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It’s not just me. An artist created a text art installation using this expression! (Text-Art)

Right, so last week we highlighted British “imports” that we could use some more of. And, keeping in mind the saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” or, a little cruder, “Don’t sh*t where you eat,” there are some British influences that we could do without. But, it is meant in the best possible way! Hey, nobody is perfect — especially an entire nation. Here are a handful of examples:

1) “Are you alright?”
It took me a while to realize that when a Brit asked me “Are you alright?” that they are indeed saying, “Hi, how are you?” or simply, “What’s up?” I would get a text saying, “Are you alright” or “ Are you okay” and it seemed as if they were inferring something was wrong. So, me being me, would write back, “Yes. Are you?” The best part is the recipient didn’t even realize I was a little put off and, to be honest, a little rude in my response because they thought I was just answering them in the same manner. It’s a bit confusing right? I only realized what was going on when living in London and it happened a lot. I thought to myself, “Do I not look all right?” Ohhh, I get it (now). … It may be best to stick to “How are you?”

2) Over Apologetic
Yes, British people are considered reserved and polite but enough is enough. I have a friend, not to throw her under the bus, but would constantly say upon invitation, “I’d like to go but I don’t want to be a gatecrasher.” A gatecrasher, just in case it’s new to you, is basically a cutesy way of saying “crashing the party.” In response I said, “Of course you’re not, I wouldn’t invite you if that was the case.” It’s understandable the first time … I may feel like a tag-a-long myself in certain situations. It’s like, “uh-huh, don’t worry” the second time. The third time and beyond it’s like, “You’re not a gatecrasher. You’re invited. Done. Can you stop saying that, please?” It takes a lot of energy to constantly reassure someone that they are welcome and it may result in a lack of invites. If you don’t take my word for it, and I just plain sound like a jerk, then possibly this BuzzFeed 21 Brilliant British People Problems post supports my case.

3) The use of “Us”
Have you ever received a text and the person is like, “Give us a call …” Do you want to do a conference call? Who else will be on it? Or, you get a text saying, “We’re on the way.” It’s like, “I thought you were coming on your own?” and then all of a sudden you wonder who else is coming? I understand the royal “we” but that’s a little different like when you work for a big company and your boss may say, “We’re going to make a lot of money on this deal,” and you’re like, “Really, we are! Am I getting a bonus!” Nope, “we” means the company, not you. So, in the British case it’s just the one person. It’s not representing a bigger entity. It’s an odd habit and you’re like, “Just say ‘I’! There’s only one of you! I counted! You’re not that great to describe yourself as plural!” I mean it’s almost, not quite, but almost as bad as speaking in the third person.

4) The Two Finger Salute
Oh boy, you’re not fooling anyone! The two finger salute, which is best described as the peace sign with your hand reversed with the back facing out, is a British way of basically saying, “F-off.” I thought the Brits were so reserved and polite! <Insert American sarcasm. It’s not the actual sign that’s offensive but more or less that a Brit might think he’s sneaking something past us Americans. If the two fingers have ever been turned up to me it was in jest and I was absolutely not offended because I knew what the person was up to. And, now you do too. We (the royal we that is) can dedicate an entire post to British insults … oh, we did, two actually with Anglo’s The Brit List: 10 Stinging British Insults and Mind the Gap’s 10 Things That Brits Don’t Realize are Offensive to Americans.

5) “You’re so American …”
First things first, the U.S. is a very big place and there’s a lot of people here. I was living in London at the time I first heard this phrase uttered in my direction. I had just taken a shower and then made a cup of coffee. My English roommate seemed annoyed and said, “You’re so American.” Would he have preferred I take a bath followed by a cup of tea? On another occasion a friend-of-a-friend said the same thing to me at a party because I was wearing tan colored nylons with boots. It’s really not an “American” thing, it’s a “pastey leg” thing. Sure, it might be a fashion faux pas … but, no one even noticed until I mentioned it as my “lil’ secret.” A new friend standing with me quietly said to me, “That’s not a compliment.” Haha, I recognize an attempt at a dig when I hear one. It was so sweet of my friendly wingman to want to stand up for me but it wasn’t worth the argument. Nor, was it necessary. I shrugged and simply responded to the snappy girl, “Yep, I am.”

Cheeky Disclaimer: At the end of the day, I love anything and everything British … but, err, sometimes (picture me waffling), it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Please take this with a grain of salt!

Do you have any Britishisms that irk you? 


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By Brigid Brown