Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Confessions of a stereotypical Brit

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Although I'm not a particularly radical person, I've always considered myself an individual. Since moving abroad, however, I've been faced with lots of British stereotypes, and I've been surprised at how many I conform to! 

I have a southern English accent.
Many people assume that all Brits speak "the Queen's English". Having grown up near south London, with parents who always nagged me to speak "properly", I have the accent that most people expect, which is such a shame! There are so many wonderful accents and dialects in Britain, which I find much more interesting than my own.

I am too polite.
I constantly say phrases such as, "I was wondering...", "Would you mind...", "If it's no trouble..." and "Perhaps this might be better...", which are often unnecessary. It's not that people from other nationalities are rude, but in Britain it does seem to be true that we don't speak very directly, and are worried about offending people.

I queue.
This is related to the politeness - I'd be mortified if I offended someone by taking their place, especially if they didn't want to be rude and tell me so!

I'm a royalist.
I love the Royal family, and think they're a valuable part of my culture. It's something quintessentially British and vital to our tourism, so many people don't realise what a controversial topic it has become in the UK.

I talk about the weather.
I'm not great at small talk, so weather is a fail-safe topic I often fall back on. I suppose it's something I know is a part of everyone's life, no matter who I'm talking to, so we'll usually have something to say.

And (of course) I drink tea with milk and sugar.
Although I don't have "high tea" on a daily basis, being abroad has made me appreciate the healing and comforting properties of a sweet mug of Twinings, Tetley's, or Yorkshire Gold.

It seems that, despite the many things that make me distinct from the rest of Britain, stereotyping can sometimes be right! These typical national images will never apply to the whole country, and there are many stereotypes which don't apply to me at all: I don't have bad teeth; I've never worn a bowler hat; I don't have Sunday roasts every week. Living abroad has, however, highlighted that stereotypes exist for a reason, and I do have some things in common with many people from my country.


What stereotypes do you have of Britain? Do you think it's useful to have stereotypes of other nationalities?


Monisa's picture
Monisa 1 November, 2014 - 05:20

I don't like stereotypical ideas about different nations. There are black sheep in every community, even among royals! We cannot judge a group by representing the black sheep as a staunch member.
Having stereotypical notions in our mind also tarnishes the good side of the nation.
Because stereotypical ideas are present in the world, people still struggle to gain equality among themselves.

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MALINE's picture
MALINE 10 November, 2013 - 01:35

I think stereotypes are the worst thing ever invented.
How can you judge someone for been from an specific country? I think that´s absolutely ridiculous and offensive.

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 2 November, 2013 - 14:35

I don't have stereotypes about any country, I find it completely useless and dull. How can we judge anyone just because of the place where he comes from? It's really stupid. For example, people from Japan are diligent. Can we say every man or woman from Japan are diligent? No, of course not. There're maybe lot of diligent people, but lazy too. Or Americans're fat, Serbians're stubborn etc. Has anyone gave a survey to all people from one country? None never. So, we have no right to judge anyone just because of their nationality. I know, it's much easier to say that than to put it into action, but we should try to avoid all judgements and wrong prejudices. We live in a modern society and if we want it to become developed, we should break all the barriers.
Once I heard someone saying: He ignores me like an English man. It was a kind of stereotype, but we shouldn't listen to them, but have our own opinion.

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learningenglish282's picture
learningenglish282 10 October, 2013 - 15:07

thanks to the article i figured out that talking about weather is one of the British stereotypes. and i think queueing is the stereotype i have of Britain. Many people in my country jump the line and it makes me furious. i like the politeness of British people, it's great that people are polite, kind and love each other. There would be peaceful and safe all over the globe.
In my point of view, i don't think it's useful to have stereotypes of other nationalities because we will lose our nation's stereotypes and cultures...

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Harabeli Supersweet's picture
Harabeli Supersweet 8 October, 2013 - 16:24

British people have a wonderful accent and I love to listen to them talking. I think that they're polite and I really appriciate that. It's something rare in my country, maybe that's why. It's not always useful to have stereotypes of other nationalities, but like the writer of this article said "Stereotypes exist for a reason.".

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justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 8 October, 2013 - 15:44

Wonderful history, historic, home of cricket, awesome government (I like the Royal Family). Yes I d think so.

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