English to English, Manners

I found a new blog, run by a group of Guardian-US people and Guardian-Guardian people, which is about the differences in English on different sides of the atlantic. I found a lot of their posts interesting for a few reasons, one being that it seems that Canada is more on the fence than I thought – I had figured we’d be essentially american in language use. There are also interesting hints of cultural differences in there, like this post on manners:


It basically characterizes Americans as

An american trying to figure out the best way to get food to his mouth

and this:

I don’t actually do this, I’m the freak who eats chicken legs/ribs with a knife and fork. I absolutely hate grease on my fingers.

[I’m also going to interject that I eat pizza with a knife and fork when given the chance, and it is not polite-looking – I do it because I hate pizza sauce (one of these days I’m ordering a sauceless pizza) enough to perform surgery on pizza in order to remove as much sauce as possible. I also used to perform multiple blueberry-ectomies on blueberry muffins, but I’m gradually getting over the blueberries, so I can do the whole thing with just a knife now. I really prefer eating muffins with a knife and fork though, wow I’m weird. ]

and British people as this:

English kids, trying their best to lull you into a false sense of security, they’re CLEARLY evil, look at all those evil little faces

There’s some obvious bias here, the entire thing is written by Guardian people, and I’m betting most of the US writers are either expats or anglophiles, so they’re going to find the nastiest US pictures they can lay their fryer-greasy fingers on, and include the most improbably polite-looking british pictures they can find. I can’t really tell how true this is. Though that american guy looks better at eating than I am, I am the worst. Funny story, I once was eating lunch with a knight, and it was all I could do not to get those damned peas and scalloped potatoes and the ham all over myself…

But I’m not typical for Canada, I am remarkably awful.

They were also saying that American kids will say things like “Nah, I’m stuffed”, or “sure” when asked if they want more food, whereas apparently English kids say “yes please” and “no thank you”. This does complicate my worldview somewhat, as I was led to believe that British children are horrible, horrible evil little fiends** who dish out the sort of mayhem and rudeness that North American kids only see on TV. Then again, I’m rather biased.

I’m inclined to not take this entire thing seriously – I’ll go “nah, I’m stuffed” when I’m stuffed and I’m with my own family/friends, but if we’re having my overly-prim extended family for dinner, or worse, eating at their house, yeah, I’ll try my best to remember how manners work. My table manners are overall atrocious, though, so I always get the stink-eye from my mother, at least…

**though I will say there is nothing like an English kid saying “stupid”, it cracks me up every time

Edit: I’m looking at the picture of the English kids again, and while doubtless they are trying to look as nice as possible (that’s how evil they are), going by the posture of their hands, lack of elbows on the table while eating, and the fact that their food is actually on their plates and not the table, the floor, or themselves, they’re using their cutlery, the plates actually look breakable, and none of the elements in the picture suggests that there is an income disparity between people featured – I may have to concede that they give the appearance of being more civilized than their Canadian public-school counterparts in terms of table manners.


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