Provinces of the United Kingdom

Old Jun 20th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Provinces of the United Kingdom

Both Rick Steves and Fodor refer (in their 2010 editions on Ireland) to Northern Ireland as a "province." Steves goes further to describe England, Scotland, and Wales as also being provinces of the UK. Can someone please enlighten me as to the use of this terminology? I understand that both Scotland and Wales have been going through devolution for some time and have visited a Northern Ireland official website devoted to devolution for Northern Ireland.

My understanding of the correct terminology in the above cases would benefit from some learned assistance, please.
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 11:08 PM
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There's no "correct" terminology for the UK's component parts (any more, of course than there is in the US, where almost every fool knows there are really only 46 states, and many fools don't even know what the status of DC, PR, USVI, Guam, etc actually is).

Local boosters of Scotland and Wales like to refer to their provinces as countries (though both take less responsibility for their own funding than the average one-horse town in Nebraska). Pedants like me who call them 'provinces' generally do so in the knowledge it'll ruffle a few feathers, and it's a term best avoided if you're not prepared for the consequences. 'Country' is used both by full-blooded independence advocates and by the local majority who are more than happy to keep on spongeing on English taxpayers.

No-one calls Northern Ireland a country: 'the province' is generally accepted in formal articles, though many Prod fundamentalists prefer 'Ulster' and some Catholics strongly in favour of a united Ireland prefer 'the North'. Outsiders can talk about 'Northern Ireland' without upsetting anyone. Many Northern Irish, from all points of the nationalist spectrum, find references to the bits of the UK that aren't Northern Ireland as 'the Mainland' patronising and irritating. 'Britain' is generally more tactful, and essential in the Republic, whose residents often get really, really, annoyed at the use of 'the Mainland'.

If you really need a generic term to describe what England, Scotland, Wales and NI are, "countries" is fine in most contexts, though it's well worth making sure you don't do that in Northern Ireland. 'Provinces' in most contexts will piss off a gratifying number of Welchers and Scotchpeople.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 12:59 AM
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Technically speaking Wales is a Principality .
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 01:46 AM
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The BBC gets round the sensitivities involved by referring to "the nations and regions" (without saying which is which).

Checking this out, I stumbled on this Wikipedia entry, which looks pretty comprehensive, and at first glance I cant' see any glaring mistakes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Termino..._British_Isles

Have fun, but don't worry too much about it.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 02:23 AM
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More bile from flimflan. I swear the only good reason for maintaining the Union is it pisses him off so much.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 02:29 AM
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Wales in a Principality; Scotland is a country; England has no idea what it is (actually, it's a country too).

Ulster is a province, but that includes three counties in the Republic. God knows what is is now.

Sheila (unruffling feathers)
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 02:59 AM
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Flanner--

Only 46 states? News to me. What happened to the other four?

There are 50 states plus Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 03:03 AM
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"What happened to the other four?"

Nothing.

They've always been Commonwealths.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 03:26 AM
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>They've always been Commonwealths.<

One trap set and duly walked into lol!

Virgina, Kentucky,Pennsylvania and Mass if I'm not mistaken.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 04:43 AM
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Well, I LIVE in the so-called "commonwealth" of Virginia..actually in the so-called "communist" region and I'm surprised that our Simon Shama wannabee didn't tell you about which "state" has the wealthiest counties, which on has the smallest number, the largest, etc.. but he's been much too busy checking up on who is boffing whom over in "the next constituency" and probably watching the videos as we speak.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 05:00 AM
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Aren't Scotland and England Kingdoms rather than just countries?

The ancient Province of Ulster also included Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan, now in the Republic. It represents one of the four ancient kingdoms of Ireland.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 06:27 AM
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>

Not in the plural since the Act of Union of 1707.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 06:52 AM
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I should think the only rule anyone need remember is to avoid any label for Northern Ireland when you're there. Just refer to it as "here".
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 08:24 AM
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commonwealths--semantics, schmantics.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 08:40 AM
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"Province" sounds so . . . Canadian.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 09:52 AM
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flanneruk, you never disappoint, do you? I'd have bet money on your being the first to respond and would have won both on that and your tone. The last time I took your authoritative advice on something you were not only dead wrong but also demonstrated an abysmal lack of actual knowledge on how things get done in the States. And, you managed to be insulting for no apparent good reason or benefit in doing so. You state a goal of ruffling feathers and you are quite competent in achieving same. What I don't understand is why.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 10:15 AM
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"The last time I took your authoritative advice on something you were not only dead wrong "

Which was?
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 10:24 AM
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BigBlue, it's safest to refer to England, Scotland and Wales (yes, even Wales, pedants!) as countries, if only to massage regional pride (I speak as someone with a fiercely proud Welsh partner).

As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, I'd go with Patrick's suggestion - I once got in trouble with an Irish expat for calling it 'Northern Ireland'.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 10:53 AM
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flanneruk, please refer to the thread I began on January 3, 2010, on Disabled Parking France/Spain.

"The official answer to your question is that there's nothing a Californian can do about handicapped parking in Europe."

You cite an "official" (which certainly sounds authoritative to me) answer which happens to be wrong as you will note from my posting later in that thread in which I cite an agreement struck in 1997 between the EU and certain other countries (including the US) which permits recognition of blue badges from outside the EU.

"No US state has bothered to try to make its schemes compatible with the EU system."

States (and commonwealths) do not negotiate with the EU. That is a function reserved generally to the federal government.

"Nor would lobbying your state to be less isolationist..."

This is a gratuitous remark without justification, merit, or meaning to me.

Further discussion on this lines is repugnant to me and will serve no useful purpose. The record stands.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Northern Ireland is the official name of that place, and only people who are pigheaded would object to the use of the term. [There is, sadly, no shortage of pigheaded people.]

I live in Ulster, but not in Northern Ireland, and I dislike the name being used to refer to Northern Ireland, but I'm not likely to make a big deal of it. There are more important questions, like "what will I have for dinner?".

Irish people of nationalist sentiment (whether extreme or moderate) generally refer to "the north", "the north of Ireland", or "the six counties". Sometimes the expression "the wee north" is used, usually in a disparaging sense, but sometimes in an affectionate or jocose way.

If you want to annoy a unionist (which I generally don't) you can refer to NI as a statelet.
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