What you didn’t know you didn’t know about the UK

Are you ever confused by the different terms out there about England?  Do you say Great Britain, United Kingdom, England….Is there a difference?  Who wears the kilts?  Why does Canada care about the Queen of England?  Their mother tongue is English however not only are the accents different:

but the words are sometimes/often different as well. This post will be a public highlight of my ignorance (yay isn’t realizing you are/were ignorant fun?!). BUT I believe I’m not alone in my ignorance about our former colonial rulers and therefore I’m putting on a brave face and sharing it with you all for the ‘greater good’.  I’m such a martyr eh?

orange = UK

orange = UK

Name breakdown:  ‘England’ = only England, ‘Britain’ = Wales & England, ‘Great Britain’ = Scotland, Wales & England, and finally ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ = Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, & England.

Here’s a little trivia for you regarding the countries that make up the U.K.


England flag

England’s King Henry VIII is the King who was Catholic but wanted to divorce his wife and is arguably responsible for the spread of Protestantism (pop culture reference TV show “The Tudors”).  Female author Jane Austen was English (Pride & Prejudice/Sense & Sensibility).  Current singer sensation Adele is English.  Hollywood celebrity English include Hugh Laurie (Dr House), Kiera Knightley, and Helen Mirren.


Scotland flag

In September of last year Scotland voted on a referendum that proposed they cede from the United Kingdom.  I wrote a short clip about it here, if you are interested.  The pop culture reference to Scotland most of you know would be the hit 90’s movie ‘Braveheart’.  The author of Sherlock Holmes was Scottish.  Hollywood celebrity Scots include Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, and Gerard Butler.



Ireland Flag

A current pop culture reference to Ireland you might recognize is from the hit TV biker show ‘Sons of Anarchy’.  One of the plots throughout the show is their volatile relationship with the IRA.  The ‘Sons’ deal weapons with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and one of their members, Chibs, was also an IRA member.  In reality, the IRA does exist and their desire is for a United Ireland.  The Irish flag is sometimes flown in Northern Ireland to show political desire for a United Ireland.This is a very real conflict that is highly political, emotional, and sadly had/has casualties on all sides.  Hollywood celebrity Irish include Colin Farrell, Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson.


Wales flag

Wales pop culture references include Clogging (Welsh folk dance) the popular alternative rock band ‘Lost Prophets’ and the title ‘Prince of Wales’ which is the title given to the heir of the British monarchy (yes you do know him, this is the Prince who put the Princess in name of the beloved Princess Diana). This I find interesting because the title makes it sound like he would be born in Wales, but that is not in fact true.  It is possible that there are fewer pop culture references to Wales because they ceded to England more easily in comparison to Scotland and Ireland.  Hollywood celebrity Welsh include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, and for you paranormal movie fans Michael Sheen (Underworld’s Lucian & Twilight’s Aro).

Kilts are worn in both Scottish culture and Irish culture.  There are 3 main differences between the kilts of the cultures; the fabric of the kilt, style of the accompanying jacket, and the accessories.  For more information on the differences here’s a short article.

Canada cares about the Queen of England because she is also their Queen. Canada is 1 of 53 countries worldwide that make up the Commonwealth. 16 of the 53 (Canada included) are called Commonwealth realms that all share the same monarch. Click here for a list of Commonwealth countries. There’s TONS of info about this topic but most of it is about economic alliances and spending power…if that’s your cup of tea read more about it here.

And now to the fun part word comparisons:

Baby Stroller Pram, or Push chair
Bangs (hair style) Fringe
Sweater Jumper
Elevator Lift
Diapers Nappies
Shopping cart Trolley
Line (as in to wait in a line) Queue
Mom Mum
Pants Trousers
Sidewalk Pavement
Hood (car) Bonnet
Trunk (car) Boot
Cilantro Coriander
Soccer Football
Buddy/Pal Mate
Parking lot Car park
Trash Rubbish
Underwear Knickers
“I think I ate a bad egg; I’ve a stomach ache” “I think I ate a dodgy egg; I’ve a stomach ache”
“bullshit” or “bullcrap” “bollocks”
“what a jerk” “what a wanker”
“I’ve had a freaking awful week” “I’ve had a bloody awful week”
“I really screwed up that order” “I really cocked up that order”

There are tons of other fun words and phrases the British say that are not on my list.  I think I have picked up a few such as ‘pram’ and ‘queue’, but I sound really dumb if I try to say bollocks or bloody; it just doesn’t sound right without the British accent.

Popular yet traditional British eats with descriptions given to me by a British friend (click on blue names for images):

> – toasted crumpets – with butter and usually fruit jam. Lovely with a cup of tea.
> – bacon sandwich – with tomato ketchup or hp brown sauce (I forgot to ask my British friends what hp brown sauce actually is)
> – English breakfast – bacon, sausage, egg (usually fried but scrambled is also okay) half a tomato and mushroom. This is usually served with toast or traditionally fried bread, which you do last in the pan, so it soaks up the juices of everything else you cooked beforehand. Common additions are baked beans and black pudding.
> – roast dinner – this will involve roasting a large piece of meat (beef, chicken, lamb or pork) and serving it with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The potatoes are usually cooked in the pan around the meat so they take on some of the flavours. The remaining juices etc are then used to make gravy. Depending which meat you choose, the accompaniments vary – beef always has yorkshire puddings and mustard/horseradish sauce; chicken has a savoury stuffing and bread sauce; pork will have apple sauce; lamb will have mint sauce.  Often this is the “Sunday Roast” and people will have it every Sunday.
> – fish n chips with mushy peas – the peas are usually served separately and are made using a type of dried peas which are then cooked long and slow so they end up quite soft and the water they were cooked in becomes thickened and green. It’s a bit like a lumpy pea soup – mmm, delicious! They tend to be separate as the fish & chips are usually bought from a fish & chip shop and wrapped together in paper whereas the peas will be in a little plastic cup. With the fish & chips, you usually season it with salt and sometimes vinegar. In some parts of the country there is a cheap version of mushy peas called pea wet which is the liquid left behind as the peas cook.
> – sausages and mash also called bangers and mash – mash is short for mashed potatoes.
> – apple crumble – Served with custard or cream. Custard is made from egg yolks, sugar and milk. The milk is heated and then you add the egg yolks and sugar, stirring until it thickens. The french make a version called creme anglaise.
> – scones with cream and jam (based on what I’ve seen of scones, I think I’d call them biscuits)

And with that, I do believe it’s time for me to find something to eat!


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