Monday, March 4, 2013

10 Things About Americans That Drive Brits Nuts...

I stumbled across this article by accident.

I actually have always found these little differences fascinating. In "He's Bewitched," the main character, Rhys, was British and I had to do a lot of fact-checking for the smallest things. First and foremost, I didn't want to insult my British readers.

I haven't written a British character since then because missing the smallest thing could ruin the whole book. And, as a side note, I don't believe in writing out dialogue and trying to spell out accents for the reader line by line. I think it tires the reader and often become condescending and insulting if you take it too far. And this goes for writing dialogue with all characters, especially those with southern accents. It's much easier to state that the character speaks with a British accent (or any accent) and then write the dialogue as you would normally write it. Readers will get it and there's no need to try to write with a British accent. You can add little things every now and then to show they have an accent, but not the entire book.

In any event, here are three examples from the article I linked to below:

7. Insisting that turkey is tasty There’s a good reason why Brits only eat this galumphing fowl once a year, then bitch about it behind its carcass. No matter how many saltwater baths you give your bird, turkey meat is dry, insipid and stringy. Yet Americans put the powdery poultry in everything – from burgers and chili to meatballs and lasagna – and make it the culinary centerpiece of not one but two celebrations.

In all honesty, this really does depend on the cook. If you're not a cook you probably shouldn't go near turkey. It can be the most horrific source of protein on the planet. But if you know how to cook, it can also be the best. There's an old Julia Child show floating around in reruns where she actually cuts the entire turkey up and roasts it that way in order to get even cooking.

9. Pretentious pronunciation.Americans, please note: saying “erb” instead of “herb” and pronouncing “fillet” without the “t” is not clever or sophisticated. You are not French. Make an actual socialist your president and then we’ll talk.

This one made me smile. I know people who would say we've come very close in the last two general elections.

 10. Saying “panties,” “fanny” and “bangs” We’re all aware from watching Americans onscreen that these are the words for knickers, a bottom and a fringe. But when you live here, occasionally you’re forced to deploy these abominations in real life sentences. Only the other day, I said, “Can you trim my bangs, please?” I felt dirty afterwards. But “panties” is much worse, somehow infantilizing and over-sexualizing ladies’ unmentionables. No word should do both these things.

When you consider the fact that the British call cigarettes "fags" and sausage "bangers," I think we're about even on this one.

There are seven more examples, and you can read them here. Photo of bangers and mash above, here.


Shelagh said...

I'm British, but I quite like turkey :) I always get a 'bronze' turkey - much more tasty than the factory-farmed white turkeys. I read, years ago, that the remedy for it being dry, is to time the cooking so that you can let it stand for about 45 minutes before carving. That way, all the juices under the skin will sink back into the meat. Having said all that - nothing beats roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. When I was a kid, my gran always served it the old-fashioned way, ie, yorkshire pud and onion gravy as a starter, followed by the roast dinner.

I don't have a problem with our differences as long as we accept we are different and don't try an impose our values on each other.

ryan field said...

My favorite dinner...of all roast beef and yorkshire pudding.

Shelagh said...

You do realise that you're ruining the stereotype that Americans have no taste? So, what drives Americans nuts about Brits?

ryan field said...

Ha! That's interesting because most Americans I know are a little intimidated by Brits...especially when it comes to theater. But I can't think of anything offhand. I don't have many regrets in far...but one was that I didn't take the opportunity to study for a semester at Wroxton. I went to Fairliegh Dickinson University and they have a campus there. As an English major I still regret it to this day.

starburst said...

Americans, please note: saying “erb” instead of “herb” and pronouncing “fillet” without the “t” is not clever or sophisticated.

I'm from S. Yorkshire in England, and my accent is what people call "common" so I naturally miss out t's and shorten words and sentences without meaning to.

Oh, and I love Yorkshire puddings, too, especially with raspberry jam. - would be a crime if I didn't considering I'm from Yorkshire.

ryan field said...

Sometimes when we're watching a British film Tony has trouble understanding the accents. I usually don't, but I interpret for him. It only happens when the characters speak too fast. But I would imagine that happens to the English when they hear a strong accent from the US.

starburst said...

Even my friends from Lincoln can't understand me sometimes. I naturally talk fast so I'm always having to repeat myself haha.

I you're right, I can't understood some American accents :)