- Taschenbuch: 600 Seiten
- Verlag: Nicholas Brealey America; Auflage: 00002 (1. Juli 2014)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 185788616X
- ISBN-13: 978-1857886160
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 3,8 x 13,3 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
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Watching the English, Second Edition: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior Revised and Updated (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Juli 2014
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"Watching the English has become an international bestseller. Now, ten years on, Kate Fox has dug deeper into our national foibles and eccentricities to update her study. The result is gloriously entertaining - and painfully accurate!" —Daily Mail
"Fascinating... every aspect of English conversation and behavior is put under the microscope." —Western Daily Press
"A witty, eloquent writer... an affectionate homage to English foibles." —Metro
"An entertaining, clever book. Read it."—Daily Telegraph
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The first thing to grasp in trying to understand a society is that every human culture, and every smaller subculture within it, is governed by rules. Not rules imposed from outside but standards and practices and customs that have evolved from within. We grow up learning those rules without being aware of it. We know what constitutes expected behavior in almost any situation within our own group, and we identify "outsiders" by the fact that they *don't* know the rules. Every Englishman knows he's expected to wait his turn for service, or to board a bus, or to buy a ticket. Queuing is a fundamental part of behavior and no one has to think about it. And that, like so much of the English personality, comes down to a passion for fairness, which underlies everything. An Englishman also hates to stand out, which he accomplishes by continual self-deprecation. (This is a real problem when you have to "sell" yourself to a personnel manager.) And above all, there's humor, of a particularly Eeyorish type. You can't take yourself -- or anything else -- too seriously. Not even in the face of trauma and tragedy.
That's just the tiniest tip of the iceberg, though. Fox approaches her subject in a highly organized and thoroughly scientific fashion. She carries out field tests in bumping into people, to see how many will say "Sorry" for having been the bump-ee (nearly all of them), she asks forbidden personal and serious questions in pub conversations just to see what will happen (horrified looks), and generally accosts strangers and makes herself obnoxious, taking notes all the while. And she admits that this was very, very hard since she's as much a product of her culture as everyone else.
The results divide (though with many overlaps) into chapters on conversation (and the function of meaningless small talk as grooming behavior), how cell phones have changed things, the rules of driving, work and play, dress and food and how class radar works (the U.S. doesn't really have "class" in the traditional English sense), and the social rules of sex and of rites of passage. Her style is both light and serious, leavened with a quirky sense of humor. This is a book to read in small bites and to think about. And it doesn't even matter whether you know any Englishmen yourself.
She stalks her subjects in their native habitats, such as pubs, train stations, at school and work, in their homes, at the race track. She examines their driving behavior, their flirting habits, meeting strangers, talking about the weather, avoiding eye contact, devotion to pets, and more. Much more.
It's all quite fascinating, although the detail could get tedious if Fox didn't employ a typically English sense of humor about the whole thing and throw in ironic and self-deprecating comments throughout.
Two observations stand out for me -- the first is that, along with only Japan among industrial nations, the English are "negatively polite," which means that rather than showing politeness in overt ways, such as saying "hello" to an acquaintance you see in a store, for instance, the English don't say "hello" because you want to give others their privacy as they shop for underwear or whatever. Here, we would surely consider that rude, to ignore an acquaintance in a public place, but in England, it's considerate to assume you'd be intruding by saying hi. The other observation is that the English are typified most accurately, according to Fox, as Eeyore, the morose donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh. "Expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed" is apparently the English way of thinking.
Great fun and even if you don't plan on moving to England, it's essential if you're a big fan of British television. It really explains a lot.
As to their social awkwardness and love for small talk, I once heard a joke: "No wonder the English always talk about the weather. In public, they need to keep a stiff upper lip, chin up, and use a deeper tone of voice. They cannot remember all that, and still have time to think about something meaningful to say..."
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