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10 Things You Should Never Say to a British Person

United Kingdom
by Amy Longworth Aug 31, 2015
1. “I love British accents!”

I’ll begin with my biggest bugbear. Let me just give a quick geography lesson here. Great Britain (or, rather, the United Kingdom) is made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. All of these countries have very distinct national characteristics and very different accents. Within these countries there are even further variances in accent. Like, huge variances. A person from Glasgow will sound absolutely nothing like a person from London.

There is no such thing as a “British accent.” Tell us instead that you like our accent, and don’t insult us by instantly letting on you know nothing about our country and culture.

2. “I can do the best British accent.”

This is a bad move for two reasons. As stated above, “British” accents don’t exist. For that very reason, your version probably isn’t very good — think Anne Hathaway in “One Day” when she somehow managed to mix a heavy Yorkshire accent with elocution-lesson English (appalling).

Also, the novelty of hearing an American bark “tea and crummmmpets!” at you like it’s the funniest thing you’ll ever hear tends not to be the funniest thing you’ll ever hear when you’ve heard it several times in one evening.

3. “Oh, you’re from London!”

Maybe your victim is in fact from London and you’re very good at guessing. But that would be like me hearing you were from America and then immediately assuming you were from New York, when actually you hail from a backwater in North Dakota.

Stick with “the UK,” “Britain,” or, if you’ve really been doing your homework, “England”/”Scotland” (or whatever else you can discern — you’ll score several points for specific counties).

4. “Oh, you’re from Europe!”

The UK is not Europe. Well, okay, technically yes it is part of Europe — but it’s also not. Not to us. We’re pretty proud of our poky little island, and we don’t tend to lump ourselves in with mainland Europe. We’re British, thank you very much, not European.

5. “Cheers, mate!”

This is very closely linked to point #2. But “cheers, mate” is, without doubt, the most irksome. Why? Because every other person we meet will invariably drop it into conversation. And we cringe. Every. Single. Time. Just…don’t do it. Rise above.

6. “My great-grandmother was British!”

It’s not that this is annoying; it’s just kind of irrelevant. One thing I noticed in the US was that you guys all seem to be very aware of your family tree; aside from being ‘Murican on the face of it, you know your roots, where your family come from, and you like talking about it.

Now, much as I think this is fascinating, you must understand that in Britain we kind of don’t care about that sort of thing. Unless we are very closely descended from a family of immigrants, our cultural ties to our ancestors are generally nonexistent. No offence, but I’m just not bothered if you have some British lineage somewhere down the line — unless it turns out you’re a secret descendant of the Tudor family or something, but that is unlikely.

7. “Ohmaigaaad I could listen to you talk all day.”

Is there anything more awkward than having someone look at you with pure adoration and tell you they could listen to you forever? Not really. Our awkward British dispositions aren’t programmed to cope with the simplest of compliments, so direct and unwarranted declarations of love from strangers are just painfully cringe-inducing.

8. “Do you live in a castle?”

9.9999 times out of 10, the answer is no. Don’t bother.

9. “You drink in Britain? But you do it in a classy way, right?”

I have legitimately been asked this question, and although the girl who spoke these now infamous words is one of my best friends, I still cringe when I think about this. Here’s another nugget of cultural wisdom for you about the UK: We drink a lot. In fact, we are renowned around Europe for being disgusting, binge-drinking louts.

Save yourself the embarrassment if you’re even curious about what British drinking habits are like. FYI: We go hard, we’re disgusting, and we drink a lot of hard cider. Not classy at all.

10. “What is a crumpet?”

The trouble here, apart from the question becoming so repetitive, is that I just don’t know how to describe a crumpet. My befuddled on-the-spot answers have included “like some kind of bread with holes in it” and “kind of like a pancake but really fat and holey.”

Spare your British friend/crush/stranger from accurately describing the world’s most confusing carbohydrate, and do your research instead. And if you really want to impress us, make some yourself (recipe here), because crumpets are distressingly hard to come by in your average American supermarket.

This post was originally published at Literally, Darling and is reprinted here with permission.


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