Do you call the UK the 'United Kingdom' in your country/language?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by invictaspirit, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    I was debating with another member the variety of ways of naming the UK around the world. Most people in everyday situations and conversations still frequently refer to the UK as 'England'. Do you? And what does your country's news media do? For example, the Spanish media are usually very correct in referring to the Reino Unido. But not many Spanish people would say that in normal conversation, in my experience.

    What name is most common in the press and on TV?
  2. LouisaB Senior Member

    English, UK
    I would personally say 'England', and my brother-in-law, who is from Edinburgh would unhesitatingly say 'Scotland'.

    However, the general rule at the BBC (where I used to work) is to say 'Britain', and 'British' wherever possible in order to encourage unity. Thus '3 British casualties in a plane crash' even if all of them were from England.

    I do, however, say I'm from 'the UK' when the people I'm speaking to may include those less familiar with our geographical and political complexities. That's what I've said in my profile for this forum, for instance....!

  3. Grekh

    Grekh Senior Member

    León, México
    Spanish, Mexico
    En México se utiliza más Inglaterra, pero también es común oír decir "Reino Unido"
  4. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    Inglaterra is what is normally used in Brazil, but if one wants to be (and knows how to be politically correct), he'll say Reino Unido.
  5. Life

    Life Senior Member

    Castellano porteño
    I say Reino Unido or Las islas británicas or Gran bretaña (if I'm excluding Ireland). But most people say Inglaterra, and some aren't even aware of the existence of a country called Wales.
    I think the media use Reino Unido, and británicos when referring to the people.
  6. Tsoman Banned

    New York
    English -- US
    Most people here prefer to say "Britain" or "England" instead of saying "United Kingdom"
  7. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    The Media refers to Britian as بريطانيا (Britania).
    I think that most people here use either Britain or England when thinking of or referring to the British Islands.
  8. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I can't comment on the media as I try as hard as I can to avoid them.
    Everybody I know is well aware of the differences between England and Wales and Scotland and The United Kingdom is seldom used. We would never dream of confusing Ireland with any of the preceeding terms.

  9. maxiogee Banned

    Irish tends to refer to it as Britain.
    I just had a look at my old (1959) English/Irish dictionary and found that it wasn't listed as a derivative at United, which gave United States and United Nations, but it did manage to get in as a derivative of Kingdom.
  10. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russia, we usually call the country Великобритания (Great Britain) or even Англия (England). I suspect that for an average Russian there's hardly any difference between Great Britain and England - sorry, dear English!
    However, Соединенное Королевство (United Kingdom) is also used, and it was only yesterday that I came over the use of this name in a translation of Sabatini's novel. But it sounds pretty formal.
  11. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    It's "sorry dear Welsh and Scottish". :) I am English and if you call all of GB England that's fine by me. ;) Hehe...but no, it isn't really fine. I'm standing up for the other Brits.

    Of course, all of this is our fault for having a confusing name and complex nation. It interests me because some countries are (in an official and media sense) very correct and seem to think about it more. Most North Europeans, for example. Also Spain. The worst is France, where Scotland and Wales are very frequently ignored by the French president, government and often the media too. You certainly see Royaume Uni in the French press, as well as britannique. It's not as if they don't do it. But the French are the most likely to slip back into using the word anglais. Chirac, for example, does it all the time, and frequently talks about the gouvernement anglais.
  12. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    Sure, but in my experience the US media get it right. You never hear of the 'English government' or the 'English military did yadda yadda in Afghanistan' in the US media. I'd say the US media was one of the best in this respect. It's always 'British', 'UK' etc.
  13. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Interestingly enogh, for some reasons it's британское посольство (British embassy), Британский совет (British council), британский характер (British character), but английская королева (English queen).

  14. It is used in political coverage as well. And it is becoming more and more popular, probably due to the growing number of direct contacts between the RF and the UK.

    I have always been living abroad and for the first 20 years of my life I would undoubtedly refer to my motherland as "Britain" and myself as "British". However, in the more recent years I have been either saying "the UK" or even been hesitant about what to say:). My, do I now have the right to call myself British? That`s an interesting idea, by the way.
    Etcetera is quite right. In Russia anything or anyone British is often directly assumed to be English. I have even seen my own name often mentioned as that of "an English demographer", assumed to be such upon the mere mention of Oxford University. But, in fact, I could be anybody!

  15. Yes, the subtle reflection of the peculiarity of perceptions on behalf of other nations.

    The publishers were quite surprised when I stubbornly kept referring to her as "королева Великобритании" in my articles. But it is only quite natural that they should not be acquainted with these sensitivities. Come, she is in reality German anyway!:D
  16. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finnish we say most often England. (Great) Britain comes far behind and United Kingdom is quite rare. I googled the Finnish names:

    Englanti: 4,5 million hits
    Iso-Britannia: 1,070,000 hits (plus about 100,000 for Britannia)
    Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta: 300,000 hits

    United Kingdom is practically never used in everyday talk.
  17. Lusitania Senior Member

    Portugal Portuguese
    In Portugal it's common to hear Grã-Bretanha and Inglaterra but also Reino Unido.
  18. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    There are very few 'rules' to this. :) You know how we like to keep you foreigners guessing. ;)

    I would say the following could be treated as hard and fast rules:

    1. Institutions that are clearly centralised, national and equally govern all parts of the UK should be called 'British'. Therefore: British embassy, British government, British Army, British TV networks, British monarchy, the British telephone system etc etc In other words, anything that is shared and is the same in the Shetland Islands or Cornwall is correctly called British.

    2. Companies and corporations, as above, tend to have an all-UK if not global reach, therefore it is more often correct to speak of British companies. The Royal Bank of Scotland, for example, is headquartered in Scotland, but is a huge presence all over the UK and beyond and is listed in London. It is therefore not really correct to call it a Scottish company.

    3. In a strictly political/diplomatic sense, citizens are only ever British. The passport is the same whether or not you live in England, Wales, Scotland or NI. The official nationality and citizenship are British only.

    4. In foreign relations and diplomacy, the word British should always be used. It is the UK that is a member of the EU, UN, NATO, G8 etc etc. England, Scotland etc have no seperate diplomatic representation.

    5. There is absolutely no such thing as a 'British accent'. The speech and pronunciation of Scots is as different from that of Londoners as is Standard American. There isn't even such a thing as an 'English accent' either. Accents of English within England are radically and substantially different from one another. We can talk with some degree of accuracy about BrE as distinct from other variants of English in terms of grammar and often vocabulary. But when it comes to accents and phonetics it is just plain wrong.

    Grey areas that are open to interpretation and debate:

    1. I would never say 'British weather' or 'British climate'. It varies too much over the 1000 plus km. I live in the extreme south-east of England and it would be fair to say the climate here is totally different to the North of Scotland. It is much sunnier, much drier and much warmer and can not be compared, really.

    2. The hard part that confuses non-Brits the most. My passport says 'British Citizen' under Nationality. But if you ask me where I am from, I will always say England and always describe myself as English. That is a matter of choice which we all exercise. It's because I identify more with the idea of England than of all of the UK. I don't renounce, dislike or reject my official staus as a Briton or British's just that I feel Englishness is about identity and culture and Britishness is about the state, government, officialdom. Millions and millions of Brits feel the same way and go around the world confusing people by telling them that they are English or Scottish or whatever and then saying that they are also British.

    3. It's pretty difficult to speak of 'the British character'. Stereotypically, Scots, English and Welsh are totally different in character. I think there are cultural and social links of course...there are characteristics that we all share...but there are others that divide us greatly.

    4. You can't talk of 'British Literature' in an historical sense, in my view. Many aspects of the literature of the constituent nations of the UK are totally independent of each other and are entirely about, of and regarding one particular British nation.

    5. Culture is a really grey area. All of the UK watches more or less the same TV output, listens to the same music, reads the same best-seller novels. Comedians, bands, art exhibitions, circuses, plays, operas tour the whole UK. Therefore, there is a great deal that is shared and therefore 'British'. Overlaying that are large chunks of culture and ways of doing things that are specifically Welsh or English or Scottish. When thinking about '80s music, you could argue with some validity that The Jam were an English band and Duran Duran were a British one, yet both bands come from England. Their style, preoccupations, lyrics etc might affect a perception of their identity.

    These things tend to be flexible and changeable. I use the adjective English a lot, and often talk of 'the English' or 'English people' but I'm usually only thinking of England when I do that. Whenever I go to Scotland, I am always struck by the differences there and it often feels like another country. I'm not always happy speaking on behalf of Scots by blanekt use of the term 'British' or 'Brits' when describing habits and so on.

    People will disagree with some of the above, which of course is why it's all so confusing. :)
  19. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Germans say "England" in everyday life, even if almost everyone is aware it should be "Großbritannien". Officially and in the news it is called "Großbritannien".

  20. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    In Spain, the common terms are either "Gran Bretaña" or "Inglaterra". "Reino Unido" is used only in media and for formal uses. Spain has had political and economic relation mostly with England from the Middle Ages. Our relation with Scotland has been only as a part of UK, so UK has "inherited" the term for England (Inglaterra).
  21. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Thank you for your post, Invictaspirit.

    About British monarchy. I've thought for a couple of minute, but I could hardly remember seeing anything like британская монархия - it's always английская монархия. It's really odd.

    We sometimes speak about английское произношение (the English pronunciation), by which we mean RP. I guess calling RP so is, well, a bit incorrect. :)

    Here I agree completely. I myself am a future specialist in English literature. Moreover, my speciality is called "The English language, literature and culture". Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Welsh are considered to be absolutely separate issues.
    (I'm not sure about how to put the last idea correctly. Please tell me if there's some more 'English' ;) way to say it).
  22. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Are you sure they all feel the same way? Is Britishness never ever about culture, values, identity? What if you ask an Englishman "are you British?"
    I did. He smiled and answered humouroulsy "I try to be".
    Actually, I don't know why I didn't ask "are you English?". I realized only afterwards that, thus worded, my question was a bit silly.
    I interpreted his answer as meaning something like "It's an ideal I'm trying to reach", but with a good deal of irony in it.

    Now for the main question. In France, it's true that we mostly say "l'Angleterre". The journalists sometimes use "Le Royaume Uni".

    However, if we're going somewhere in the British Isles (on holidays, for example), we do say "Je vais en Ecosse/en Irlande". But you rarely hear people here say "Je vais au Pays de Galles". Now, I couldn't say whether it's because they confuse Wales with England or because they never go to Wales.
  23. lampiao Senior Member

    As Lusitania has said, it is common to hear "Reino Unido" (UK) and "Grã-Bretanha" (GB), mostly on the media.
    The common people, however, will most often say "Inglaterra" or "Inglês" even though there is a pretty good awareness of the existance of Wales and Scotland, their differences, and roughly their location. I believe that most people would not confuse Edinbourgh, Glasgow or Cardiff for English cities.
    I confess I often use England where UK or Britain should be applied.
    That's pretty much the same with Holland and the Netherlands. In portuguese the country's name is Holanda, even though Holland is just a part of the Netherlands... Hardly ever is that country refered to as "Países Baixos".
  24. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    No, of course they don't all feel the same way. That was the point of my post, but maybe I wasn't too clear. My 'millions and millions' feel the way I said is not a metaphor for all. Many millions identify most with Britishness, many millions identify more with their 'home nation' instead, some of us identify equally with both. They're always doing polls about this and the results vary...I wouldn't bother to quote percentages to you. It's something that is personal, maleable and flexible.

    I'm not sure precisely what your Englishman meant. :) Sounds like a joke/irony, as you suggest, along the lines you suggest.
  25. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    For Finnish, see #16.

    The official name "Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta" would be too long for everyday use. And we can't use abbreviations, neither UK (confusion with our former president called UKK) nor YK (means United Nations in Finnish).
  26. don maico

    don maico Senior Member

    UK English /Spanish
    I n deference to the Scots Welsh and Northern Irish you should say United Kingdom ( or UK for short will suffice)as they really dont like being confused for the English - they are really quite proud of their seperate identity far more so than the English who for centuries have hidden their Englishness beneath the cloak of Britishness, although in more recent imes we have seen a steady rise of rather more English nationalsitic sentiments which are rather worrying.I think of myself as first an Englishman and then a Brit and the Union flag is my flag( despite the avatar:D )
    Would the Spanish say britanicos?
  27. don maico

    don maico Senior Member

    UK English /Spanish
    The Argentines refer to las invasiones inglesas when in fact they should've been called las invasiones britanicas given that Beresford and many under his command were Irish( as well as Welsh and Scottish)
  28. Lusitania Senior Member

    Portugal Portuguese
    In Portugal, we never say "britânicos" for british, usually only in the media. We always say "ingleses" as english.
  29. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    In Dutch
    In an 'official context' it's Verenigd Koninkrijk (United Kingdom) or Groot- Brittannië.I think most people are aware of the differences between Engeland, Wales, Schotland and Noord-Ierland, but once in a while, rather rarely, one uses Engeland for all of them. Just an impression, but I guess the awareness of the differences has a bit to do with the popularity of (international) soccer competitions over here :).


  30. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I wouldn't say "United Kingdom" if it means we are associated with those Kilty-Scots, Drunken Irish and the Smelly Welsh:p

    Just kidding, I wouldn't say "United Kingdom" because it's a bit pretentious to me, I like "England", though I would say "Britian" in some cases, ones that I can't really think of now I just know I would.

    I think it'd be nice if we all called it the United Kingdom more often.
    It annoys me when people make sure a big deal about England being different from Scotland (about Gordon Brown not being an English Patriot) etc.
  31. maxiogee Banned

    Probably because a brass plate engraved with "The embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" would probably be too wide to fit on the door. ;)

    And yet most people would lump Robert Burns, George Bernard Shaw and Dylan Thomas in with William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer under the heading of English Literature - subsuming nationality into language!

    Speaking of passports
    What does that say about the status of Northern Ireland? It would appear that as it is not a constituent part of the "Great Britain" entity, but is a constituent part of the "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" it is being 'lost' in the pre-1800 Act of Union name for the state.

    You may not know that the Irish for England is Sasana, and the Irish for English (as in a person) is Sasanach. I believe the Scots-Gaelic uses similar terms. They are derived from "Saxon" and indicates the fact that the Celtic peoples saw the Angles, Jutes, Saxons et al as a different sort of creature from the British - we call Wales An Bhreatain Bheag - "the little Britain" and Welsh is Breathnach. That is interesting, as we use the same word for the name of a person - John Walsh (pronounced "Welsh" in many areas, and spelt that way in others) would be Séan Breathnach. There was clearly a distinction between the residents of England - whom the Celts must have had a word for in pre-A,J&S times - and the residents of Britain - An Bhreatain Mhór.
    None of this can be discussed without mentioning that the Irish for Brittany is An Bhriotáin - and the real kicker is that Briotánach is Breton while Briotanach is Briton — just the length of the first 'a' distinguishes them.
    (Okay, bernik, time for you to throw in your couple of cents worth ;)

    The Scots and Scotland really throw a spanner in the works, being Albanach and Albain respectively. Now, if those aren't references to perfidious Albion and which probably derives (according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable) from the white cliffs facing Gaul, or which could possibly have been the name for England in Celtic. I'm always unsure, but I think a probably beats a possibly (unless this is seven-card stud linguistics) in most instances.
  32. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I disagree. Although it's common to use "inglês" for British, you also hear "britânico" a lot, even outside the media. Well, at least in more careful speech.
  33. invictaspirit Senior Member

    Kent, SE England
    English English
    Who would, maxi? After half a lifetime of studying and teaching literature I have never heard anyone make such a clunk-headed mistake. Any Englishman with the most rudimentary schooling in literature would recognise Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English literature there.

    'Tis true that in the GCSE and A-Level subject English Literature one will find a few Americans, Irishmen and Scots to study, depending on the syllabus and school. However, the 'English' is a reference to the language, not the nationality or origin of the literature itself. Perhaps we should call it Literature in English.

    Thanks, by the way, for your long post, which was interesting.
  34. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    You may even find an Aussie or two lumped in with the rest.
    Perhaps we should refer to it as Literature in English but we don't. We call it English Literature and we understand that we are talking about the language not the nationality of the literature.

  35. Chazzwozzer

    Chazzwozzer Senior Member

    People normally call UK as "İngiltere" in Turkish. Even in media, they almost never use its right name: "Birleşik Krallık" (United Kingdom)

    I don't even think most people are aware of the difference.
  36. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    I live in the UK but I don't think I actually say it unless I am referring to nationality - I am a UK passport holder. I might say Britain if I meant the bit that goes from John O Groats to Lands End but generally I find myself talking about here or there!
  37. ps139

    ps139 Senior Member

    USA, English
    I think I would say UK (location) or British (adjective) if I knew it was a UK-governmental sort of operation. Like, "British police stopped terrorists at the airport" or "UK police..." etc.

    If something happens in England, Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales... I would probably just say the name of the country.

    Of course, this is what I am thinking now. Who knows what I actually sound like when I speak... :)
  38. Словеса Senior Member

    Well, British monarchy is English, is it not? It is hard history that England ruled in the state, so of course over history we got used to the term "королева английская" (as opposed to "королева шотландская", for example). It sounds like "королева Великобритании" might as well not exist: why would they need a queen if they have a prime minister! :D
  39. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    Hungarian nouns:
    United Kingdom = Egyesült Királyság,
    Great Britain = Nagybritannia,
    England = Anglia.

    Hungarian adjectives:
    British = brit,
    English = angol,
    Anglo-Saxon = angolszász.

    The queen is the "angol királynő".
  40. germanbz Senior Member

    Benicàssim - Castelló - Spain
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    I agree with Fernando. I'd just add about that "generalisation" that in Spain, it is usual when people talk about the whole country but not a particullar destination. For example, if you don't know in which part of the UK is someone it's usual to say. "He's in England". But whether you know the town, and it is a well known town as Edimburg, people usually use "Scotland". It's strange to hear somebody saying "he's in England, exactly in Edimburg".
  41. Perseas Senior Member

    When Greek people refer to British MPs or the Queen, they usually call them "English". In contrary, the most common name in the press or on TV is "British". Probably, "η βασίλισσα της Αγγλίας" (translation: "the Queen of England") is more common even in the press.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  42. Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    She's known simply as the Queen or the Queen of England in Ireland. I've never heard anyone, even in Britain, speak of the ''Queen of the United Kingdom''.
  43. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Even on her website she is only called

    Her Majesty the Queen, while the others have their assigned territories mentioned - The Prince of Wales, etc.

    In case somebody is interested:

    In Germany she is often simply called "The Queen" - in English. While all other Queens would be "Königin x".
  44. lingpil Senior Member

    German & Russian
    If she was the Queen of Great Britain or the United Kingdom she would be Elizabeth I. ;) Her first namesakes ruled the country when it actually was named England. And since the counting of the monarchs didn't start from zero after 1707 (or 1708?) it's absolutely appropriate to talk about the kings and queens of England. In German news however I often hear "Britische Königin" which is for me totaly wrong.
  45. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Elizabeth I was styled “By the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.” Elizabeth II is officially “By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”, with no mention of England at all. The style changes with almost every monarch, but they are regarded as belonging to the same series of rulers; thus the numbering.
  46. lingpil Senior Member

    German & Russian
    That's what I intended to say, I just couldn't express myself well enough. Since it's the same line of rulers it's natural to refer to the historical roots of this tradition.
  47. Amapolas

    Amapolas Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Castellano rioplatense
    In Argentina, I'd say the media usually say Reino Unido or Gran Bretaña. However, in everyday language, "in the street" as it were, people say Inglaterra (England).
  48. Minnie121728

    Minnie121728 Senior Member

    Santo Domingo
    Britanicos/ Ingleses.
  49. L.P. Translator

    L.P. Translator Senior Member

    In Italy we often use "Inghilterra (England)" - unless we are talking to someone who knows British history and likes to point out the difference. A different story for TV and newspapers though - you'll hear talking about UK fairly often then.

    I, for example, use both terms to refer solely to England. When talking about Ireland and Scotland I usually say "Ireland and Scotland" because not everyone knows British geography and also because we are just used that way... you'll rarely hear someone say "Belfast, United Kingdom" - but I may be wrong, that in fact could be my experience only and be not true in another part of Italy. I myself rarely refer to Belfast as a city from the United Kingdom rather than Ireland.

    The Union Jack, for most Italians, is the English flag.

    I hope you find this helpful,
  50. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    We say Great Britain or England. Few would use UK in my country.

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