18 April 2013

Keep Calm and Mind the Gap

I’m quite pleased to have been directed to BBC America’s Mind the Gap webpage, about differences between life in Britain and in America. It’s written for British expatriates in the US, but has plenty of information useful for Americans in the UK, or folks who just enjoy the discrepancies.

For example, American Habits that British Will Never Understand includes “Compulsive sentimentality”:

my husband and I recently checked out of a B&B [in the US] after a two-night stay. Instead of bidding us farewell with a firm handshake and a receipt, the owner – a man in his 50s – latched on to me, then my man, for a prolonged hug. Just when we thought it was over, he announced, “I’ll miss you guys!” No, actually. You won’t.
Other highlights:
Two of the site’s correspondents debate whether Americans understand sarcasm, and an American commenter responds, “I find it hilarious that a British ‘debate’ consists of two people who think the same thing, but one feels sightly more strongly about it.” It takes another commenter to note that there are profound regional differences over the use and grasp of sarcasm within the US.

That debate in turn led me to BuzzfeedUK’s “British People Problems,” such as: “A man in the supermarket was browsing the food I wanted to browse, so I had to pretend to look at things I didn’t even want until he left.”

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