Posted by: janecronin | May 20, 2012

Nationality labels or “nobody expected …”

I had a strange thought this morning as I was lying in bed about why we label things with their nationality.  This may sound obvious, but the Spanish refer to the Spanish Inquisition as simple “la inquisición”.  This odd thought led me to ask my other half what an “English breakfast” is called in England (since I can’t remember).  He thinks it’s called a “fried breakfast”, although I have a feeling that it is also called an English breakfast in hotels where it is differentiated from a “continental breakfast”.  This stray thought took me to another nationality tag – German u-boats.  I suppose the Germans just called them “u-boats” – and then I started to wonder whether we label things with their nationality when they are unpleasant and we want to distance ourselves from them.

However, perhaps when you are proud of something you keep the nationality label.  Some evidence for this idea is the “American dream”.  The Americans also call it the “American dream”, not just “the dream”.  That’s because want to make sure everyone knows it’s American!  We don’t have an “English dream” do we?  But we do have an “English country garden”.  That’s something we’re proud of.  Other nationalities don’t have (as far as we’re concerned) country gardens as nice as ours.

There’s a lot more scope for this line of thought, which I might pursue when I wake up tomorrow morning.



  1. The Danes call Danish Pastries, Wienerbrød ….from Vienna!!

    (Rather strange as I would have thought these are something to be proud of)

    The French do not claim their letters although they do say, “Paris was not built in a day (instead of Rome). The Spanish however lament that Zamora was not won in an hour.

    If you want to upset a Swede in Spain you could mention, “hacer el sueco”
    (“to do the Swedish thing” – as in allow the Germans to jackboot through your country from occupied Denmark to Norway.

    (If we are to believe some Germans, of course, they did not occupy Norway, they just “administered” it. Whatever I think about Zappy or Rajoy, I doubt 10,000 will die nor will 700 Jews be sent to concentration camps)

    …..and so we go on.

  2. In Scotland it´s called “a fry up” – it certainly isn´t called an English breakfast!
    Hotels & pubs certainly refer to it as the latter, in Spain anyway. Will the UK EVER have a dream? Well I can dream can´t I, that maybe in the future the world will be at peace, but then it IS just a dream! I hope God can read e-mails though!

  3. In England everyone refers to the biggest breakfast as “A Full English”. There is absolutely no doubt as to what is required then. I know of no other country in the world that that can claim this “unique” offering. Ireland will do you proud for breakfast, but as with everywhere else, you have to spell out what you require. Good Old England !!!!!

    Nice to see you again Jane.

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