Stereotypes

23 Jul 2013

Stereotypes

Hi guys! Let’s talk about stereotypes today, because this is a very interesting subject indeed. What stereotypes do you have about American and British people? To make the task easier for you, let me describe Americans and British and you will tell me if any of the descriptions are stereotypical?

First I would like to focus on differences between American and British Culture. Americans are very informal whereas British people are reserved and private and prefer not to put their emotions on public display. The British are a bit more contained in their body language and hand gestures while speaking. They are generally more distant than Americans and initially may appear to be unfriendly. Americans, on the contrary, are very open; they do not wait to be introduced and can begin to speak with strangers as they stand in a queue or sit next to each other on a bus. There is the class system in British society and nowadays it is not merely about wealth or where one lives; one can find out someone’s class through people’s accent and manners. As for Americans, some academics consider American society sociologically and economically fragmented in such a manner that no clear class distinctions can be made. Britain used to be a very homogenous society but since World War II, the situation has changed and Britain has become increasingly diverse with large immigrant populations, especially from its former colonies such as India, Pakistan and the West Indies. America was a nation of immigrants from the very beginning, that is why most Americans are ‘hyphenated-Americans’ and proud to boast of Scottish or Irish or German or Italian ancestry, even if it has been centuries since anyone in their family lived overseas. Many Americans like to remember this because they want to show that their family was once immigrants who dreamed of a better life ‘in America’. By pointing out that fact, many feel they are honouring and meeting their ancestors’ wishes and dreams. The British prefer to work with people and companies they know and most British look for long-term relationships with people they do business with. As for Americans, sometimes they do not even insist upon seeing or getting to know the people with whom they do business. Table manners are more relaxed in the U.S. than in Britain. Americans use only a fork for eating and a knife is used to cut or spread something. British use both a knife and a fork while eating.  The fork is held in the left hand and the knife is in the right one. It’s common for British people to go to a pub with their colleagues after work while Americans prefer to go straight home to their families.

Now let’s proceed to the similarities. Both British and Americans use handshakes to greet people and there are no issues over gender. Both in the UK and USA, when you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, it is polite to bring a small box of good chocolates, a bottle of wine or some flowers for the hostess. Gifts are normally opened when received. Punctuality is important for both American and British people. So, as we can see, beyond some linguistic and historical links America and Britain are not similar at all.

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