-7

This is a genuine question, asked in a spirit of enquiry. I don't want to start a row - simply to ask for people's thoughts.

Background

I and some other Brits on ELU have noticed that a minority of self-declared US English speakers appear not to value our variety of the language and, as a result not value our answers.

Examples

I was told by one user that he'd always thought Britain was some fictional place from Star-Trek.

Another said that Britain - the nation and its language - were of rapidly diminishing importance in the world. The implication was that my answer was therefore worthless,

I can't give you the links because I flagged these remarks and they were removed. I'm sure they are still on the system somewhere.

Edit - I've received other, milder, comments that give me the same impression.

Discussion

I could of course justify British English to these people, e.g.

  1. The English language actually originated in England and was later exported all over the world.

  2. Educated Americans are often familiar with the works of Milton, Shakespeare and Dickens as well as later writers such as, for example J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. All of those wrote in the language of the British Isles.

  3. Many students from Europe and Asia learn British English in school in preference to American English. I don't have precise statistics but in my home city - and many others, not even counting London - we have dozens of language schools with thousands of foreign students.

  4. My username clearly indicates my origins.

  5. When I answer, if I am aware of a difference, I indicate to the reader that they may wish to wait for US answers as well.

Question

Would people care to come forward and state their true feelings about this. Would you prefer this to a be a site for American English only?

This is a genuine question and I'm hoping for honest answers.

  • Is there any country other than USA that teaches Americanlish? – Johan Larsson Sep 19 '15 at 13:03
  • 1
    @JohanLarsson: I doubt it. British is still the standard, isn't it? We're busy founding a new school in Amsterdam, and I don't think anyone in our group would suggest we teach children American English. The standard language certificates people get here are from Cambridge. I'm fine with American English, but British has always been preferred. Holland is generally a forerunner in the adoption of English around Europe. Perhaps things will change if the American Empire clings to its dominant position for a bit longer, but I think it's too late. – Cerberus Sep 19 '15 at 13:07
  • 1
    @JohanLarsson - Your comment/rhetorical question is too oblique for me! Please could you elaborate? – chasly from UK Sep 19 '15 at 13:11
  • @chaslyfromUK: I presume he means a country where schools teach children American English by default. Perhaps such countries exist, but I've never heard of any. – Cerberus Sep 19 '15 at 13:12
  • 6
    N.B.: The English didn't "invent" English. They simply communicated in the language of their community, and the language changed as it would. Invention implies a deliberate act, not the somewhat random progress that actually occurred. – Robusto Sep 19 '15 at 13:25
  • 1
    @Cerberus in some places it just depends on the nationality of the teacher. I had to sit through English as a foreign language classes as a child and we had English, American and Australian teachers at different points. – terdon Sep 19 '15 at 13:29
  • 2
    @chaslyfromUK: By focusing on primacy you're trying to draw attention away from the fact that invention is still a deliberate process. I maintain that nobody in England who helped shape the language did so as a conscious effort to construct a means of communication. Therefore, invent is still a poor word choice at best, and at worst may be an attempt to take credit for something for which no real credit is due. – Robusto Sep 19 '15 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Robusto - In deference to your comment, I have now removed my reference to 'invention'. I applaud the Americans for making English the lingua franca of the world through their influence in science and the media particularly. I having started using your more sensible spelling myself in some instances (e.g. I now use 'program' instead of 'programme'). However I think it is fair to point out to critics that modern English had its beginnings in England. Some of those people aren't even aware of that despite the apparent obviousness of the fact. – chasly from UK Sep 19 '15 at 14:29
  • 2
    @chaslyfromUK: I for one cherish British English, as may be noted in comments I've made on ELU and in chat. Both AmE and BrE have their flaws, but that's true of any language or dialect. And as for those who would disparage either as being inferior to the other, that's just ridiculous, and I can respond to that only with honi soit qui mal y pense. – Robusto Sep 19 '15 at 14:41
  • 3
    I'm vaguely aware that some questions/comments assume the primacy of American English (or rather that when you say English it is whatever is spoken in the US). But I'm also vaguely aware of similar questions/comments with respect to British English. We're all the main characters in our own movies. – Mitch Sep 19 '15 at 15:30
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA Funny, I actually thought about addressing that very question in my earlier comment! The short answer is no, we do not. We're vaguely aware that people from other Anglophone countries sometimes use Yank as a derogatory reference, but for the most part is just seems quaint to us. Like "boot" or "loo" or "lorry". PS: The Union Jack in Chasly's avatar does not get under my skin, personally. – Dan Bron Sep 19 '15 at 16:18
  • 1
    @DanBron my Scottish friends identify as British, yes. As for Brit, I haven't had any complaints and I was using it regularly during the 4 years I spent in the UK. I've also seen it used by the BBC and the British Grammys are called The Brit Awards so yeah, I think you're pretty safe. – terdon Sep 19 '15 at 17:13
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA: As I have stated elsewhere, Yank and Yankee are not inherently negative, but it depends on who says them and how they are said. – Robusto Sep 19 '15 at 18:41
  • 3
    Please remove that "example". You have found someone of such staggering ignorance that they i) don't know the language of England; ii) believe Edinburgh is in England; iii) can't spell ancestral ; end questions with full stops and non-questions with question marks. That's hardly someone who's likely to hang out on a site for language enthusiasts, so this can't serve as an example of anything except extreme ignorance. – terdon Sep 19 '15 at 23:44
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA and chasly, please remember that votes on meta are very different. First of all, they carry no reputation penalty and, secondly, are used to i) express disagreement and ii) declare a question not useful. Explaining downvotes on meta really doesn't make much sense. The people who downvoted either don't see any point to this question ("this question is not useful") or are using their downvotes as an answer: "no, BrE is not unwelcome here". – terdon Sep 23 '15 at 14:32
17

As you yourself point out, the offending comments were removed when you flagged them. Your question, therefore, reads like "Some unpleasant people acted like idiots and the mods stepped in and put things right". I don't see how you go from a couple of idiots to "ELU doesn't like BrE".

That said, remember that at least three of our mods are actually British. As are quite a few of our top-rep members. We also have 1043 questions tagged with .

So, no, of course BrE is not unwelcome here. Quite the contrary.

  • Thanks for your comment and reassurance. I appreciate it. However at no point did I make the generalisation that you are imputing to me. I very carefully formulated my question to ask if a minority of people thought us unwelcome. I am genuinely hoping that such people will make themselves known and justify their position. Maybe it is a forlorn hope. – chasly from UK Sep 19 '15 at 14:04
  • 4
    @chaslyfromUK you can't be expecting bigots and idiots to come out and say so. This is not the official stance of the community nor is it the stance of the majority. I've seen idiotic comments impugning upon both British and American English and in about the same amounts. There's not much else to be said. – terdon Sep 19 '15 at 14:06
  • I'll admit to a hidden agenda. Some people don't learn and do this repeatedly. In future I plan to direct such people here and ask them to contribute their opinion. – chasly from UK Sep 19 '15 at 14:15
  • 9
    @chaslyfromUK may I suggest you just ignore them instead? We're talking about a tiny minority who, by definition, are very unlikely to be open to argument. Just flag and move on. – terdon Sep 19 '15 at 14:17
  • 6
    @chaslyfromUK - It seems a disrespectful use of meta to post a question with the intention of using it for your personal reference to the occasional slight. If everyone did this for every encountered slight, meta would be poor reading indeed. – anongoodnurse Sep 19 '15 at 17:00
  • @medica - The hidden agenda I referred to was an afterthought. I'm afraid that I go through life like that, starting with a simple idea and then elaborating - sometimes indefinitely. I had no intention of using this question as a personal noticeboard. Rather, as I said, the idea was simply to point people in this direction and invite them to read and/or comment. If they do comment and that makes for dull reading then so be it. I imagine, as terdon has said, that such people are unlikely to contribute. As far as I know simply reading a question doesn't bring it to the top of the queue. (?) – chasly from UK Sep 19 '15 at 18:05
  • 1
    @chaslyfromUK - My comment was, "If everyone did this for every encountered slight, meta would be poor reading indeed." I agree with most of the others here: walk away. Disengage. Ignore them. Forget it. Do we really need meta reference questions for our personal peeves? – anongoodnurse Sep 20 '15 at 15:24
  • @medica - If it was just about me then I'd agree with you. However, it's a wider issue. As I said earlier, I'm aware of others who have noticed the effect. Compared with prejudice about gender or race, it's an insignificant matter, but on this site I am part of a minority and I'm proud of my language heritage. I prefer to tackle an issue rather than simply to 'forget it'. Now that I've posed the question and received positive and encouraging answers, I feel greatly reassured. I hope that the same will be true for other people who use different varieties of English if they happen to find this – chasly from UK Sep 20 '15 at 16:22
7

Just put it out of your mind. Their perspectives will gradually adjust.

Some Americans confuse xenophobia for patriotism (which is supposedly healthy), as do nationals of many countries, especially folks with more idealism than real-life experience. Chauvinism is always difficult to defuse constructively, to be sure, but however you prefer to approach that general sort of behavior should be appropriate. Flag and move along.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .