5 Ways for Brits to Accidentally Offend Americans

(GAB)

You may have to mind the chat in mixed company. (GAB)

A pleasant side effect of coming to the U.S. is that you will meet and befriend lots of Americans. In general, they handle exactly like other people but their offense cues are, I’ve noticed, subtly different. You may risk coming over as rude if you engage in any of the following behavior.

1. Heavy swearing
It takes little provocation for a Brit to curse profusely and at volume. Sometimes, we mean it with malice so the recipient is right to take it to heart. Other times, though, it’s a more of a reflex response. Or, it could be meant with deep and sincere affection. It’s hard for an outsider to gauge where we’re coming from with this. Americans are generally more sensitive to profanities, so keep it in check, especially around children who aren’t yours.

2. Scoffing at patriotism
If an American makes a point of telling you how they’re not at all into all that flag-waving, pledging allegiance stuff, then you’re probably not going to upset them by admitting that you find it creepy that every other house on your street flies the Star-Spangled Banner. But if you haven’t had that particular talk, then assume you’re not on safe ground.

3. Making light of sentimental moments
As previously mentioned in many a Mind The Gap post, Americans are a bit gushy. They over-share and cry in front of their friends, and this makes us profoundly uncomfortable. In these awkward moments you’ll be tempted to channel a Victorian era governess and tell your friend to look lively, buck up and possibly even be seen and not heard. This probably isn’t the best way to handle things if you’d like to hold onto the friendship. Making a risqué joke is an equally poor comforting choice.

4. Toilet talk
Contrary to popular opinion, Americans will not burst into flames or shun you should you accidentally ask where the toilet is instead of the “bathroom.” But, they are a bit more prudish than Brits, and not primed to appreciate your candid description of that epic colonic irrigation session your friends got you for your birthday.

5. Talking about religion or politics
Keeping the conversation polite in America means avoiding these topics. Back home, where political divides are less extreme and society is on the whole more secular, you need to tread less lightly.

What are some touchy topics for conversation in America? Tell us below:

See also:
10 Things That Americans Don’t Realize are Offensive to Brits
10 Things That Brits Don’t Realize Are Offensive to Americans

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis
  • dw

    Americans are a bit gushy. They over-share and cry in front of their friends, and this makes us profoundly uncomfortable

    It makes some of us expats feel liberated.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      When I lived in England I felt emotionally constipated as well. It is a relief to feel free to “unload” without fear of judgement.

  • maggie

    I hear plenty of profanities here from Americans especially from some of the men and some women at the dog park.. Though a couple of men have started to tone it down when I’m around :)

    When in Saudi during and after the first Gulf War I was embarrassed to be a western female. The language from the female soldiers was worse than many of the men and that was in public especially in the grocery stores. I guess they figured the people who worked in the stores and the Saudi shoppers did not understand English. Boy were they wrong!

  • http://expatmum.blogspot.com/ Expat Mum

    Even though I’m an American citizen and have lived here for 23 years, I find that if I voice any criticism at all of the USA, it’s not OK. In print, I am often told to “go home” or the UK is brought into the conversation when I haven’t even mentioned the UK. Not every criticism of this country means that a) your original country is better, or b) that you hate the USA.

    • KT

      The knee-jerk defensiveness and jingoism here in recent years are troubling, to say the least. I personally enjoy talking to expats who’ve settled in the area, and friends outside the U.S. I’ve met in my travels. It’s an opportunity to share and develop a broader perspective, and is a potentially/ideally positive exchange, but unfortunately is not always viewed that way here.

    • Nerdy Mum

      I’m American and I constantly criticize my own country. What frustrates me about (some) other Americans is their fierce belief that America is the greatest country in the world when there is much evidence to the contrary.

      • SuperCritic

        Well we did invent freedom after all. That and eagles.

        • Nerdy Mum

          and silly putty…

        • Timothy Wright Art

          and god loves USA best. It is in Corinthians 5 or Timothy 6 or something.

      • Machisen

        We even have “American Exceptionalism” as a plank in the Republican platform.

        • Timothy Wright Art

          Yet the Republicans block Buy American restrictions and they despise labor. Republicans think American CEOs are Exceptional (while squirreling their money overseas) but little else. One senator (Mark Kirk) even went to China and told them not to trust/believe the USA. Amazing!

          • Tiffany Souza

            Please remember, it is not only the Republicans who are hurting us, but the Democrats too. No one is without fault in this mess we’ve made for ourselves here.

      • Sara E. James

        Because it is the greatest country in the world, despite its flaws.

        • Tiffany Souza

          That’s just silly. If we’re so great, why are we practically owned by the Chinese at this point? We were great. We can be great again. But right now, claiming to be great when we are clearly not is just a cop-out so we don’t have to buckle down and fix our problems. The more people who spout this nonsense, the longer it will take to fix our problems and become great again.

      • Trulahn

        True patriotism is to point out the faults of your country so that it can be improved upon. Blindly proclaiming that the US is the greatest nation in the world when most of those people had never set a foot outside of their county let alone their state is just crazy talk from the ignorant.

    • SuperCritic

      I’m a full-blooded American and I still get weird looks when I try to criticize the country.

    • gmu1993

      BS – it depends what youre criticizing and to whom. A lib wont like a cons criticisms and vice versa. And for all the non-Americans cimmenting i call double BS. youre just as likely to get touchy if someone criticizes your country.

      • http://expatmum.blogspot.com/ Expat Mum

        Thanks for illustrating the point and a knee jerk reaction. No one mentioned the UK (or any country other than the US). Of course most nationalities would react the same way but we’re talking about the US, as the title says.

        • bigfatcrimsonpanda

          I disagree, being from Ireland, a place which comes under constant criticism for our debt etc and backwards politics, I personally find myself agreeing almost always with the other person I love where I am from but for its natural beauty and culture not everything… American patriotism seems to run a little too deep at times. Not everything is ever perfect in a country and accepting everything your government does based on a ‘love of country’ just seems so wrong to me. However I am not criticising I recognise this is a select few and not necessarily a majority and mean no offence.

          • frozen01

            Most of the time, showing a “love of country” has nothing to do with what the government is doing at the time. If it’s fighting a war (especially one started by the guy you voted for), then yes, the flags go aflying… but pretty much everything else is either ignored or opposed without any consideration towards one’s patriotism. In fact, if a person disagrees with a political position, they’re more likely to say that it’s an attack ON their beloved homeland, instead. They’ll just say that the side they agree with is in the TRUE spirit of what this country was founded upon. and those who agree with the other side are “destroying” it.
            But you’re right. We should be able to criticize our country and still love it, and American-style patriotism is a sort of messed up thing. We have this strange way of completely disconnecting what our country DOES with what our country IS.

          • Tiffany Souza

            It sucks. Those of us who understand that get shut down in conversation for being “terrorists”.

      • frozen01

        You’re joking, right? Most times I’ve seen, if your criticism of the UK is well-informed, you’re more likely to get a nod of agreement than an angry scowl.

        • Tiffany Souza

          *sigh* We could really learn a thing or two from you Brits eh?

    • Tiffany Souza

      God I hate that. I think part of our problem is refusing to criticize where criticism is due.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    I should so be British… sigh…

  • Elaine

    Don’t ever call a Southerner a Yankee, which is actually pronounced Damnyankee.

    • Amanda Huggins

      Please take this one to heart! We get our panties in a wad over that one.

      • Trulahn

        You mean knickers in a twist.

        • Amanda Huggins

          Lol! Exactly!

    • Anita Winters

      OMG…yes DO NOT EVER call me a Yankee! *shudders* We Southerners are much nicer and smarter! :)

      • bob

        silly confederates

      • Steve

        Crazy Reb

      • SeaLaughing

        Then why did your side lose the war? Why did you keep slaves in the first place? Actually, when I lived down south, I found that Southerners were massive bigots, both toward women & blacks. Since it’s been proven that bigotry is linked to low I.Q.s, I don’t think your claim of being ‘smarter’ has much merit!

        • micah

          I dont remember fighting in the civil war. Or owning slaves for that matter. Must be that low IQ you mentioned.

      • leiladevereaux

        Funny, seems like all the education markers and things like CNN’s Smartest States (http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/smallbusiness/1102/gallery.smartest_states/) overwhelmingly favor the north. I’ll give nicer to southerners but not smarter. Never smarter.

      • Trulahn

        I am a Californian. We are neither North nor South. But when I look at a map of the distribution of poverty, lack of religious diversity, lower levels of education, higher level of racism, and higher level of GOP support in this country, it almost perfectly overlap the former Confederate states. Coincidence or correlation? You decide.

      • Tiffany Souza

        Well that’s just rude. If you’re so nice, why insult others?

    • hotgeek88

      hahaha! I personally would understand the reference if a Brit called me a Yankee, but since most of the South wouldn’t understand, yes, this is a big one. That whole profanity thing listed above would disappear entirely if you ever called my dad that. For reference, the South includes Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. You’ll also find that this phenomenon is isolated predominately to the Caucasian population of the region. The civil war may have ended eons ago, but the confederate terminology still ruffles feathers today. Sad but true. It’s also in this region that you’ll get in the most trouble talking religion. As an atheist in TN, I avoid the topic as often as possible and still manage to upset people by declining their invitations to attend church with them.

      • maggie

        I thought it was the War Between the States. My husband refuses to call it the Civil War. He is a Southern boy

        • Brimstone

          ‘Twas the War of Northern Aggression, Madame….

          • hotgeek88

            I’ve heard it referred to as both of the above, but as a History major, I use the “correct” name. ;) Officially, it was the “Civil War” (when speaking to an American historian) and the “United States Civil War” (when speaking to historians of a more broad discipline).

          • maggie

            My husband, from Alabama, said he has also heard it called the War for States Rights as well as Northern Aggression but for him the term he prefers is War Between the States.

          • Anna Wills

            My family from Virginia, who lost everything in the war, call it The War of Northern Aggression. Actually, we are from Virginia and the generational Virginians call it The War of Northern Aggression. Depends on how far ones family roots go back in the south. My family started with the Jamestowm colony. Many transplant Southerners are more indifferent to the war and more willing to go with the conventional names for the war. There are occasionally regional names for the war as well.

          • maggie

            My husband’s family are from WV/South Carolina.

          • Rhonda Shafer Dougherty

            I’m a born and bred northerner (Pennsylvania) and am a word-person. I call it The Civil War…I think Southerners call it by other names because there is a still-stung culture down south (many southerners are very proud of being southern and call us northerners, Yankees – as do Brits, but for different reasons) – I suppose Freeing Slaves is considered Northern Aggression. so be it. The north and the south are like siblings. Okay if we call each other names and stick out our tongues, but let someone from another country pick on us and suddenly we’re All Americans – don’t tread on me! Lol!

          • Angie Poole

            Freeing slaves became a bigger issue after the war was already started. Slavery was a political issue, for sure, but the rights of individuals states was the real question, something we’ve lost sight of since the Federal government is much stronger than it was back then. Emancipation was a good thing that came sooner than it might have otherwise because of the war.

          • Amanda Huggins

            Lol

        • shazzer

          In our vicinity, the war is sometimes referred to as The Late Unpleasantness. I live in Lexington, KY — a city that could never make up its mind about whether it sided with the north or the south.

      • Tricia

        And Brits (and other Europeans for that matter) don’t seem to understand the huge cultural significance of the Civil War/ War Between the States here and the repercussions especially with race relations or even why we have the issues with race that we have. More diversity plus a much more sorted past with slavery and interment camps and such.

    • Timothy Wright Art

      Better yet, Dear Brits, AVOID THE SOUTH at all costs! Unlike you all, who have picked up and carried on after losing the Revolutionary War, these folks still get the vapors and head for the fainting couch on the veranda over losing their “right” to own people. Southerners are the ultimate sore losers. Don’t get ‘em started on having an African-American President. My heavens! I declare! Fiddle-de-dee!

      • MrsSpooky

        LOL, nobody listen to him, it’s pure BS. Southerners DO tend to get touchy about being called yankees. And people ARE nicer down here. :)

        • Trulahn

          Nicer as long as you aren’t a colored person.

          • MrsSpooky

            I’ve lived both up north and in the south. I saw more bigotry up north than I do here. There are idiots everywhere and the south doesn’t have any kind of monopoly on that. Not by a long shot. This isn’t 1962.

          • frozen01

            I agree and disagree with this. I’ve lived in Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and now Illinois. I saw some shockingly outright, but very isolated, incidents of racism in Alabama, but I also saw subtler, though far more widespread, racism while in Wisconsin.
            And people are generally nicer in the South, but they do get less so when you get them outside their comfort zone. People in the North avoid all that by just not talking to each other.

            Also, to the OP, as a born-and-bred Southerner, I have never actually met anyone in real life who was still upset about the Civil War. Not one, and not even a little.

      • Rhonda Shafer Dougherty

        I hate to stereotype and certainly not all southerners are like that – but as a northerner who doesn’t give a rip, I’m always amazed by how much “southern aggression” remains from a war fought/won 150 years ago!

      • creator xb

        erm the winners of the revolutionary war were british colonists and the french military. i believe america and americans were yet to exist at this point lol

        • Tiffany Souza

          THANK YOU!

      • Tiffany Souza

        Racism is everywhere. I have a dear friend in Georgia who thinks racism is insane and have met people here in California who are racist. Is your rude comment against Southerners any better? You’re claiming all Southerners are racist bigots, which really seems much like the pot calling the kettle black.

    • evilplatypus

      You have to be careful in the north who you call a Yankee as well. I know it has nothing to do with sports, but I know more than a few Massholes, Rhode Islanders, and Hampsherites that would consider them fighting words!

    • MrsSpooky

      You beat me to it. I HATE being called a yankee.

  • dave_f_jones

    I’ve lived here for 12 years and been a Naturalized Citizen for 7 of ‘em. Funniest time was when I had to take an “English test”, during my Citizenship application. C’mon now …. I’ve been English for most of my life and still had to take the test …. Seriously ???. In place s where I’ve worked, since being here, people are afraid to speak up for their rights (especially when working in factories) they don’t seem to want to “rock the boat”. Well ….. havin’ been a Brit, for so long, I’m only too happy to speak up, whether I “rock the boat”, or not. I now fingd most things about Americans “acceptable”, having “assimilated” into American life as a US Citizen, but, whenever I hear anyone criticize America (especially other Ex-pates/foreigners) then Americans “turn” on the such perpetrators of such criticism, but, when the “boot is on the other foot” and Americans criticize other countries (Ex-pats/foreigners) we are expected to just “take it as a joke”. I’ve learned that a good “response” to such “jokes”, is to remind them of their lack of history (number of military engagements, when they’ve been “on their own”, as compared to the battles WON by British forces, during Britain’s long and esteemed history) Other than these things, I find living in the US very interesting and “stimulating”. I even have friends that can match me intellectually and who’s knwoledge of history and world affairs is “on a par” with my own, which is really refreshing.

    • Sara

      Mr Jones,
      How do you suggest Americans overcome their lack of history? A country, through no fault of its own, cannot be older than it is.

      • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

        Well said!

    • Anon

      Hey, buddy, do you by any chance know of hetalia?

    • Tricia

      Just “wondering” if part of the “Gap” is the “use” of quotation marks for “no particular reason”?

    • Scot Lundy

      a) you’re going to find irrational patriotism in any country…we sit through our responses too
      b) yeah, we got smart people to

  • Brittany

    I’m American and I scoff at patriotism.

    • http://twitter.com/lolajl Lola Lee Beno

      I’m American and seeing patriotism makes me very teary.

      • SeaLaughing

        Not me. I’ve noticed that most of the enthusiastic flag wavers are the first to stomp on the rights of others. Now, whenever I see someone wearing a flag on their lapel, I instantly think “Self-righteous hypocrite.” Patriotism is just the latest trend in meaningless lip service.

        • frozen01

          Sadly, I agree. You just know it’s done more for their own self-image than an actual love of their country or any of its ideals. I kind of feel the same way whenever I see shallow displays towards veterans. We basically pat ourselves on the back as “good patriots” for giving one or two veterans a standing ovation at the last football game, yet ignore how many of them are homeless *sighs*

          I believe the feeling is somewhat the same in the UK over politicians and others wearing poppies.

  • frozen01

    Funny. My London friends always seem really sensitive whenever I swear, and my Lancastrian fiance is far more prudish about “toilet talk” than I am. Even something as clinical as listing constipation as an experienced symptom made him stiffen up and tell me “that’s not really something to share” *lol*

    • http://expatmum.blogspot.com/ Expat Mum

      Ha ha ha ha. You’re right, but so is the author. I find that what is acceptable “potty talk” here in the USA is different from what’s OK in the UK. American swearing always sound so much mor course, perhaps because of the accent but also because some of the words are almost unbelievable. Mother — is one I”m thinking of. In my experience I think upstanding Brits swear more readily than their American counterparts but the swear words aren’t as offensive.
      And yes, constipation would make one stiffen (love the pun), but I don’t think I would like it on this side of the Pond (USA) either.

      • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

        When I first met my Scottish-ex, I had never heard anyone use F*** as much as he did. It was easily in every other sentence. Come to think of it I don’t think I’ve met anyone since him who uses it more. Twenty-five years later it’s used here (U.S.) all the time but Brits can still make our toes curl by dropping the c-word.

    • Pat Weiser

      I found that to be true as well when I visited friends in England this summer.

  • Alice Teeple

    God, according to these rules, I shouldn’t be American, myself! I’m guilty of all of that!

  • steve

    As a brit married to an american i agree with all of the above.

  • Liz

    In my opinion, flying the flag really became popular after 9/11. Americans will also put flags out at specific times of the year (e.g., Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and of course Independence Day). Finally, I would say that more U.S. flags are flown in certain parts of the country.

    • LMJ

      I think that’s very dependent on where you are. Did flying the flag become more popular after 9/11? Sure. Most of those people stopped after a while.

      Those holidays excepted, I don’t think there are significantly more people flying flags now than, say, 13 years ago. At least, not where I’ve been.

  • PinkZiab

    Heavy swearing won’t upset us in the least in New Jersey.

  • ruby

    How is an American over-sharing different from a Brit’s candid description of that epic colonic irrigation session?

    • bbdrvr

      The difference is emotional content. Brits (well, the English, at least) still like to “keep a stiff upper lip” and all that.

      • Steve

        Except, apparently, about visits to the bathroom.

        • http://expatmum.blogspot.com/ Expat Mum

          Exactly. In most cases bowel movements do not include emotion.

  • Darcy

    It looks like I’m not American anymore! None of these offend me.

  • heatherjoyw

    I’ve spent my entire life living in areas that are fairly secular and none of these things have been a problem , I just moved to a “red ” state and I’m really worried about when people figure out that I’m secular in nature.Also I use profanity a lot but never in front of my kids, and as for talking about politics i’m all for a political discussion a long as you have an educated opinion and you don’t just think that so and so is stupid … All the flag waving is creepy… really creepy i think its a mid west and south thing, I’ve never really experienced it except on the 4th of July and right after 9/11.

    • http://twitter.com/lolajl Lola Lee Beno

      I really hope that these folks don’t think you’re sneering at them. That kind of gets folks in the “red” states a bit upset.

      • heatherjoyw

        me too, I’ve been very nice and extremely quiet about my political views, one of my neighbors made fun of my Prius in a not so friendly way, so I wasn’t nice about her big truck , but apart from that everyone has been lovely!

    • Annie Buck

      You are bothered by An American displaying an American flag?

      • heatherjoyw

        The displaying of the flag isn’t creepy in it’self, it’s the lack of political and historical knowledge behind the gesture, and the assumption that one is unamerican because they don’t share the same enthusiasm. It’s the same reason I avoid organized religion, people tend to hide behind imagery and ideology that they don’t understand and often times would deface to make a point.

        • Jack

          How are you able to ascertain one’s political and historical knowledge just by the gesture of flying the American flag?

          • heatherjoyw

            I’m not, however I do find extreme , blind patriotism to be disturbing. The type of people who feel the need to fly a flag year round tend to be the type of people who are blindly patriotic, which can be dangerous. there is nothing wrong with celebrating independence or veterans day, with a flag.

          • Jack

            But, you are. You see somebody flying an American flag and you assume they’re blind patriots and judge them to be wrong. You don’t even know who they are, you never met them and you make a snap rash judgement about the person. That’s downright bigotry. Flying an American flag does not make you a blind patriotic or dangerous.

          • heatherjoyw

            I don’t think that it does.. but your strong dislike of my opinion makes me think that you are. It’s perfectly fine to fly flag I don’t dislike people who fly flags I just don’t particularly trust people who fly flags and wear flags and put little tiny pieces of Americana all over their houses It seems a little over zealous to me. Now I’m done defending my opinion. because it is mine and I have every right to it , just like you have every right to your differing opinion. As much as I don’t know who these excessive flag flyers are you don’t know who I am … you don’t know what I do what I’ve voted for or why I feel the way that I feel, but for whatever reason you feel that my opinion is worth trolling just because it differs from yours.

          • Jack

            My dislike of your opinion stems from your bigotry. When I see people getting attacked for innocent things like flying an American flag, I attack those opinions and refute them. You have every right to your bigoted opinions and to express your bigotry. I also, have the right to attack your opinions by expressing my own. The only thing I responded to was the words you expressed on this forum. I never assumed anything else about you. I never brought up what you do or who you voted for. I have clue why you brought that up. Also, I am not trolling you, I am refuting opinions I believe to be bigoted. Bye bye, little bigot, I’m sorry you can’t defend your opinions.

          • heatherjoyw

            You’re free to call me a bigot if that makes you feel bigger, Also pointing out that you’re not a troll proves that you’re aware you’re a troll.enjoy your holiday season, and just cause I know it will bug you,( i can troll too) I was that kid in high school who refused to say the pledge because I refuse to pledge my soul to corporations and a god I don’t believe in not because I don’t believe that at one point in time this was a great nation.

  • Fred Ortiz

    How to offend an American: be an American

  • Eléna Davis

    I think while this may apply to the elder generations, most of these aren’t particularly offensive to most Americans.
    As an American, reading this…it seemed a little silly that these were classified as offensive.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      I agree with you – younger generations aren’t as easily offended over these things.

  • Felicia Crabb

    1st multiple post eluding that I may not be a woman but a man, now this basically saying Im not an American. If I were more American like I might be offended.

    • Violette Retancourt

      I’ve got a pretty filthy mouth myself and I still think my countrymen & women need to tone it down in public. Seeing other people running around dropping F bombs every 3rd word really demonstrated to me how trashy it sounds and changed the way I speak when out and about.

      • bob

        it makes me angry angry and i get easy annoyed by cursing. this what i heard in a store where a man was on the phone. F*** you this doesn’t F**** fit you said this world F**** fit this went on for about 3min. it drives me insane becuase hes sounding like child that doesn’t know any words

  • Jeoffrey Bristow

    How about tipping the server more than 10% . or just learned to tip period.

  • Violette Retancourt

    I call BS on each and every one of these.

  • EGracie

    It is SO not OK to refer to an American woman as a “cow,” no matter how fondly.

  • Kristin Steele

    wow, sounds like I would fit right in across the pond! i was born in the wrong country!

  • bob

    Warning if you talk religion or politics be prepared

  • Jjack

    I find these all to be pretty much bullshit. When it comes to the second one, I’m a little confused. I do see a lot of Brits that proudly display the Union Jack. Maybe some Brits just have certain insecurities when it comes to their own country. Americans who throw around words like jingoistic are just annoying hipsters who don’t find it cool to like their own country.

    • Jenny

      There is a difference between “patriotism” and “nationalism” or “jingoism.” Please learn it.

      • Jack

        I know it very well, I’ve studied European history.

      • frozen01

        Thank you, well said.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      When I’m in the UK I see a lot of Union Flags flying as well. I think the flag thing is exaggerated.

      • Jack

        There also can be a very simple explanation for this as well. It’s the same reason why my Christmas lights are still up after March.

    • frozen01

      It is possible to 100% love your country and still find someone else’s patriotism to be over-the-top and jingoistic. I’ve used that word before (when talking about a certain Toby Keith song, if you want to know), and I have no problems with finding it cool to like your own country. It’s just that there are people who take it to a crazy level that is more akin to how one feels about a football team, not the land in which they were born.

  • Miles Quatermass

    The last one is interesting, because when I came to America people told me exactly that – NEVER discuss politics or religion. Then, when I arrived in Texas, people were falling over themselves to tell me how awesome George W. Bush and Jesus are.
    Needless to say, I don’t live in Texas anymore.

    • http://www.smittenbybritain.com/ SmittenbyBritain

      Me neither. Thank God! ;-)

    • frozen01

      *waves* Well, hello Miles! The internet is such a small place! ;)

      You mentioned this same thing to my husband yesterday on Ray’s FB post, and I was going to say (but had to run)… I found this to be the case in Seattle, as well, but opposite political parties. Being from the suburbs of Chicago, where you really don’t talk about politics or religion (usually), I was shocked to hear people openly and loudly bashing Bush in a Seattle restaurant. It’s not that I necessarily disagreed with them, I just really wasn’t used to it! That sort of thing might get your car keyed around here *lol*

  • AKBob

    The point is that you should know your audience and do not assume that because they say something, that it is okay for an “outsider” to say. . It is the same in any country.

  • Dedra Kaye DeHart

    hmm, I must be mostly British. My family enjoys constant streams of profanity, we discuss our bathroom habits at the dinner table, and we are often instigating political debates at the local diner.

  • Derf Defard

    Limey bastards.

  • Nathan Buchanan

    Personally, none of these things would bother me. Im probably in the minority, but swear all you want and I would love to speak about religion or politics with a neighbor from across the pond. I think nationalism is silly as well.

  • Stephen

    I do not care about anything on this list, this makes look over reactive!

  • TARDISmum

    I find that profanity is very proliferate in the urban neighborhood I live in. I had to ask my neighbors to keep it down as they were cussing up a storm in the hallway very loudly. Now they are being jerks about it, but seriously…I have an autistic 3 year old, I don’t need him echoing getto cuss sessions. I have never been one to swear, and honestly most of my Brit friends are like me, and don’t swear for the sake of swearing. But the rest of the list, never bothered me.

  • DeanHare

    Sports and sports teams matter to many Americans, especially college (university) teams. DO NOT
    confuse these two terms: University of {insert name of state}; with {name of state} State University.

    In many places, these mistakes will provoke fights and/or violence at worst; or mere derision and mental delegation to the toilet cleaning crew at best.

    In the same vein, do not confuse professional sport teams in certain sports with one name and mascot with the exact same name in a different sport (professional or university). If you are unclear, be as specific as possible and ask for clarification in advance to mitigate any misunderstandings.

    • frozen01

      Perhaps in very specific localized regions this is the case, but I don’t think this is a general rule. I’ve lived in a lot of places, most of them at the very least football towns (all of which had more than one college/university), and most people just don’t care one way or the other, or are more than willing to laugh it off if someone obviously not from there makes a mistake.

  • Sara E. James

    Lots of Americans curse, and lots of Americans talk about their toilet issues. I don’t really feel like any of these would actually offend me. I don’t like cursing, but I’m used to most people doing it a lot, unfortunately.

  • kdoc13

    If people in England really want to avoid offending Americans, someone should put a gag in Jeremy Clarkson’s mouth and lock him in a basement. The Anti-Americanism he spouts on literally every single program he’s on (Q.I., Top Gear, Graham Norton, etc.) was funny when it was a simple one-off joke as part of Top Gear’s normally overly nationalistic and racist tone, but it’s gone past “getting old” and is now truly offensive.

  • Nobody_Important

    Americans are just horrible people… Coming from an American who is well traveled and enjoys learning world cultures. This comment will prove my point with this simple example… I am a realist. No matter what the subject is I am always willing to learn about both sides and never judge but if you know the correct information in American and actually contain an I.Q. and spend your life trying to better the world taking into the light the truth about things Americans tend to believe their fiction is true. You will get nothing but insults, and told horrible things. Don’t get me wrong every country has these people too but, America is about ignorance, misinformation, being a bigot, extremism, and selfishness. America is not the best country in the world when their own people cannot get along with each other over respecting one another. If you do not believe me look at what America did to the Asian American population in WWII, or how 2 years ago the State of Oklahoma tried to ban Islam from their state because they believed that religion was based on terrorism.

    • frozen01

      I’m sorry to say this, but it’s just as bad in other countries. The UK has an entire national party formed around the concept that Muslims are taking over their country and forcing Sharia law into Britain (basically, the same thing that our friends in Oklahoma were complaining about… see below for more on that). I can’t tell you how many anti-Muslim memes or atrociously racist comments I’ve seen come from Brits. And they certainly don’t “get along with each other over respecting one another”. Look at Northern Ireland. Look at Scotland. We joke about Texas seceding. They’re actually DOING IT (or seriously trying to, anyways).
      (PS: I still love you guys.)

      Also, not that I’m defending what they did, but Oklahoma didn’t try to “ban Islam”. They passed a “state constitutional amendment that forbade its courts from considering Islamic law in judicial decisions” (quoting the WSJ here). That is not the same thing as banning a religion, and actually was rather moot because our courts only consider secular law anyways. Plus, it was struck down by an Oklahoman judge, and the state’s defense never once brought up terrorism. A quick Google search would have told you all of this.

  • Jd Adams

    1. Don’t call my wife a yankee. 2. Don’t criticize Americans for their obesity rate until you’ve looked in a mirror. 3. Don’t criticize our food. ‘American’ cuisine is a misnomer – our cooking comes from all over the world, and some of it is yours. 4. Scoffing at MINDLESS or UNFOUNDED patriotism is ok. Just don’t scoff at my country. I love it, I served it, and I chose to reside in it.
    However, feel free to discuss lots of things around me. Religion and politics are not off limits as long as the conversation remains polite. Better yet, open with a Doctor Who or Terry Pratchett joke. You’ll have a best friend for life.

  • Krist Martin

    Oh, and remember that in the US your Fanny is your bum not your uh…front naughty bit.

  • Free Willy

    When in the South, if you must mention “Jesus,” turn it into a three syllabus word and pronounce it with gusto and with one hand in the air and eyes closed, as in “Je-HE-zus!”

  • MrBouche

    I don’t think a Brit could offend us more than we offend one another. I laughed at #1. We swear, oh boy do we swear! I will say that we may not be as creative with it but we’re making up for lost time.

  • Anna Wills

    I can’t help it, but I am for the South and every time I heard someone call me a Yank, I physically cringe! There is a heat divide between the Yankees in the North and the Southerners in the South. Call me a snotty pig and I would be less insulted!

  • Anna Wills

    LOL, the South is about as British as you get in America. I have lost track of how many times I have been asked if I am English because of my southern accent. The South like the English are still much more reserved. This crying and pouring your heart out comes from non-Southerners or Southern transplants, not a true Southerner. As for having a black president, that isn’t the issue. His horrible track record and the fact that he was elected president because he is HALF black, but lacking any really solid foundation in leadership/political ability is what really irks people.

    • frozen01

      “the fact that he was elected president because he is HALF black”

      Your opinion, not fact.
      For some reason, I find it really hard to believe that millions of people of all races and backgrounds didn’t like his policies, loved his opponents, or thought he was a terrible leader with no experience, but still voted for him because of the color of his skin. Sorry, but that takes a monumental suspension of disbelief.

  • Anna Wills

    The American Civil War in the South is still called The War of Northern Aggression.

    • kdoc13

      Your side lost, you should really get over that. Yankee, is a Revolutionary War term aimed at the colonies. All of them, including the Southern ones. Like it or not, you’re a Yankee. If you can’t handle that, don’t bother calling yourself an American either.

      • frozen01

        a) I lived in the South for 14 years and never once heard anyone call it “the War of Northern Aggression”. “The War Between the States”, yes, but that’s just another way of saying “Civil War”.
        b) Most Americans have never lived in any of the original colonies, so why on earth would you consider “Yankee” to be synonymous with “American”?

        • kdoc13

          Because the actual definition of Yankee is “a person who lives in, or is from, the United States.” It started in the Revolutionary war, it stuck. There would be no other States, if they lost the Revolutionary War. That’s why. Southerners just need to deal with it. Like it or not, they’re Yankees.

          • frozen01

            Only if you want to be a jerk about it.

            The definition of Yankee that says “a person who lives, or is from, the United States” is noted as “derogatory”.

            There is a second definition, however, that is not, and that is “an inhabitant of New England or one of the northern states”.

            If I called a person from California, or even an undoubtedly northern state such as Washington, a Yankee, I would get a weird look. We just don’t use that term in the way you’re describing. Brits might teasingly call us Yankees or Yanks, but it isn’t a word that we usually use to describe ourselves, except in very particular circumstances, most of them not particularly flattering. To call a Southerner a Yankee is puzzling for its inaccuracy, even when it’s not considered offensive.
            There is a complicated and fuzzy divide between North and South that has far more to do with modern politics and culture than something that happened a century and a half ago, not to mention that it’s extremely rude and presumptuous for someone to go around telling an entire region of people that they MUST be called a nickname they don’t want to be called, and to just “get over it”.

          • kdoc13

            Uh, I am a Californian, and if you want to call me a Yankee, I’ll wear it proudly. The only place where that definition is noted as “Derogatory” is Google. Try using an actual dictionary, you know, a book. Wait, you’re southern, you people are anti-books. Which brings me to point number 2.

            You’re making my point about needing to let it go for me. To call a southerner a Yankee, even when it is not “Considered offensive” and being taken as such is the problem. The damn war was over 150 years ago, yet it still affects everything you people do down there. You still fly the Confederate (traitor) Battle flag, throw balls commemorating being traitors and firing on your own people. It still inhabits your “Modern Politics” in that they still pine away for “States Rights” rather than just suck it up and admit they are in a union of many other states for the common good. It’s your stupid southern states that petition to be allowed to leave the union today, and threaten to leave the union when they cry like babies and don’t get their way (Texas) Why? State’s friggin rights, the code-word in the 1800′s for preserving slavery, so a bunch of well-to-do rednecks could avoid work as long as black people did it. It’s why my state pays more in taxes so you and all your little red-state buddies can get more out of the federal government than you put in, and yell about the rest of us, especially us in California, trying to force us to live back in your 1950′s Leave It To Beaver, non-evolution believing, non-science believing, same damn song being sung over and over again and labeled as “Country” music, and crappy accented world. The South, failing to move on, and applying it as you say to “Modern Politics” but blindly sticking its head in the sand and telling the rest of us to deal with it, that’s the problem. I wish Sherman had burned all of the south, then I wouldn’t have to support you all with my tax dollars, and I could have gun control, and have quality education (Yes, with Science), and universal health care, and all the other things that the rest of us want, but “South” doesn’t. I’m sorry that all those people who deride the rest of us as not being “Real Americans” get upset when labeled as one. My bad. The “Modern Politics” you speak of, is because the South has never truly embraced the fact that we’re either all in this together, or we are separate. And I’m sick of it. The South needs to get over itself, get over the war (the war THEY LOST!!!!) and get with the times (I’d settle for 20th century, if you think you could get the rest of the hilljacks to go along with it.)

            But yes, it’s rude of me to call a Southerner a nickname for an American. Grow up already.

  • http://beautifulsynthesis.com Andrea

    I find it interesting that Americans are more comfortable with their feelings, and Brits are more comfortable with bodily functions…

  • Amber Boggs

    Well, I have to say, as an american, I think this list is a bit silly. Notice no capital on that word. I’d sooner fly a pirate flag over my house, than an American or Rebel flag (technically, as a West Virginian, I live below the Mason Dixon line, but I will proudly shout, “I am a Damn Liberal, Hippie, Pagan Yankee who’d rather live in the UK!” I don’t even cry in front of my child or in a dark movie theatre, at least not so anyone would know it. I don’t care if you talk about religion or politics, as long as you are open-minded and ready for friendly banter if we don’t share beliefs. Heavy swearing? Not is front of my kid, but aside from that, I frankly don’t care. If you’d grown up around my Scots-German family and heard the language they used, we might make you blush. My only point of agreement is the bathroom/toilet/loo/ john/ potty/ whatever you want to call it. I will not be offended and I will understand what you mean, but I will NOT discuss colonic anything. That’d be none of your “darn” business. :D

  • Punkwhovian

    Okay…there’s a long list of comments but I feel the need to throw down on this one. I’m American, born and raised in Florida, although I’ve wished I was British pretty much since I was a kid. So here’s my take on the above:

    1. I, personally, swear like Malcolm Tucker. I actually found that I swore a bit TOO much at a pub run by English ex-pats, who even asked me (politely) to cover up my ‘pogue mahone’ tattoo. I think on this one it’s just best to get to know someone a little to see how they react. I admit, though, even I took a while to get used to what we call the c-word – for some reason, most women I know just find it icky. I’m getting better with it, and I find putting the word ‘daft’ in front of it softens the blow a bit. = )

    2. Sigh. Sadly Americans for the most part seem to believe that not only are we the BEST country on earth, but that we’re the ONLY country. Try finding out what’s happening literally ANYWHERE else on earth on most of our news channels…that’s why I rely on the World News Service so much. I’ve always felt that Americans are (without trying to be too harsh) a bit arrogant about us vs. the rest of the world, and a bit ignorant about us being the bestest country that has ever existed ever. If you encounter these people, I apologize on their behalf.

    3. Um…I guess, a bit. I think if I tell someone something sad, like my mum just passed away, I would hope they’d offer a consoling word or two, or understand if I wasn’t myself for a bit. But I also believe that everyone is going through horrible personal issues of their own, and I don’t believe you should feel entitled to have others care about your own problems. Plus, some people need to be TOLD to shut the f**k up and get over it.

    4. Does it count that I can’t poo away from home, or that I find it creepy if I realize I’m on the phone with someone who is on the toilet while talking to me? As I get older I care less about personal bathroom issues, but yeah, I guess we’re a bit less, um, forthcoming about our digestive issues. I’ve heard, though, that in Japan it’s perfectly acceptable and even common to discuss your raging diarrhea over dinner, so I don’t know.

    5. I see this more as a warning to Brits. Trust me, you don’t WANT to talk religion or politics to most Americans, because (especially in the South) we strongly believe in not just God but Jesus, the Rapture, the Apocalypse, the whole bit. More educated folks see this as completely silly, believing Bronze-Age mythology and even voting entirely based on YOUR opinion of how others should be legally forced to live their lives. I listed myself as ‘atheist’ on Facebook about a year ago, and was terrified…to me it felt like what gays must go through coming out to their parents. My own parents have still refused to mention it. So essentially, avoid politics and religion because you will almost certainly end up wanting to punch the person you are talking to.

    Finally, as to the Yankee thing, it’s weird but even I react to it and I don’t consider myself ‘Southern,’ it’s more just that people from the Northeast tend to be louder and ruder and just so different from us that I don’t want to be confused with one. I do think a strong Southern accent sounds uneducated (I know that is hugely prejudicial, I’m just being honest), but a Boston accent is quite possibly the most irritating thing I’ve ever heard. So yeah, I’m not a Yankee. Call me a ‘bloody Colonial’ all you want though.

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  • Gillian Knox

    meh… It depends where you are in America, come to a place like NYC- you can get away with pretty much anything on this list. Go to a less urbanized, smaller midwest-western area? Well. Think before you speak, yah?

  • joe87

    I’m curious why someone would find it “creepy” to see somebody displaying the flag of their home country. Although honestly, in many cases we usually only put the flag out on specific holidays that call for it, such as Independence Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc.

  • Argon

    HA! When I lived in England I took to aggressively asking for the toilet because whenever I asked for the bathroom I got the snarky response, “Why? Do you want to take a bath?” Ha, bloody, Ha.