Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

British Isles, Commonwealth, United Kingdom, Great Britain, huh?

British Isles, Commonwealth, United Kingdom, Great Britain, huh?

Feb 4th, 2011, 12:17 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,628
British Isles, Commonwealth, United Kingdom, Great Britain, huh?

http://blog.cgpgrey.com/the-differen...hole-lot-more/

While I thought I had these distinctions clear, this entertaining blog taught me some new facts.

Thought anglophiles would enjoy it and/or enjoy tearing it apart!
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 01:41 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,658
I think we went all through this on a PalenQ thread some time ago. Somewhere on the web (on Wikipedia) there is a handy Venn diagram which sorts it all out for those who fret about such things.

I could, of course, quibble: Wales and Northern Ireland aren't on quite the same status as England and Scotland, for all sorts of historical reasons, and are occasionally referred to as the Principality (Wales) and the Province (Northern Ireland) - and I'm not at all clear about which islands he thinks are not part of "Great Britain". But we'll let that pass.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 02:52 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
"I'm not at all clear about which islands he thinks are not part of "Great Britain".

It's very clear. The video seems to think Great Britain's one single island, and therefore Anglesey, Skye etc aren't in it.

Nuts.

But the truth is that these terms developed centuries before our concepts of nationhood etc. The Romans' Britannia referred to all sorts of different chunks of the British Isles, depending who was speaking when. Similarly: when the Scottish kings stole the English crown and reigned over England and Scotland, 'Britain' meant all sorts of things.

Insisting on precision about all this gets no-one anywhere. Unless they're trying to find questions for a pub quiz, of course.
flanneruk is online now  
Feb 4th, 2011, 03:43 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,690
What certainly does need to be challenged, however, is the populat misconception that the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles. This is repeated ad nauseum and finds its way into numerous reference sources - I've not checked but I'd be willing to take bets on Wikipedia repeating the fallacy for instance - not that Wikipedia is a known haunt of facts.
Dr_DoGood is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 03:53 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,012
I was certainly surprised at the idea that the Isle of Wight and Anglesey were not part of "Great Britain" because they were islands. That must mean Portsmouth is not part of Great Britain, either.

As Flanner says, precision on this sort of thing gets one nowhere.
chartley is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 04:11 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
"the populat misconception that the Channel Islands are part of the British Isles"

Well, who's got the right to say they are or aren't? Our language doesn't work that way: and they're no more or less "independent" than the Isle of Man, which no-one disputes are in the British Isles.

It's like these silly arguments about which continent Cyprus and Iceland are in, or insisting Turkey can't join the EU because it's not mainly in Europe (though neither Cyprus nor Iceland are either, according to geological purists).

If someone insists that there's some argument like the Channel Islands are geologically separate from Britain in a way Anglesey isn't, then that geographer needs to be told his job is to interpret geography, not adjudicate on our language.

The Channel Islands are among the largely English-speaking islands off NW Europe over which the British Monarch has reigned for most of the past 400 years. By the standards of most of the rest of the world, that's a bloody coherent and longlasting concept that badly needs a collective noun. If obscurantists want to deny those islands the collective noun 99% of the British Isles population give them, such obscurantists are trespassing outside their area of knowledge.
flanneruk is online now  
Feb 4th, 2011, 04:19 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
"there is a handy Venn diagram "

Will a Euler diagram do?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Br...er_diagram.svg

And I'm one who despite knowing that the Channel Islands are geologically part of the British Isles consider them to be "by common usage".

"I was certainly surprised at the idea that the Isle of Wight and Anglesey were not part of "Great Britain" because they were islands. That must mean Portsmouth is not part of Great Britain, either."

What about islands like Lindisfarne which are cut off by the sea for part of the day or Eel Island in the Thames which requires a boat or a bridge to reach it.
alanRow is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 04:24 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
AREN'T geologically...
alanRow is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 04:42 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,658
>.It's very clear. The video seems to think Great Britain's one single island, and therefore Anglesey, Skye etc aren't in it.<<

I was going by the text, and being polite in case he really wasn't being that stupid. If he was, then he is, indeed, nuts. "Great Britain" appeared, or was popularised, as a term under James VI and I, and I can imagine his reaction to any suggestion that all those islands weren't part of his idea of Great Britain. So there.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 04:51 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
In other words, whatever someone says just nod your head and agree with them. It's as likely to be right as anything else.

But whatever you do don't get drawn in otherwise you'll end up trying to work out why people from two separate nations play in the same national rugby union team, why an English team plays in the Scottish football leagues or Welsh teams in English leagues and why the English FA Cup final was played for several years in Wales.

Like most things in the British Isles / United Kingdom / Great Britain / Scotland / England / Wales / Northern Ireland / Ireland / Channel Islands / Isle of Man / Eel Island it's best not to ask "why"
alanRow is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 05:12 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
"why the English FA Cup final was played for several years in Wales."

...not to mention why so many Welsh National Eisteddfods (or, by analogy with 'criteria', 'pappadam' and 'seraphim', Eisteddfodau) in the early 20th century were held in England.
flanneruk is online now  
Feb 4th, 2011, 05:46 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,083
"it's best not to ask "why" "

It is simple, we all love each other.



Muck x
Mucky is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 05:58 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,690
Quote Flanner: "If someone insists that there's some argument like the Channel Islands are geologically separate from Britain in a way Anglesey isn't, then that geographer needs to be told his job is to interpret geography, not adjudicate on our language."

Eh? but that's the whole point. The British Isles as a term has no reference outside of its geographical one - i.e to define the extent of that archiplego off the northwest coast of Europe. To suggest otherwise - that somehow it defines the "largely" English Speaking communities "over which the British Monarch has reigned for most of the past 400 years" is fundamentally incorrect:
The British Isles were known as the Pretannic or Britannic Isles and hence Pretannia or Britania (whence Britain and British)to the Rome of Ceasar (50BC). Long before any English was being spoken here and long, long before any single political entity controlled the islands.

British Isles is purely a geographical term and, as you therefore recognise does not encompass the Channel Isles which are geographically extentions of the Cotentin Peninsula.

The problem with Great Britain is that is both a political and a geographical term.
As PatrickLondon points out it was popularised, as a political term under James VI/I and most definitely includes all the off-shore islands surrounding England Scotland & Wales (to be clear, that excludes Ireland and Man and their off-shore islands).
Geographically the definition is just not as precise - it's the main island in the archipelego and that clearly does exclude Harris, Arran, Rhum, Angelsey, Lundy, The Scillies etc. Whether it also excludes Sheppey and Foulness, Furness and Horsea Islands etc is the sort of debate that the corduroy clad can enjoy ad infinitum in the pub after a hard day at the geography coalface.
Dr_DoGood is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 07:01 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,658
Well, there you have it. I don't know what it is, but you certainly have it.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 07:06 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
I find it interesting that Great Britain doesnt have an Olympic football team. According to the BBC this is because they are represented at the Olympics as GB, and each country in GB has its own league and they dont want put together a football team for the UK as a whole - The football governing bodies of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all opposed to the notion of a Great Britain team, fearing the implications for their own futures as separate entities.

Just found that interesting...
jamikins is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 07:20 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
"I find it interesting that Great Britain doesnt have an Olympic football team. "

People who live in Northern Ireland can represent either "Team GB" or Ireland in the Olympics

"the sort of debate that the corduroy clad can enjoy ad infinitum in the pub after a hard day at the geography coalface."

That sort of attitude accounts for the low repute geography is held in in the UK - sorry The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland - these days

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12359446
alanRow is offline  
Feb 4th, 2011, 07:48 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,511
Core, I must be suffering from anti-america flu today. Why is the United states , (of which not all parts are states but some commonwealths etc) and then Alaska and gosh oh golly Hawaii all one country?

Look it's politics guys

By the way dis you see that the Duke of Edinburgh owned the courtyard in Jerusalem that the Israeli's have just given to Russia, go figure.

Going to bed now with some rum
bilboburgler is online now  
Feb 4th, 2011, 10:36 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
" The British Isles as a term has no reference outside of its geographical one "

'The British Isles' has precisely the reference English speakers choose to give it. And it's simply no business of geographers or geologists to stick their noses where they don't belong.

If English were a language, like French, that allows a bunch of academics to delude themselves they control how the language should be spoken, things might be different.

But it's not. The British Isles, in English, refers to ALL the generally English-speaking islands off the NW coast of Europe, because that's what people speaking the British dialects of English mean when they use the term . Whatever the views of geologists, Irish chauvinists with a chip on their shoulder or silly academics afraid of upsetting any terorist sympathisers in their audience.

Now if geologists want a different definition to use when talking to other consenting geologists about geological matters: that's entirely their affair. English allows any amount of absurd misuses in specialist jargon. But English doesn't allow anyone - not the BBC DG, not the editors of the OED, and certainly not a bunch of scientists - to dictate usage in real English.

I suspect this discussion might not proceed much further. DoGood is making a fundamental category mistake - but sounds as if he's unaware what that is.
flanneruk is online now  
Feb 7th, 2011, 12:42 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,511
Josser I liked how he said what he said but full of errors (from a British point of view).

Still no answers about the big US questions so back to work
bilboburgler is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:04 AM.