02 January 2010

Americans, a British take

Now that we have looked at how English sounds to Italians, let's look at how Americans seem to the English.

Not so bad, actually. We are polite, friendly, and charming without seeming to be. At least if you believe Geoff Dyer in the book review section of the NY Times. Here's one of his observations about how Americans seem to be LOUD:
Granted, these visiting Americans often seem to have loud voices, but on closer examination, it’s a little subtler than that. Americans have no fear of being overheard. Civic life in Britain is predicated on the idea that everyone just about conceals his loathing of everyone else. To open your mouth is to risk offending someone. So we mutter and mumble as if surrounded by informers or, more exactly, as if they are living in our heads. In America the right to free speech is exercised freely and cordially. The basic assumption is that nothing you say will offend anyone else because, deep down, everyone is agreed on the premise that America is better than anyplace else. No such belief animates British life. On the contrary. A couple of years ago a survey indicated that British Muslims were the most fed-up of any in Europe: a sign, paradoxically, of profound assimilation.

Having been to England a couple of times I admit I see his point. So I will dedicate this post to my friend, English Will, who will not become an American citizen even after having lived here 20 years.

He says it's so he won't have to vote for the clowns we nominate in presidential races.



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