Какие они, эти британцы, на языке которых, мы так стремимся разговаривать?
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BRITISH CULTURAL TRAITS
The British favour individualism rather than group orientation. A modern trend of thought is, ‘If it feels good to me, I will do it’ – without consideration for others.
Britons like privacy
‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’. This old saying sums up a fairly widespread tendency. Much of daily life is carried on indoors with the door shut. Doubtless the climate has played a part in this! Probably ninety per cent of visits are pre-arranged, rather than just casually dropping in on friends. Some people, especially older ones, can be really disturbed by having unexpected visitors. However,
amongst close friends there is usually more freedom, and to some it can be an encouraging sign of acceptance to find that friends are happy to ‘drop in’ and visit on a casual basis. Certain information is thought of as private. This information is normally about personal details; e.g. older people would probably still not like being asked a direct question about their age. It is not acceptable to ask a childless couple why they have no children. People do not like to be asked how much money they earn.
Most Britons tend to be reserved until they get to know someone. They do not quickly share their deeper feelings. Many would disassociate themselves from loud extrovert types, especially in public. A general tendency is to think before making decisions rather than acting on impulse.
The British do not like boasting in any form. They prefer instead to denigrate themselves and their country. Healthy self-mockery and cynicism is highly regarded in British culture. Just consider Shakespeare’s humour.
However, take note: They will still be offended if you join in with the joking about
themselves or their country.
If you boast about your country, your academic achievements, or whatever, they will smile and nod politely but inwardly they will think you are a buffoon. The British prefer people who keep quiet about their praise points and laugh about their faults. If you must praise a Briton, make it heartfelt, true, and short.
Britons are fairly tolerant of the misuse of the English language. They seem to prefer hearing someone speak English badly, rather than making the effort to learn a foreign language themselves.
This is a virtue for most British people. People are expected to arrive on time, or early, for meetings. For parties however, it is quite acceptable to be thirty minutes late. Britons do not like to be asked to do something at the last minute unless it is a real emergency. They like to be organised and plan ahead, both in personal matters, and in the administration of their work/ministry. The queue is typically British, even if they borrow a French word to describe it. One is expected to queue in shops and for transport. Someone who ‘jumps’ a queue is engaging in uncivilised behaviour. Britons also prefer speedy, concise explanations of situations or requests.
Standards of living in Britain have increased considerably in recent years. Many people have ‘luxuries’ which they see as ‘necessities’. Young people expect to start married life with everything rather than gradually acquiring their household needs. Sometimes this leads to debts, which then have to be paid off in instalments. People are not used to ‘making do’ any more. Older Britons would probably tend to
live fairly carefully and simply and could be judgemental of others who are seen to be more extravagant.
The immediate family consists of mother, father and children. Many children move away from home around the age of eighteen. Newly married couples rarely live with their in-laws. Elderly parents either live alone for as long as they are able or enter a home for the aged. An adult child will oversee such an arrangement but does not feel an obligation to take the parent into his own home. Because of the country’s National Benefit Scheme, children are not financially responsible for their elderly parents.
In recent years there has been a marked change in family life. The divorce rate is high. There are many extra-marital relationships and many choose not to legally marry but rather live together as ‘partners’.
General tendencies are for insufficient parental discipline and family togetherness. Television has played a big part in the decline of family pursuits and most children watch many hours per week. The once common phrase, ‘Children are to be seen and not heard’ no longer applies. Children in some homes can dominate all that is taking place. Parents would not usually take kindly to other people disciplining their children if they were present themselves. Some would not be happy for others to
discipline their children even if they weren’t present. Physical punishment is much less applied than used to be the case.
Social space is important. A Briton would start to feel uncomfortable when standing face to face with someone at less than about a metre distant. (This would not apply in a crowded situation where closeness is unavoidable.) When travelling on public transport a Briton would normally only sit next to a stranger when no other seat is available.
A degree of resentment may be felt if well-meaning advice is offered without it being asked for, especially in the sensitive areas of family, husband/wife relationships, etc.