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Британский индивидуализм – British Individualism

24.05.2011

The British can be particularly and stubbornly conservative about anything which is perceived as a token of Britishness. In these matters, their conservatism can combine with their individualism; they are rather proud of being different. It is: for example, very difficult to imagine that they will ever agree to change from driving on the left-hand side of the road to driving on the right. It doesn’t matter that nobody can think of any intrinsic advantage in driving on the left. Why should they change just to be like everyone else? Indeed, as far as they are concerned, not being like everyone else is a good reason not to change.


Developments at European Union (EU) level which might cause a change in some everyday aspect of British life are usually greeted with suspicion and hostility. The case of double-decker buses is an example. Whenever an EU committee makes a recommendation about standardizing the size and shape of these is provokes warning from British bus builders about the end of the double-decker bus as we know it . The British public is always ready to listen to such predictions of doom.


Systems of measurement are another example. The British government has been trying for years and years to promote the metric system and to get British people to use the same scales that are used nearly everywhere else in the world. But it has had only limited success. British manufacturers are obliged to give the weight of their tins and packets in kilos and grams. But everybody in Britain still shops in pounds and ounces. The weather forecasters on television use the Celsius scale of temperature. But nearly everybody still thinks in Fahrenheit. British people continue to measure distances, amounts of liquids and themselves using scales of measurement that are not used anywhere else in Europe. Even the use of 24-hour clock is comparatively restricted.


British government sometimes seems to promote. this pride ill being different. In 1993 the managers of a pub in Slough (west of London) started selling glasses of beer which they called swifts (25 cl) and larges (50 c1), smaller amounts than the traditional British equivalent of half a pint and a pint. You might think that the authorities would have been pleased at this voluntary effort to adopt European habits. But they were not. British law demands that draught beer be sold in pints and half-pints only. ‘The pub was fined $3,100 by a court and was ordered to stop selling the continental measures. British government have so far resisted pressure from business people to adopt Central European Time, remaining stubbornly one hour behind, and they continue to start their financial year not, as other countries do, at the beginning of the calendar year but at the beginning of April!


The British Isles haven’t always been a separate part of Europe. Long time ago Britain was a part of the European continent. Then about ten thousand years ago during the end of the last Ice Age, when the climate grew warmer, new rivers and sees were formed Europe slowly moved into its present shape. The ancient people of Britain were simple hunters and ate flesh of animals fruits, nuts, honey. They fished, and gathered oysters. They didn’t have a permanent place of living and traveled from place to place, sheltering in caves. Then the British men have become the farmers. The Stone Age farmer had the patches in the forests that covered most of Britain. He kept half-wild cattle and pigs in a forest and in Northern Scotland, free from forests, he kept sheep. By the end of the Stone Age (2000 BC) metal was already being used. It was time of the Invasion of Beaker people. They came from the Northern Europe.


They used bronze and it was them, who started the building of Stone monuments at Stonehenge. Mining and trade were growing during the Bronze Age (ab. 2000-500 BC). About 500 BC British people were learning how to smelt iron. Iron tools had an advantage over bronze ones: they were much cheaper. The beginning of the Iron Age (ab. 400 BC) British Isles were invaded by Celts armed with weapons of iron. They conquered Kent and much of Southern England. They imposed their language on the natives, its Gaelic form was used in Ireland and Scotland, the Brythonic form – in England and Wales. It was the Brythonic tribe that gave its name to the whole country. The first chronicle of Britain was written by an educated merchant from Morsel. He also wrote the first description of the people, called Celts. He said they were a gentlefolk, skilled craftsman, who welcomed visitors. The most educated visitor of Britain described the British as a fierce race. His name was Julius Caesar. Present English dates back to 5th-6th centuries, when Germanic tribes of Jutes, Saxons Angles overran all England except Cornwall Cumberland. Some religious terms were borrowed from Latin in connection with converting England to Christianity by St. Augustin. Some parts of England were invaded by Danes Norwegians, that’s why the languages of the Anglo-Saxons Danes formed the basis of English. Normans contributed greatly to the developing of English language during their invasion. Next point of this was the 15th-16th centuries when written language was stabilized with help of spreading of printing. In 19th century the growth of British colonial power led to the spread of English as world language. But still it was only the 1930 when the British Foreign Office stopped using French for all its official memoranda. So It was the long way of coming-to-be the language of international communication from old Anglo-Saxon dialects to the world language in 20th century.



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