Cultural Differences

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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:29 pm

Hello again, British folk:

Is Bath considered part of the West Country?

Context for that question: I have a co-worker and friend, also American, who told her British professor that he sounds like Wheatley from Portal 2 (voiced by Stephen Merchant). I was in her office while she was watching some YouTube video about Portal 2. I didn't know that at the time as I wasn't looking at the screen and was busy reading. When I heard Wheatley speaking, I asked, "Are you watching something about the West Country?" She wasn't familiar with the term, so I explained it. Keep in mind that I mainly know about it because of Hot Fuzz and the jokes Bill Bailey makes about it, so my explanation may not have been very flattering. Now she's worried that she may have inadvertently insulted her professor.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:56 pm

Yes, although I tend to associate the term more immediately with rural areas. Nevertheless, Bath is in Somerset, and Somerset is a word that sounds very distinctive in a West Country accent, so it must be in the West Country. I'm pretty sure that's bulletproof reasoning.

I'm not entirely clear how your friend will have insulted her professor. While Wheatley is a comic character, Stephen Merchant isn't putting on a ridiculous voice for the rôle – that's pretty much his natural accent (he being from Bristol), so I don't think having your voice compared to his would be particularly hurtful, unless the comparison was wildly inaccurate. Is the professor from Bath? Is the potential offence the prospect that Bath is somewhere else entirely? It's not; it's pretty close to Bristol.

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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:23 pm

Yeah, the professor is from Bath (forgot to specify). And her concern was that she compared his accent to a more folksy, country bumpkinish accent.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby ntw3001 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:40 pm

Insinuating that a person might be from Bath is, of course, a grave faux pas.

The fellow I lived with for the first few months in Toronto was from Bath. It is a distinctive accent, especially when pronouncing the word 'Bath'.

I don't see any cause for offence. Stephen Merchant isn't an unpleasant-sounding chap. I might be a little aggrieved if told that I sounded like, I dunno, Jade Goody (are there any male, alive celebrities with thick Essex accents?). But if they were American, I'd put it down to unfamiliarity with British accents. It's unlikely though, because my accent is apparently neutral enough that people generally can't tell where I'm from.

Wikipedia says that Jade Goody was famous(?) 'for displaying a severe lack of general knowledge for a British native'. When did general knowledge become a defining trait of British natives? Citation needed.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:47 am

ntw3001 wrote:When did general knowledge become a defining trait of British natives?


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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:49 am

I think it probably refers to stuff like her thinking Cambridge is in France, or whatever it was. The sentence could be clearer.

Your friend should tell him he sounds like Phil from Time Team:
https://youtu.be/61lfmiAMC84

(Don't do that.)
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby MysticalDescent » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:51 pm

I shall miss Time Team when it finishes. I don't always watch it, but it's reassuring to know that it's there.

Bath is a very pretty place. I know somebody who now lives there. He used to throw a frisbee about on a small patch of grassy land in front of some houses with a group of people who he knew. They suddenly stopped when they saw them on the television, featuring in some sort of property show that explained that the row of houses were, in fact, listed buildings built in the Georgian period and were some of the most valuable houses in the country.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby chrismachine » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:19 pm

A really cool article. UK folk would likely be interested in some of the stuff at the end as well. The title is AWFUL but the article is good.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/ ... of-america
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:43 pm

Pretty interesting. The idea that time solidifies borders is strange, but it does seem to hold true: I've often found it strange that borders can be as well-defined as they are, particularly when it comes to things like language and accent, but I guess given law as a starting point, and enough time for that law to crystallise matters, things will settle that way. Not that the cultural differences are clear-cut at borders, but I'm kind of surprised that borders are observable at all in anything other than a legal sense, which they are.

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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:15 pm

Chicago captures a chunk of Indiana and Wisconsin, but not southern Michigan.


As someone who's lived within a three hour drive of Chicago for 95% of my life, I have traveled to Wisconsin with some degree of regularity. I would say that I hardly ever go to Indiana, except that I went this past weekend. Also, I lived there once. I haven't been to Michigan since I was a kid, though.

My point is that the statistics are true for me.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby sum yun gai » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:22 am

jvcc wrote:
Chicago captures a chunk of Indiana and Wisconsin, but not southern Michigan.


As someone who's lived within a three hour drive of Chicago for 95% of my life, I have traveled to Wisconsin with some degree of regularity. I would say that I hardly ever go to Indiana, except that I went this past weekend. Also, I lived there once. I haven't been to Michigan since I was a kid, though.

My point is that the statistics are true for me.


i lived in milwaukee for a number of years and never got to michigan either. ZOMG, it's true! :shock:
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:22 pm

One's an anecdote; two's a trend!
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:52 pm

I wonder if Michigan is still there.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby MysticalDescent » Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:29 pm

James wrote:Pretty interesting. The idea that time solidifies borders is strange, but it does seem to hold true: I've often found it strange that borders can be as well-defined as they are, particularly when it comes to things like language and accent, but I guess given law as a starting point, and enough time for that law to crystallise matters, things will settle that way. Not that the cultural differences are clear-cut at borders, but I'm kind of surprised that borders are observable at all in anything other than a legal sense, which they are.

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I believe Benedict Anderson has a lot to say about that kind of thing in Imagined Communities. I don't know if that's a well known book or not, but the premise of it is interesting and fairly relevant.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:36 pm

MysticalDescent wrote:
James wrote:Pretty interesting. The idea that time solidifies borders is strange, but it does seem to hold true: I've often found it strange that borders can be as well-defined as they are, particularly when it comes to things like language and accent, but I guess given law as a starting point, and enough time for that law to crystallise matters, things will settle that way. Not that the cultural differences are clear-cut at borders, but I'm kind of surprised that borders are observable at all in anything other than a legal sense, which they are.

RAMBLING!


I believe Benedict Anderson has a lot to say about that kind of thing in Imagined Communities. I don't know if that's a well known book or not, but the premise of it is interesting and fairly relevant.


It comes up quite a lot in early American literature classes. Mainly because the former colonists, after the Revolutionary War and all that, self-consciously distanced themselves from Britain by trying to create a new American identity through their writing.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby EsBe » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:37 pm

For people who dig accents and speech (guessing that in this case, "people" = jvcc) this was a pretty good radio show:
http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/node/25958
(download the mp3, the streaming thingy for this show cuts out 10 minutes in)
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:29 pm

EsBe wrote:(guessing that in this case, "people" = jvcc)

Nope!

EDIT: Early on one of the experts describes accents as basically "a mispronunciation of sounds within a word". I would have thought it would be better described as variance in pronunciation rather than mispronunciation; some accents may be more common or hold more social capital, but the idea that any one accent is the source from which all the others spring is, I think, mistaken. Even if she wasn't claiming as much, I'd still refrain from making evaluative statements about accents.

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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby ntw3001 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:46 pm

all accents are pollutions of the true Platonic language form
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby chrismachine » Wed Jun 05, 2013 11:08 pm

^hahahahaha
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:04 pm

Whoa, how did I miss this? Very nice, EsBe.

Switching from my usual interest in British-American cultural differences, I shall presently ask a question about Australia. But first you need some context: I've been watching the Australian Apprentice (I know it's a terrible show; that's not the point), and one of the tasks required contestants to sell food from a truck. One contestant was talking to a person on the street and asked him, "Are you from Australia?" to which the pedestrian responded that he was from New Zealand. The narrator then announced, "Their first sale of the day is to a Kiwi."

As further preface to my question: I know that "Kiwi" is not a derogatory term whatsoever and I also know that shows like The Apprentice do not necessarily offer accurate representations of the cultures they depict--or, as usually seems to be the case, they present the worst aspects of any given culture. With all that said, I found the moment a bit odd. If someone on the American Apprentice sold something to a person from Canada, I don't think the narrator would feel the need to inform the audience that a product had been sold to a Canuck, or something like that. So, I suppose my question is whether most Australians would have found that moment odd and unnecessary as well, or if Australians in general have an attitude toward inter- national/ethnic relations that differs, slightly, from what I take to be the general attitude of Americans.

I don't think I've explained myself well, but I will offer further clarification upon request.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby chrismachine » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:52 pm

I guess it would be different if any of our national teams represented themselves on the world stage with the name canucks. Other than Vancouver's hockey team, nobody here really calls ourselves that in any official category. I know you weren't making a direct comparison, but to the best of my knowledge they do, and so it's something you might more readily apply to the people of that country.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby ntw3001 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 4:22 pm

I am accepted onto a CELTA course and will soon be certificated to English language teaching to adults! Unless I fail, but then um well whatever. So I'll then be looking for jobs involving... cultural differences. How does a Brazilian man hold a pen? Are dinosaurs still cool in Korea? What do Italian people eat if they don't have much time for breakfast? All these questions and more will
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby chrismachine » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:56 pm

Hey, that's pretty cool, although I suspect that won't likely bring you back to Canada...
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby jvcc » Sun Jul 07, 2013 3:48 pm

Awesome, Enty. :) I welcome you among the rank of English educators.
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Re: Cultural Differences

Postby James » Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:14 pm

YOU'RE NOT ENGLISH!

(This was an amusing post.)
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