The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour

Dec 25th, 2005, 04:58 AM
  #1  
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The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour

If anyone's interested, I'm reading a great book at the moment by Kate Fox callled 'Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour' (I've checked and it's available on Amazon).

I'm English and everything she says makes absolutely perfect sense and clarifies so much of what I see/do on a daily basis. And more to the point, explains to the visitor the customs and etiquettes that probably seem so alien and confusing:

* How and why we queue (stand in line) - for everything!
* Why not waiting your turn to be served in a pub is an enormous breach of social etiquette
* When it is acceptable to strike up conversation with a stranger
* Why you should never allude to your salary or income
* Why anything other than unmitigated understatement is immediately dismissed as bragging and boastfulness (a cardinal sin)!

It's written in a really entertaining and 'everyday' style, making it a really easy read.

(By the way, I don't know the author and I don't work for the publisher, I just genuinely like the book and thought you might be interested! )

Tallulah is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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Thank you! I have several English chums and I am constantly trying to understand them. I am sure they will appreciate my effort towards learning more about them!
faredolce is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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I don't think that we deliberately try to confuse others, but we do a jolly good job of it!

Happy Christmas, by the way!
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 06:25 AM
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There is also a book called BritThink AmeriThink that is really entertaining...and quite apt!
going_places is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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Sounds like a book I'd enjoy, written maybe in a similar way to Lynn Truss's "Eats Shoots and Leaves".
crepes_a_go_go is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 06:54 AM
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I've always noticed all the disclaimers and modifiers in common English speech, I guess some of that is the understatement mentioned above: "That was quite dreadful." "Rather unkind, don't you think?" "Thank you very much indeed" for something like passing the salt shaker.
gramercy is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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I will definitely try to read the book. Once in Bovey Tracy, at an inn there, a gentleman was reading his newspaper in the pub. There was a candle burning on the table that eventually ignited his paper. When we quickly pointed out that his paper was on fire, he says "Well spotted" and blew out the flame. Now that was an English comment that I hadn't heard.

I also notice that the English don't complain but just sit stoically when something goes wrong on a tour. The Americans, of which I am one, make no effort to hide their dissatisfaction.

Cheers, and have a Merry Christmas.
Margo
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Dec 25th, 2005, 08:58 AM
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<I also notice that the English don't complain but just sit stoically when something goes wrong on a tour. The Americans, of which I am one, make no effort to hide their dissatisfaction>

Ahh...but if you pay close attention, you'll notice 'the look', and maybe even an almost audible 'tut' - we can be quite upfront about our disapproval when really riled - haha!!

Tx
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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Thanks Tallulah. Sounds like I need to get this book immediately. Even after many years of marriage, I'm still often baffled by my Englishman and his family.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:10 AM
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If you are interested in the Pub rules, I strongly urge you to read an article written by the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) on Pub Etiquite. It is an interesting and really fun read and cleared up some points I had failed to discover during my own (Not very scientific)research.

Go to: http://www.sirc.org/publik/ptpintro.html

nukesafe is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:21 AM
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nukesafe: I had a look at that article and thought much of it sounded familiar - then realised that the author of the book I mentioned is co-director of SIRC! The rest of the book is written in the same very easy to read style..
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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I am English and I think it is utter nonsense to stereotype an entire nation.
And to the person who wrote that the British do not complain, but sit stoically with their mouths shut must have been visiting a country very different from the one I was raised in. There are far more Hyacith Buckets in England than there are Miss Marples.
Balenciaga is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Well of course one can't make sweeping generalisations about an entire nation, particularly one which has such multi-ethnic roots, but I didn't feel it necessary to point that out since it's such an obvious point.

What this is is an entertaining, though scientific, study into the psyche of a nation..and an opportunity to poke fun at ourselves. Whether you agree or not, that is something that we do rather a lot.
Tallulah is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Gramercy, I loved your post about "Thank you very much indeed".

It reminded me about when my sisters and I went to see "Camelot" at the Los Angeles Music Center. As we were leaving, there was Roger Moore, tall as life! My sister asked him for an autograph and when she thanked him for it, instead of a mere "you're welcome", he said "It's my pleasure."

I swear, chills went down my spine! How debonair!
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Dec 25th, 2005, 11:44 AM
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"You're welcome" is American.
English people say, "That's all right", "Don't mention it", "It's a pleasure" etc,
There is no set response.
MissPrism is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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I was quite taken with the Kate Fox book since my mother was British, and my parents often had completely different definitions of "appropriate" behaviours and responses.

On the other hand, since stereotyping can be dangerous and also deliciously amusing, I also enjoyed the remark of an American guest commentator during the NBC coverage of the Charles/Diana wedding. As I recall,while married to an Englishman and living abroad in London for well over a decade, the woman was constantly queried by Brits as to why Americans did this and why Americans did that. She found herself at quite a loss to explain US eccentricities until she stumbled upon a brilliant explanation for ALL American behavior:

"Americans believe that Death is optional."

If you think about it, her remark brilliantly covers just about everything.

Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas.

My very best regards,
Charles
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Dec 25th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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I loved that article about pub etiquette... I'd seen it years ago. Can you give us a tantalizing bit from the book you recommended?
GreenDragon is offline  
Dec 25th, 2005, 10:46 PM
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Another distinction: Americans believe that life is serious, but not hopeless. The English believe that it's hopeless, but not serious.

But - "...the English don't complain"? Eh? Did I read that right? This will come as a surprise to Australians, for whom the "whingeing Pom" is an archetypical figure. (Q: How do you pick the plane that's just arrived from London? A: The whining doesn't stop when the engines are turned off.)

I agree that any reference to one's wealth or status is a sign of bad breeding, and I admire the way the English upper class dress like bums.

CharlesIII - "my mother was British"? A bit vague, mate - was she English, Welsh or Scots? (My father was English, and I've always found "British" a pretty meaningless term).
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Dec 26th, 2005, 12:25 AM
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It is an interesting stereotype that we Brits don't complain and I think is a total misconception. Here in Wales we complain about everything and if you break the previously mentioned pub etiquette here in Cardiff you will probably get a telling off from the bar man not to mention the customers around you.
In places like merthyr its quite likely that you may disappear without trace if you jump the queue at the bar.
But I think the same goes for Scotland NIreland and certainly parts of Northern England where they won't take any messing.
The traditional 'stiff upper lip' brigade will undoubtedly curse under their breath and be very gentlmanly about it all, until eventually even he will have had enough and you will get the " Look here old chap I've been waiting to be served far longer than you, you absolute cad"

So All of Britain (and I agree with Neil, pretty useless term to describe 4 different countries) will respond so look out.

Muck
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Dec 26th, 2005, 12:57 AM
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Hmm, Aussies are not bad at whinging either.
I actually had one moaning to me that there were no decent beaches in Britain.
I told him that you don't fly thousands of miles to lie on a beach and said that it was like me complaining about the lack of Gothic cathedrals in Australia.
 

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