old English pub
If there is a place that you should not miss on a trip to England, it is the nearest local pub. Many people associate the British culture with regular visits to the pub – and rightly so. As Jed says in his blog The London Traveler, “you will never have a hope of understanding Britain unless you’ve spent at least a little time in the pub.” Well let me clue you in on what the English pub is all about.

Historically, the pub has always been the center of community life. Whether it was a city, a town, or a village, it was the same all over England – the pub was the place where people hung out. It was more than just drinking. It was a venue for friends and family to meet and interact with each other. It was a venue for business colleagues to meet and do business.

The term pub actually originates from the phrase “public house” and was coined during the Victorian era. Historians believe that it was the Romans who introduced the concept of the pub to England. The Roman tavernae, where local food and wine was served, is believed to be the ancestor of the modern day pub.

Today, pubs are not that much different in concept from the pubs of the olden days – people still gather at pubs. College friends visit their local pub to relax and chat. Yuppies go to their local pub to wind down after work. Business deals are still made in pubs.

In the next post, let’s look at some particularities of English pubs.

American British Flag
Here are several other points wherein British English and American English differ.

Possession
This is another area wherein there are marked differences between American and British English. You would normally hear an American say “I don’t have much time.” while an Briton would say “I haven’t got much time.” For the question form, Americans would ask “Do you have a minute?” while Britons would say “Have you got a minute?” Both forms are correct but different speakers would prefer different ways of showing possession.

Spelling
Perhaps one of the most obvious differences between written American and British English would be the spelling. Take these examples:

Color vs. colour
Recognize vs. recognize
Center vs. centre.

Which spelling is the right one? It depends – if you’re leaning towards British English then the second version is for you. The first version is American.

Vocabulary
Another very obvious difference between British and American English is in the choice of words. It is basically the same language but with different word usage. Here are some examples:

Apartment (Am.) – flat (Brit.)
Truck (Am.) – lorry (Brit.)
Elevator (Am.) – lift (Brit.)

These are only a few of the differences between the two varieties of the same language. Despite these differences, though, there really is no problem communicating with one another. There should be no debate as to who is right or wrong as both are right in their own way. The important thing is to be consistent as to which variety you are using. If you are more comfortable with British English then by all means speak it.

American British Flag
For quite a long time now, English has informally been considered as the official language of the world. There are many considerations before any language can be deemed the official means of communication for all countries, of course, and as such there has not been a formal declaration of this but for anyone who has had dealings with various countries worldwide, it is quite obvious that English is the main language by which you can communicate with other nationalities. Where did English come from? Why is it spoken so prevalently? The answers to these questions entail a long and arduous journey, which unfortunately cannot be covered in one blog post.

However, there is one aspect of the English language that we can take a look at today – the differences between American and British English. I cannot count the many times that I have heard quips about both “versions” of the language from Americans and British alike. Indeed, there are marked differences between the two varieties. However, who is to say that one is more correct than the other?

Here are some typical differences between American English and British English.

Use of the Present Perfect Tense
For those who are not familiar with their grammar tags, the present perfect is basically the form which makes use of has/have + past participle. An example would be: have eaten, have gone, and so on.

We could say that in British English, the use of this tense is “stricter” as opposed to American English. For example, the sentence “I already saw that movie.” would be accepted in American English but in British English, it should be “I have already seen that movie.” would be the proper way of saying it.

(to be continued)

Lord Nelson
Perhaps the most prevalent idea about the British is how cool and calm they are – the famous stiff upper lip attitude. For some, this attitude has negative connotations, but what is it really all about? I read this very interesting post about the British stiff upper lip that gave me a totally different perception about it.

According to UsingEnglish.com, stiff upper lip is an idiom which means “If you keep your emotions to yourself and don’t let others know how you feel when something bad happens, you keep a stiff upper lip.” Based on this alone, I do not think that it should be a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it is, in a way, showing one’s strength and ability to handle adversity.

I like what that blog post (what I mentioned in the first paragraph) had to say about this:


Is this because we’re unemotional and icy-hearted creatures? No, in fact it’s because we’re exactly the opposite. The British are sentimental, romantic, and softhearted to an absurd degree. We are hypersensitive to the suffering or joy of others to the extent that it’s actually unbearable. We’re also extremely polite and, consequently, don’t like to upset others by pouring our own emotions out for all to see. Also, we don’t like wasting time on the bleedin obvious.

Other cultures may prefer to pour out their hearts and emotions to the rest of the world but this does not mean that it is the “right” way. Seeing things in this perspective, it makes you think that maybe, keeping a stiff upper lip just might be better. What do you think?

botton villagers
What started out as a social experiment has caught the interest of people from all corners of the world. I am talking about Botton, a village located in the North Yorkshire Moors. So what makes this village so interesting?

It is home to about 300 people – most of whom have learning disabilities and other mental illnesses. The special quality of Botton is that it is a place that welcomes anyone who may be shunned by “normal” society. The people of Botton have set it in their minds – and indeed show it in their way of living – that any special quality or eccentricity is welcomed and tolerated within their community.

The set up in Botton is that those with special needs are dubbed the villagers while volunteers are called co-workers. The co-workers hail from all corners of the world, with the aim of helping those with special needs. The living arrangements are such as several villagers live together with a co-worker and the co-worker’s family. Daily life in Botton is very structured, with everyone having something specific to do.

The whole idea of the village is based on the philosophical teachings of Rudolf Steiner and they are strong advocates of communal living, which is basically their set up. Of course, there are some who are skeptical of this set up but people who have experienced Botton will be quick to debunk their skepticism. In fact, Botton seems to be quite a huge success as the waiting list for villagers is quite full as of this writing.

HECToR
The British have never been really known for their technology – this honor is usually attributed to the US and Japan. However, University of Edinburgh is set to make a name for itself and its country with the unveiling of HECToR, Britain’s fastest supercomputer to date.

What is HECToR all about? Well, it just has the power of 12,000 desktop personal computers and just might be able to help figure out some of greatest puzzles in the field of science. To get to the nitty gritty of what HECToR is capable of, think about this – 64 million calculations per second! How is that for power and speed? With this kind of power behind HECToR, scientists will be able to look at various phenomena and study subjects such as climate change. Other things that HECToR can be used for are studies on:

-medicine
-oceanography
-nanotechnology
-radar
-superconductors
-combustion engines
-new materials.

In fact, the possibilities seem limitless!

So just how big is HECToR? Imagine 60 cabinets the size of wardrobes – that’s where HECToR can be found as of the moment. As for the weight, HECToR weighs in at 113 million pounds.

To balance out all the hype, the fact is that HECToR is not the fastest and most powerful in the world. It is in fact one of the best in Europe but not the number one. Yet who cares? HECToR is proudly British made and is capable of wondrous things. He doesn’t have to be the best there is. The mere fact that we’ve come up with something like him is something to be proud of in itself.

Snooker

snooker
Snooker is one of the most popular sports in England today and has a long and colorful history. It is played by many countries around the world, in particular those who have had British influence in their history. It may sometimes be mistaken as being synonymous with the American billiards but there are marked differences – both in origins and game play.

Just like billiards, the game of snooker is considered to be a cue sport, making use of a table covered with baize. The sport is played using a cue (stick) and 15 red balls and 6 balls of an assortment of colours.

So where did snooker originate from? It is actually a relatively young game – it did not emerge till the late 19th century, when British officers stationed in India devised variations of the game billiards. Actually, the word snooker comes from the military slang which was used to dub inexperienced cadets. It was only in 1927 that snooker became popular, when Joe Davis organised the first World Snooker Championship.

Today, snooker has not gone far from its close relative, billiards. In fact, the governing bodies around the world are usually for both billiards and snooker. The main governing body for professionals is the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, which as founded in 1968. Back then, it was called Professional Billiard Players’ Association. The addition of snooker is a testament to the popularity and lasting value of the younger sport. Today, you can follow various sports events featuring snooker all throughout the UK and even China.

Jag

jaguar logo
Motor car enthusiasts look up to this brand with respect – and why not? Aside from its beauty and performance, it is one of the symbols of status with its price tag. The Jaguar was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley, two motorcycle enthusiasts. They named their company Swallow Sidecar Company. It was only in 1945 that the name Jaguar was taken on by the whole company.

Five years later, Jaguar had it made when a series of sports cars and saloons were released. These were as stylish and as elegant as can be. Since then, the company has had several mergers and is now considered a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. This is a quite interesting thing as what was originally purely British has become part of an American group. Despite this fact, however, the Jag remains as prestigious as it was way back when it began.

Jaguar has had several notable models, with the current ones being very much sought after by many car enthusiasts all over the world. The current models are:

Model US Type Price Range
XJ full-size luxury sedan $64,250 – $116,000
S-Type Executive luxury sedan $46,500 – $66,500
X-Type luxury entry level luxury sedan and wagon $33,500 – $37,500
XK sports car/Coupé/Convertible $75,500 – $93,000

As you can see, the price range of the different models is well into the luxury car range. Though it is not that rare to see a Jag on the streets of various cities worldwide, it is still not common to see one.

British Shorthair
Dog lovers may adore the English bulldog but there is nothing but a British Shorthair for cat lovers. This breed may very well be the oldest purebred cat from England. Another name for the British Shorthair is British Blue.

A very good characteristic of the British Shorthair is its temperament. It is rather quite reserved and not boisterous at all. As such, they are perfect pets for those who prefer calm animals and those who have children. Cats are known to be quite demanding on their owners. The British Shorthair, however, is not as demanding as other breeds but is just as affectionate. It offers the perfect companion to people who cannot spare much time and effort.

Though tagged as purely British, the British Shorthair may actually be descendants of cats from Ancient Rome. It became popular in Britain around the 1800s when the trend was to have cats as pets. In the 1980s, the British Shorthair was exported to the United States and shortly thereafter, became popular over there as well.

As compared to other cats, the British Shorthair is a relatively large cat. As the name implies, its fur is short and can come in any color. It can be describe as rotund in shape but not fat. In fact, it is known to be a strong cat – giving credence to its historical background as a good hunter. Another good thing about the British Shorthair is that it does not meow a lot, making for a good house cat.

The English Bulldog

English bulldog
Dog lovers all over the world cannot help but adore this breed. Today, there are many other breeds of bulldogs, with the American bulldog being one of the most popular. For many, this is THE bulldog that they know. Yet, actually, this type of bulldog originates from the English bulldog, a gentle and friendly animal.

Contrary to its physical appearance, the English bulldog is in fact one of the gentlest dogs there is. In fact, English bulldogs are very good pets for families with children as they get along quite well. As puppies, English bulldogs can be bundles of energy and a handful to handle. However, as they grow older, they tend to become calmer and easier to handle.

Where does the English bulldog originate from? Despite its name, this breed actually traces its roots all the way to Asia. In the old times, nomads brought their mastiffs to Britain. These mastiffs were ferocious and were perfect for fighting and holding down prey. When bull baiting became popular in Britain, a new breed was needed – thus the birth of the bulldog. After some time, this breed was cross bred with the pug, resulting in the English bulldog as we know it today.

One issue with English bulldogs is the fact that they tend to drool a lot. That is why they need to be located in a well ventilated area and they must not be exposed to too much exercise – a perfect pet for the sedentary person!