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

JamesM

Senior Member
I think I would normally use the names I grew up learning: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland. (I imagine some of these aren't quite countries but they're the divisions I think of when I think of the UK.) I would say London, England, for example, but I've seen London, UK recently and I'm still not quite used to it.

I would use British for the general term but I wouldn't think normally of calling someone from Scotland British. I suppose it's correct but it seems odd to me. They live in the UK but they're always Scottish to me. The same holds true for Northern Ireland. I think of them as Irish, not British, although I imagine they have British passports and would go to the British Embassy if they had a problem.

In political discussions I tend of think of it as the UK because it's one government that is acting.
 
  • L.P. Translator

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I think I would normally use the names I grew up learning: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland. (I imagine some of these aren't quite countries but they're the divisions I think of when I think of the UK.) I would say London, England, for example, but I've seen London, UK recently and I'm still not quite used to it.

    I would use British for the general term but I wouldn't think normally of calling someone from Scotland British. I suppose it's correct but it seems odd to me. They live in the UK but they're always Scottish to me. The same holds true for Northern Ireland. I think of them as Irish, not British, although I imagine they have British passports and would go to the British Embassy if they had a problem.

    In political discussions I tend of think of it as the UK because it's one government that is acting.
    Maybe it's similar to the European Union. Do people in the States say we're "European" or "Italian"?
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I think I would normally use the names I grew up learning: England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Northern Ireland. (I imagine some of these aren't quite countries but they're the divisions I think of when I think of the UK.) I would say London, England, for example, but I've seen London, UK recently and I'm still not quite used to it.

    I would use British for the general term but I wouldn't think normally of calling someone from Scotland British. I suppose it's correct but it seems odd to me. They live in the UK but they're always Scottish to me. The same holds true for Northern Ireland. I think of them as Irish, not British, although I imagine they have British passports and would go to the British Embassy if they had a problem.

    In political discussions I tend of think of it as the UK because it's one government that is acting.
    Even more strangely, in Ireland when people speak of ''Brits'', we think of the English. Scots are simply Scots and the Welsh are simply Welsh.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    l usually say Britain, although strictly speaking this excludes Northern Ireland. I don't say Great Britain except ironically. It sounds pompous and Britain is no longer great. The United Kingdom is a bit of a mouthful. The UK is impersonal. As I don't want to offend the Celts, I say England only when I mean England and nowhere else.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    l usually say Britain, although strictly speaking this excludes Northern Ireland. I don't say Great Britain except ironically. It sounds pompous and Britain is no longer great. The United Kingdom is a bit of a mouthful. The UK is impersonal. As I don't want to offend the Celts, I say England only when I mean England and nowhere else.
    But isn't Britain the island (England / Scotland / Wales) and Great Britain includes Northern Ireland? That's what I was taught, which is not to say that it's correct.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    But isn't Britain the island (England / Scotland / Wales) and Great Britain includes Northern Ireland? That's what I was taught, which is not to say that it's correct.
    No Great Britain is merely another name for the island (dates to 1400 or so) and may well be a borrowing from the French Grande Bretagne (to distinguish from Brittany). The United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland; Great Britain, however, does not, whence the official name of the state: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
     

    Словеса

    Senior Member
    Русский
    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!
    We also say simply Британия, when we are lazy to pronounce Велико- ("Great"). For example, the meme "British scientists" is "британские учёные" (the adjective великобританский does not exist, though). Granted that we usually don't have to discuss England or Britain as wholes in informal contexts. Of course, if someone is knowledgeable enough to know that Maxwell was Scottish, he or she might show that off… but otherwise he is "английский учёный", I am afraid. A question from a crossword (the first result in Google): "how the science is called of whose laws English scientist J. C. Maxwell treated? (15 letters)"…
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    No Great Britain is merely another name for the island (dates to 1400 or so) and may well be a borrowing from the French Grande Bretagne (to distinguish from Brittany). The United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland; Great Britain, however, does not, whence the official name of the state: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    To add too the confusion, the adjective British seems to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom including Northern Island and not just 'Great Britain.'
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    To add too the confusion, the adjective British seems to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom including Northern Island and not just 'Great Britain.'
    Northern Ireland is a complex one, for obvious reasons. But 'British' seems to even apply to places like the Isle of Man, which aren't even part of the UK!
     

    Amapolas

    Senior Member
    Castellano rioplatense
    But 'British' seems to even apply to places like the Isle of Man, which aren't even part of the UK!
    This is very interesting. If you'd asked me, I'd always thought of the Isle of Man as being part of the UK. After your post I went to Wikipedia and learnt it's a 'British Crown Dependency'.

    And now, if Scotland becomes independent, the whole thing's going to become even more complex. I've always thought of British as anything from Great Britian, i.e. the whole of the bigger island. But it was more or less one political unit, once currency, etc.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    The Isle of Man doesn't return an MP to Westminster. The British Isles consist of the mainland of Britain; the whole of the island of Ireland; and the outlying islands. But except in this phrase, British is rarely used in a purely geographical sense.
     

    funnyhat

    Senior Member
    American 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.
    But that may be simply because Americans tend to not use "English" as a national adjective altogether. The word English, over here, tends to be used only in reference to the language (e.g., "English grammar"). People/things from England are almost always called "British." (Conversely, people/things from the other three parts of the UK are often called "Scottish," "Welsh," or "Northern Irish.")

    When it comes to the country itself, any/all of "England," "Britain" and "the UK" may be used. People often aren't certain of the distinction between these terms.
     
    Last edited:

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    Don't worry. We get confused ourselves. For me personally, British is more of a political concept - the British monarchy, the British army etc. Emotionally and culturally, I feel English. We say the river Thames is in England and not in Britain, although I can see why a foreigner would look at it differently. There is English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish literature, but there is no British literature. There is a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, and an Irish Parliament in Belfast. There is no separate English Parliament. Some people think there should be. There has been much discussion recently about teaching children 'British values', whatever they are. Fairness and tolerance, people say, as though foreigners can't be fair-minded and tolerant.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    And until the Second World War, even (or especially) English writers usually referred to the UK as ''England''.

    Back in 1770, William Pitt the Elder commented:

    I have the principles of an Englishman, and I utter them without apprehension or reserve...this is not the language of faction; let it be tried by that criterion, by which alone we can distinguish what is factious, from what is not—by the principles of the English constitution. I have been bred up in these principles, and I know that when the liberty of the subject is invaded, and all redress denied him, resistance is justifiable...the constitution has its political Bible, by which if it be fairly consulted, every political question may, and ought to be determined.
    Funnily enough, at the same time, soon to be rebelling Americans were speaking of their rights under the ''British constitution'' (though they did nevertheless refer to the merit of their claims as ''free Englishmen'').

    Logic, eh.
     

    funnyhat

    Senior Member
    American English
    There is English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish literature, but there is no British literature.
    Interesting. In the United States, "British literature" classes are common at the high school/university level (I took one myself). Obviously they refer only to authors from the UK. In contrast, "English literature" can generally refer to any kind of writing in English.
     

    Bartek_USA

    Banned
    Polish
    I took British literature classes too. I can't imagine why there wouldn't be one if there's such a country.

    In Poland, the full name (The United Kingdom...) is rarely used, only in specific context. We generally refer to the country as Wielka Brytania (Great Britain) but it also depends on the context. Let's take emigration for example. I believe a Polish emigrant is much less likely to say "I'm leaving for Great Britain" than "I'm leaving for [the name of the country: England/Scotland etc.]. Tourists, I believe, are as likely to say "Great Britain" as "England, Scotland, etc".
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Don't worry. We get confused ourselves. For me personally, British is more of a political concept - the British monarchy, the British army etc. Emotionally and culturally, I feel English. We say the river Thames is in England and not in Britain, although I can see why a foreigner would look at it differently. There is English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish literature, but there is no British literature. There is a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, and an Irish Parliament in Belfast. There is no separate English Parliament. Some people think there should be. There has been much discussion recently about teaching children 'British values', whatever they are. Fairness and tolerance, people say, as though foreigners can't be fair-minded and tolerant.
    Welsh and Irish literature can refer to literature in those respective languages. And the elected body in Belfast is called the Northern Ireland Assembly (don't think "Irish Parliament" would be a popular name with Unionists).
     

    Dandee

    Senior Member
    Argentina, español
    In my country, most of the people say "England", because they do not know the difference between England and UK.
     

    Naohiro

    Member
    Bilingual - English and Chinese (普通)
    I spent a lot of my childhood in Singapore (a former British colony) where English is widely used. Funnily enough, most people, not just the media, say "the UK" on first instinct. Singaporeans rarely ever say the full "United Kingdom" for cultural reasons (they prefer to use abbreviations). "Great Britain" or "Britain" is rarely used, except when referring to the accent from that region ("British accent"). "England" is almost never used unless one is referring to the football team.

    In China, almost everyone, including the media, say 英国. It means something like the English Kingdom. The next most popular term is 英格兰 (England). I have seen some media outlets use 联合王国 (United Kingdom) but I have rarely heard it in speech. 'Britain' is literally never used.
     

    vianie

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    I could notice that many younger Slovaks (born in 1970+) already call the UK simply UK (spelled oo kah), very probably also due to the tens of thousands Slovaks working there.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    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?
    Personally as a Flemish person I say England. As for the press & Media, I would have to check.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Most people I meet in Greece have a hazy idea of the difference between, England, Great Britain, and the UK. Most of them are also rather derisive of the "Great" in GB, as they think it reveals delusions of grandeur.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Official name of the country: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    Unofficial/shorthand names for the country: The United Kingdom, The UK, UK, Great Britain, GB, Britain.
    Adjective, official and unofficial: British.
     

    Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    Between GB and UK

    That England is only part of that, that I knew. But the term is used as pars pro toto
    You have already quoted the difference. Great Britain excludes Northern Ireland.

    Most people use the terms wrong in Germany, e.g. in the news you can hear about "elections in Great Britain". Despite Nortern Ireland also votes.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    Official name of the country: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    Unofficial/shorthand names for the country: The United Kingdom, The UK, UK, Great Britain, GB, Britain.
    Adjective, official and unofficial: British.
    I posted already the official name that nobody uses. #75

    The question was how people over the world call The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    In Great parts it's referred to as England. Which you don't even mention as unofficial. Which is quite natural for English because it's too regional.

    England to foreigners= a frequently used term pars pro toto. Not so for the English.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I posted already the official name that nobody uses. #75
    People do use it, in official circumstances.
    In Great parts it's referred to as England.
    :confused::confused: I don't know what you mean.
    you don't even mention [England] as unofficial. Which is quite natural for English because it's too regional.
    I don't mention it as an unofficial name for the country because it isn't one. It's not that it's 'too regional': it's just plain wrong.
    England is the name of England.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    People do use it, in official circumstances.
    OK. Few people. Officials.
    :confused::confused: I don't know what you mean.
    OK: In parts of the world. Perhaps I exaggerated by saying: great parts (of the world).

    I don't mention it as an unofficial name for the country because it isn't one. It's not that it's 'too regional': it's just plain wrong.
    England is the name of England.
    The use of England is widespread. Those who use it don't care it's wrong, many don't even know it's wrong, it's just a(n old) habit. There are a few examples in this thread. England rules the waves: is that England? In written communication, on forums, emails etc, I use UK.
    In speach I dare to use England, English, meaning Britain, Brits, Britons. Are you English? Meaning Briton.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    Official name of the country: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    Unofficial/shorthand names for the country: The United Kingdom, The UK, UK, Great Britain, GB, Britain.
    Adjective, official and unofficial: British.
    So The United Kingdom, The UK, UK, Great Britain, GB, Britain always includes N.Ireland. ? If that's so, what's the term for the island as a whole? I suppose: England?

    Is there a difference between The British and the Britons?

    What-who are "The English" precisely?

     
    Last edited:

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The right-hand island is called Great Britain ~ not Britain or England/Wales/Scotland ... or anything else.
    The left-hand island is called Ireland, quite often the island of Ireland when you need to be specific.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    OK but it's a fact that amongst foreigners it's quite common to refer to the big island as England.
    Is there a difference between the Brits, the British and the Britons?

    What-who are "The English" precisely?
    I see all these terms used, I suppose the Brits & the British & The Britons is all right, while the English is a commonly used pars pro toto, in the foreign media and amongst foreigners , that is to be avoided?
     
    Last edited:

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    The island has never been called England. England is used as shorthand for the UK in most European languages in the same way Russia was used interchangeably with the USSR or Soviet Union. British writers (of the non-Scottish variety) and journalists (notably George Orwell and Bertrand Russell) generally followed this convention too until WWII, whereupon it fell out of fashion.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    For decades my daughter has been crossing over regularly by ferry, perhaps now by train, we always spoke of it as going to England, shopping in England. Long after WWII I myself worked between England and the continent as a guide for English tourists. In the company we spoke of it as England. But perhaps there's a bit of confusion here because we don't say England/Inglish but Engeland/Engelsen, just as the Spanish don't say England/English but Inglaterra/Inglés in their OWN language as a generic term . Hence England. The back-translation doesn't carry the same genericness. I'll have a look in Ngram for
    frequencies Inglaterra/ Gran Bretaña (no Dutch available):
    Inglaterra is used 250% more than Gran Bretaña.
    Inglés is used 500% more than británico.





     

    Attachments

    Last edited:

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    As I said in most European languages, this tends to be the case (that said, I doubt anyone would say "I'm going to Edinburgh in England", whatever their language). In any case, using "England'' in reference to the UK or Great Britain (the island) is wrong.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    That doesn't indicate that most French speakers refer to the island as "England". One would have to be very dim-witted indeed to not know that Wales, Scotland and indeed Ireland exist.
     

    funnyhat

    Senior Member
    American English
    As I said in most European languages, this tends to be the case (that said, I doubt anyone would say "I'm going to Edinburgh in England", whatever their language). In any case, using "England'' in reference to the UK or Great Britain (the island) is wrong.
    I have, in fact, heard people mention Edinburgh and Glasgow when speaking of cities in "northern England." They may be aware that these two cities are in Scotland, but may not understand that Scotland is not part of England - it's part of the UK.

    The issue is not so much that people aren't aware of the existence of Scotland/Wales/Ireland, but that they don't understand the political relationship (or lack thereof, in the Republic of Ireland's case) between them and England.

    The fact that the British nations compete separately in some sports probably just confuses things further.
     
    Last edited:

    Gravos

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    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.
    Reading this earlier post I would explain this by the old rivalry history France has with "les Anglais" ! In medieval history the enemy of France has always been England - and only England! - especially on the Joan of Arch period in the collective psyche. All along the wars and historical rivalries France had with England, "les Anglais" were always seen as the enemy, until WW2 where they suddenly became officially "Les forces Britanniques" regarding the 1944 liberation... :)
    All in all when Chirac says "les Anglais" that would always be followed by a jibe, and implying a slice of disdain.

    That said, the enemy of my enemy being my friend, when French speak about the Scottish, Welsh and Irish, they hardly never imply any pejorative meaning at the same level as they do for "Les Anglais", as we have more historical friendship stories with those nations. Old rivalry can still be seen within the 6 nations rugby tournament where for the French, whatever the skill of the teams are at the moment, the most important match to win is always versus England (that France loses most of the time by the way)!
     

    Wadi Hanifa

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Unless it's an official (legal or diplomatic) document, most Arabs refer to the UK as briTaania. In my experience, people here are well aware of the distinction between England and the other nations of the UK, but occasionally the adjective Ingliiz is used to refer to "the British" because people often assume that the UK is led by the English.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    @eno2: De makkelijkste manier om het te onthouden is als volgt:
    Groot-Brittannië bestaat uit twee eilanden en omvat twee landen: Ierland en het Verenigd Koninkrijk.
    Het Verenigd Koninkrijk is één land en bestaat uit anderhalf eiland.

    Groot-Brittanië = Verenigd Koninkrijk + Ierland
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    @eno2: De makkelijkste manier om het te onthouden is als volgt:
    Groot-Brittannië bestaat uit twee eilanden en omvat twee landen: Ierland en het Verenigd Koninkrijk.
    Het Verenigd Koninkrijk is één land en bestaat uit anderhalf eiland.

    Groot-Brittanië = Verenigd Koninkrijk + Ierland
    Eh?

    Groot-Brittanië bestaat uit één eiland (England, Schottland en Wales)
    't Verenigd Koninkrijk = Groot-Britannië + Noord Ierland

    Verenigd Koninkrijk + Republiek Ierland = Britse Eilanden
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top