Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Point of Information, please

Like a great many people around this globe of ours, I have been watching the World Cup as much as I can and find myself checking the news services for updates when I miss some of the action. While doing this I became aware of a little mistake we Americans seem intent on making. It is a small point, and no one does it maliciously, we just don’t seem to know better. So, for the edification of my fellow Americans and in the name of continued world peace, let me try to get a few of us back on friendly relations.

The American team played the team from England to a tie, which was actually good, but it seems that some of us Americans are unclear as to whom exactly we were playing. Many in the U.S., including The New York Times, Los Angeles' Daily News and even Fox News’s Greta van Susteren, referred to America’s opponent as “the British team.” A great many of the headline writers settled for British, Brits, or Brit, and The Times-Picayune started an editorial “When the U.S. soccer team takes on Britain today...”

The correct team name, of course, was not that of Britain, but England. England is only one of the nations that constitute Britain, otherwise known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and which includes Scotland and Wales. It is confusing for foreigners that Britain, which includes Northern Ireland, is actually bigger than Great Britain, which doesn’t include Northern Ireland. Some other countries, such as France, add to the confusion by often calling the whole lot “England” (l’Angleterre).

Does it matter very much to anyone else? Yes, it certainly does to England’s fellow Brits, the Scots and Welsh, who have their own national teams (as does Northern Ireland), and for reasons of historic and cultural rivalry often support England’s opponents.

So, now you know and I feel better. Thank you.

(Oh, by the way, BP does not stand for British Petroleum. "BP" stands for “BP” and has since they changed it to BP over a decade ago. The original company started in 1909 as the “Angelo-Persian Oil Company”. There, now you more than the President. Feel better? You're welcome).

How About a Good Laugh:



Ted Leddy said...

Since I am from the Republic of Ireland this mistake is rarely made but on the odd occasion where someone from another part of the world thinks that the republic is part of Great Britain, I can get a little bit upset.

I do however know lots of Scots and Welsh who are proud of being British but become enraged at being mistaken for English. Confusing I know.

As for the Northern Irish. The Protestant population tend to support the NI team where as the catholics support the southern republic's team. Both like to see England lose.

Gary, I admire your little piece for world peace.

Gary said...

I find that many of my friends simply do not know any better. When I point out little errors such as these they generally try not to make them again (especially around me). Small progress, but progress never the less.