[UK] Getting the terms straight


Now to some, all of this will seem quite obvious, but frankly, this has never occurred to me until I’ve set foot here. I’ve heard all of these terms used interchangeably to refer to the country here, and to some point, it just got quite confusing. Credits to not paying attention in high school European history *_*. Anyhoo, here’s the lowdown, and may this engrave itself on the back of my brain somewhere:

United Kingdom or UK: short for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  This is the only correct name to call the country or sovereign state that is the UK. It emphasizes the coming together as a nation of: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The southern part of the island of Ireland, as we know, is separately, the Republic of Ireland.

England:, therefore, is 1 out of the 4 main regions of the UK, not a country in itself.

Great Britain: the fact that it is part of the legit term states it’s not the whole of the internationally recognized country. Great Britain comprises of England, Scotland and Wales. It can be understood more of a geographical term referring to the main territory of the UK.

Britain: This dates back to the Roman ages, to include only England and Wales.


My Hanoi-based friend from London preferably refers to himself as a “Brit” or “British”, citing the usage of “English” as somewhat “white-exclusive” and to some point, even “discriminatory”. My Portuguese landlady, however, has referred to her sons-in-law from different parts of the country as English men. But from the geographical lowdown above, to call someone “English” would mean he’s solely from England. And since England is not a country, it would be incorrect to say “English citizenship or nationality”. Calling people from the UK “English people” would also be excluding Welsh, Irish as well as Scottish people, whereas the term “British” encompasses all of these. In the national spirit of the UK, people proudly call themselves “Brits”. In the more regional spirit with some begging to differ that perhaps, their region should even become an entirely separately country, they’ll refer to themselves as English, Irish, Welsh or Scottish respectively.

As a professor has put it down quite bluntly for us yesterday, people of this land are “mongrels to the purest”. “England was invaded by the Anglo-Saxons, and then the Vikings, and then the French Normans”, he said.  “It’d be absurd to think anyone was still ‘English’ in this part of the world”. It becomes quite the interesting psychological, social and political case now how people choose to use these different terms. Definitely a note-down for anyone new to the UK.

In other updates, I’ve almost completed my first week of being here in London, settling in quite well and just loving the vibe. I arrived right in time for enrollment, so it’s been straight into classes (well, intro classes for that matter) since Monday, doing 6-hour lectures everyday. It’s been a rather intense opening, to be honest, sitting in class the whole day, but I’m warming up to the pressure. For one thing, I’m required to keep my blog updated for my course – a savior to my sporadically given attention to the blogosphere.

TGIF! I’m going to Brighton today. Toodles!


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