"rough" islanders

Liao Wendi

Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese

Again a sentence by Max Beerbohm that confuses me.

To speak French fluently and idiomatically and with a good accent--or with an idiom and accent which to other rough islanders seemed good--was a rather suspect accomplishment, being somehow deemed incompatible with civic worth.
What does the word "rough" mean here? (I just cannot find out the appropriate one from the too many definitions in a dictionary!!)

And by the way, could anyone give me a "more modern" equivalent for the term "civic worth"?

Thanks in advance!
  • Trisia

    Senior Member
    My take:

    rough islanders: having harsh, coarse manners
    civic worth: he who spoke good French was a bit suspect of being less than a honourable citizen of England (it was a rather unpatriotic thing to do).

    EDIT: On second thought, Carrie's explanation of "rough" is better.


    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The intent of the whole phrase, however, is to say that the accent would seem "good" to other Brits--thought not necessarily to the French. Thus, having a good French accent, even if only by British standards, would be seen as suspiciously un-British. (Or is it redundant to call something both un-British and suspicious?)
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