'Britishness'... what's your take on it, can we define it...?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by TheMusicMan, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Hey All

    There seems to be a fair few conversations right now on the subject of 'Britishness'.

    I see a Panorama programme on the subject was on TV recently, and discussions prevail on its exact definition. What exactly is 'Britishness' though...? So, let's see if we can define the term and see if we can determine what 'Britishness' actually is.

    So, how would you define 'Britishness'...? what constitutes 'Britishness'...?
  2. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Being born / living in Great Britain is a start I guess.
  3. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    John, did you mean "define" or "defy"? :biggrin:
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Bear with me a minute on this one.....

    In Norman Davies' excellent book The Isles he writes about the origin of the name "Britain" rendered in Latin by Tacitus as "Britannia". The name was first recorded in writing by the Ancient Greeks, who mounted sailing expeditions round the coastlines of Europe before the Romans got here and wrote it as "Pretanike". The name most likely comes from the same celtic root as the Welsh "Prydain", but here's the thing. There are two main branches of the Celitc language family spoken in our immediate vicinity. Brythonic, derived from a proto-celtic language known as "P-Celtic" which includes Welsh, Cornish and Breton and Goidelic, ("Q-Celtic") which includes Gaelic, Erse and Manx. Apparently one of the characteristic differences between the two families is a tendency to replace the "P" sound in Brythonic languages with a "Q" or "K" sound in Goidelic languages. So had the Greeks first encoutered, say, Irish Scots, they may well have recorded the name of our Island as "Critanike" or "Crutanike" and we'd now be asking for definitions of Critishness. :D

    :oops: Sorry, I'll go back in Pseuds' Corner now...
  5. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Its simple really -
    Britain or one of its home countries is your spiritual home and you look to it first and foremost as your home culture
    You support Britain's sporting team above all others
    Your first language is English, Gaelic, or Welsh.
    You would lay down your life in the defence of Britain (no matter who the threat is)
    Britain is the place you want to bring up your children and where you want to be buried.
    You don't qualify your Britishness with something else such as British-Asian, British-Black etc.
  6. Angoose

    Angoose Member

    A large part of britishness is surley fish and chips on a saturday night? Goes hand in hand with brass bands aswell, should be somethin about that there.
  7. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    Well, no matter on a person's colour or creed, and dare I say it, we have to be pc on this these days, but because you were born here, or livivng here for the rest of your life, thats all part of Britisihness. My view, unofficially is back to he halcyon days of Elgar, VW, Holst and Delius. Ofocourse times have changed, we have to keep pace, somehow!!
  8. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    That would coincide neatly with the First and Second World Wars. Halcyon days? ;)
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    You worry me sometimes :eek:
  10. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I worry myself sometimes :oops:
  11. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    What about those on the Indian sub-continent during and after the British Raj, many of whom appeared to be "more British than the British", at least so far as cultural and moral standards and aspirations are concerned.

    I must confess to being quite confused when it comes to this concept of "Britishness", particularly when people try to put it in stone - when they printed a list of suggested questions that could be posed to those applying for citizenship a while back there were several where I wouldn't have had a clue,and they actually seemed quite irrelevant as far as I was concerned.

    Many of the customs and practices that we think of as being traditionally Brisish have been accumulated over the years as a result of our constantly changing population, and I would hope that would continue to happen.
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... and I always thought it was how the media described someone in the UK who was successful but not an English person :rolleyes:
  13. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    However un-PC it is I think the cricket (or football, rugby, etc) test is about right.

    Do you support britain (or if competing separately England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland depending on your place of birth/family links)
  14. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I would have to disagree: although of English stock through many generations, I will always cheer on Wales - or even France :eek: - against England at rugby as I greatly prefer their flowing style. I cannot subscribe to the "my country, right or wrong" concept: I'll support them if they warrant it, be it in the sporting arena or in some other context, but not just because they are English/British.
  15. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    Question for you: Who is more British, someone who thinks of themselves as English or Scottish or Welsh more than British, or someone who thinks of themselves as British-Asian, or British-Black? Personally I think one of the things that defines Britain is its being a mix of all sorts of things.

    Don't agree with the burying thing at all. Don't care a jot where I'm buried as I don't believe I'll be aware of it, seen as I'll be dead. Don't see how it makes me any more or less British.
  16. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    Peter bale, my mother was part of the British Raj. Her father's regiment waa stationed out in India for sometime! He was a colonel.
  17. Di B

    Di B Member

    Think there are two elements.

    1. Being proud of all British achievements. Seeing the representation of the country as an honour and being prepared to defend and fight for the country if needed.

    All these things I would expect any citizen of any country to do to be honest.

    2. Then there is what makes Britain different to the rest. I would say it is our spirit. We never give up. Throughout history the Brits are stubborn :) Even if we lose we still fight (think of football...over 40 years ago we last won but we all think we can still do it. Same with area contests too!).
    I think this is fundamentally British. You dont see it in many other countries and I think this sets us apart.
  18. brassbandmaestro

    brassbandmaestro Active Member

    Very good post there Di B. Its the individuality of a country that sticks out. Yes we Britons are stubborn and always a lot of hope, plus the greatBritish compromise!
  19. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    Well by definition if you are from one of the British home nations and you think yourself one of those peoples then you are British.

    If you simply reside here and class yourself 'spiritually' as Pakistani, Polish, Jamaican, Indian, Chinese etc. then your'e not. You may be a British citizen with a British passport but you are not British in your heart.

    Quite simply Welsh-British, English-British, Scottish-British are British because the home nations are physically British. Even if you consider yoursef Scottish and not the least bit British you are British by definition and you can't escape the tag.

    But you can't have African-British or Asian-British because Africa and Asia are'nt British.

    That does not mean you can't be British if you are not white Anglo-Saxon though. If your ancesters were from any other country but you live here and you think yourself British (or English,Scots,Welsh,Brit-Irish) above all other definitions of yourself, then you are British.

    In the end its a belonging/loyalty thing not a race or colour thing.
  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I don't think that "Britishness" is a sensible term to coin. We can see that clearly from the first two pages of debate under this topic - everybody disagrees; some want to include things that others don't; others will not conceive of leaving things out that others again regard as essential.

    Personally, I am thankful that I was born and live somewhere that is generally rather pleasant, and where I can offer disagreement on important issues without having to be concerned about somebody knocking on my door in the middle of the night.

    But that is as far as it goes for me, and as far as I think it sensible for anyone to go. To tie up an emotional response with 'your' country is to involve yourself in something really dangerous - for example, becoming a sporting partisan is the thin end of a very long and thick wedge indeed - one that leads, by way of rivalry, then bigotry and racism, to situations where the state can have you happily respond to calls for action to do the most unpleasant deeds imaginable.

    If you're a strong-minded person who knows exactly where you draw the line, and why you draw it where you do, you can dip your toe into these waters without too much risk of being mentally changed and potentially abused by others, but there are so many people out there who go along with it because it's what those around them do, people who are swept along by the tide of opinion. It took the Nazis 15 years to bring Germany around to their way of thinking - but they managed it, simply by persisting long and brutally enough in their politics to forcibly swing majority public opinion around to their originally minority way of thinking.

    Put simply, my personal credo - I am a 'me'; shaped directly by those who have been and are around me, and indirectly by those who have created the laws that govern the country where I currently live. I am not defined by abstract and/or stereotyped notions of how people from individual countries might behave.
    The idea of "Britishness" is separated so much from this notion of identity as to be largely meaningless to me, and steps on a road to patriotism and nationalism that I will not travel on.

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