Friday, 9 October 2009

Tribes and tribulations

The anglo saxons haven't existed for a very long time, at least as far as I'm aware, otherwise we'd probably have a better idea of how to read Beowulf. So where does the obsession come from other countries lumping all the English speaking ones under the same banner?

I heard today on the news how President Obama's receiving of the Nobel Prize was a great achievement for the 'Anglo Saxon world'. I was rather under the impression (unless of course, my history is totally wrong) that the US was made up of the indigenous Americans and a lot of different European immigrants. That rather suggests that perhaps a moniker dedicated to a long dead tribe might be rather redundant. It would seem not.

I just find it a real surprise that, in a country where identity is still a moot point, and indeed there is still great debate over whether people are Spanish, Gallego, Catalan etc. that a generic, and moreover innacurate description can happily be used on the evening news.

For my sins I am English, Southern English, and have a plummy RP accent, which in itself obviously means I live in a castle with a butler and that my political opinions are obviously totally reactionary and lost in a century of colonies and tiffin. So it might be surprising to you all that when I hear the UK being liberally referred to as England I feel a big 'no' coming on. I am not going to get political, suffice to say that I amaware of the existence of various other parts of the British Isles where describing the locals as English is likely to lead to offence at best, eating through a straw at worst.

I'm NCE (Non Confrontational English). I'm proud of my heritage, proud of the place I come from, and happy that it's a place people want to go to, to live and to visit. But precisely that past and that heritage has nothing to do with someone that grew up in Scotland, the US, Australia etc. When was the last time anyone referred to Iberia without making a direct reference to the airline? Is Zapatero the Iberian president? Is the Paella an Iberian dish?

I suppose that the power of words is precisely the belief that goes into them: perhpas it is time to start treating them with a little more care?