Britain = She

I just read the following sentence:

“If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea,” said the country's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “then she must always choose the open sea."


And checking the definitions for "she" I discovered that it can be used as an affectionate term for a ship. Is Churchill making a metaphor between Britain and a ship, then?

Thanks in advance
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I just read the following sentence:

    “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea,” said the country's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “then she must always choose the open sea."


    And checking the definitions for "she" I discovered that it can be used as an affectionate term for a ship. Is Churchill making a metaphor between Britain and a ship, then?
    The metaphor existed well before Churchill. Back to Plato, actually.

    See: Take the helm

    We also have this extensive existing discussion: She: when referring to countries
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I just read the following sentence:

    “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea,” said the country's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “then she must always choose the open sea."


    And checking the definitions for "she" I discovered that it can be used as an affectionate term for a ship. Is Churchill making a metaphor between Britain and a ship, then?

    Thanks in advance
    He does seem to be, yes. Although one can also use 'she' of a country without it being a ship metaphor. For example:

    'Britain came under violent and sustained attack during WW2, but she pulled through with her traditional stiff upper lip.'

    It sounds rather old fashioned to say that now, not so much because of the grammar, but because being openly and jingoistically patriotic is itself old-fashioned in the UK.
     
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