be British. They feel that their longstanding history has had a great influence on the world, mainly for the better. Britain has produced many great people -pioneers in science, innovation, exploration, medicine, engineering, commerce, manufacture, architecture, the arts, literature, culture and sport. The British attitude can be seen as arrogant that is admired by some and hated by others. The British “stiff upper lip” can also be seen as a people not able to show its feelings. Its resilience in both World Wars and gives a sense of national pride. The hosting of the Olympic Games recently gave the country a huge boost in morale and pride as its athletes excelled in many areas with many gold medals – third on the medal table – even though we are good at the sports where you need to sit down – rowing, horse riding and cycling.
The United Kingdom has given birth to a range of major international sports including: association football, rugby(union and league), cricket, golf, lawn tennis, table tennis,badminton,squash, rounders, hockey, boxing, snooker, billiards and curling.
The British generally expect good manners and are in general very polite people. They react well to basic politeness and expect this from travellers. There is not a strong culture of subservient service in shops and pubs. They react badly if a visitor asks for a drink by saying –“Give me..” or “I need…” Pleases and thank you’s go a long way! They will then go out of their way to help you.
When travelling through the British Isles they are proud of the own area and have slightly differences in manners and expectations in each. These are for you to find out and cannot be listed here – only to say that we like visitors who like us.
It is importance to note that the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom are very different although politically linked through the central Westminster government. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own devolved government and Scotland will vote in 2014 for a complete independence. It is right therefore to regard each as separate country although all British. You definitely not “Scotch” – you drink that and Welshmen are Welsh. The Irish are Irish and if they want you to know which side of the border they are North or South – they will tell you. Owing to the tensions in Northern Ireland, people are usually “British” or “Irish”, but it is not advised to question this, just accept it if you are told. Southern Ireland, known as Eire is an independent country and should not be wanted to be called British.
Great Britain is Scotland Wales and England. Add Northern Ireland and you have the United Kingdom. The Union flag is often incorrectly called the “Union Jack” – strictly it’s only the Jack when it’s on a ship, but is the recognisable Red White and Blue flag.
The population of Britain is predominantly Caucasian (90%) but many different communities are well-established here – Asian and Afro-Caribbean being the main groups. We are very aware of discriminatory behaviour or attitudes and racist comments are not tolerated.
Generally there are many forms of address. Usually it should be Sir or Ma’am (to rhyme with Jam ) if you are in a restaurant. Other terms in various situations are endearing so don’t be surprised or offended, especially in a market, if you’re called mate, darling, dear, dearie, flower, love, me duck, duckie, , guv, son, or any other similar pet name by someone you don’t know. It’s quite normal.
English is the major language of Britain and is spoken throughout the countries. There are a whole host of dialects and accents hailing from certin areas. These canconfuse visitors as at first might sound a completely different language. Cockney Geordie, Scouse and broard Scottish accent can leave you none the wiser. Many other languages from different countries are spoken within their communities but the only language (other than English) to have legal status throughout the UK is Welsh. This is only generally heard in West Wales and they will also speak English. In Wales all road signs, public documents, broadcasting, etc. are bi-lingual.
Gaelic is spoken in the Western Isles and the western fringes of the Scottish
Highlands and has legal status in Scotland. Again English will also be spoken.
Don’t worry if you cannot understand what people are saying to each other in
Scotland because the Scots accent can be too strong for visitors. Many
British people can’t understand them either.