What is it really like to be British?

Negli anni, il carattere britannico è stato presentato al mondo in tutte le salse: nella letteratura, nell’arte, al teatro, al cinema; sia dagli inglesi stessi che da tante altre nazioni, tutti pronti a contribuire alla creazione di questo simpatico stereotipo. È un passatempo che diverte e che fa divertire. Ma cosa passa veramente per la testa di un inglese (stereotipato) quando si trova a dover interagire con altri membri della comunità?

What is it really like to be British?

• Worrying that you may have accidentally packed £100,000 worth of counterfeit notes and a kalashnikov in your suitcase as you pass through “nothing to declare” in customs.

• Being unable to stand and leave a room without first saying “right”.

• Not understanding for the third time what someone is saying to you, so just laughing and hoping for the best.

• Saying “anywhere here will be fine” when the taxi is directly outside your front door.

• Being sure to start touching your bag 15 minutes before you arrive at your train station, so the person in the aisle seat is fully prepared for your exit.

• Repeatedly pressing the door button on the train before it’s illuminated, to assure your fellow commuters that you have the situation in hand.

• Having someone sit down next to you on the train, meaning you’ll have to eat your crisps at home.

• The huge sense of relief after your perfectly valid train ticket is accepted by the inspector.

• The horror of someone you only half know saying: “Oh I’m getting that train too”.

• “Sorry, is anyone sitting here?” – Translation: Unless this bag is actually a person, I suggest you move it.

Looking away so sharply as someone enters their PIN that you accidentally dislocate your neck.

• Waiting for permission to leave after paying for something with the exact change.

• Saying hello to a friend in the supermarket, then creeping around like a burglar to avoid seeing them again.

• Watching with quiet sorrow as you receive a different haircut to the one you requested.

• Being unable to pay for something with the exact change without saying “I think that’s right”.

Overtaking someone on foot and having to keep up the uncomfortably fast pace until safely over the horizon.

• Being unable to turn and walk in the opposite direction without first taking out your phone and frowning at it.

• Considering it necessary to do a little jog over zebra crossings, while throwing in an apologetic mini-wave.

• Punishing people who don’t say thank you by saying “you’re welcome” as quietly as possible.

• The overwhelming sorrow of finding a cup of tea that you had forgotten about.

Turning down a cup of tea for no reason and instantly knowing you’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake.

• “You’ll have to excuse the mess” – Translation: I’ve spent seven hours tidying in preparation for your visit.

• Indicating that you want the last roast potato by trying to convince everyone else to take it.

Mishearing somebody’s name on the second time of asking, meaning you must now avoid them forever.

• Leaving it too late to correct someone, meaning you must live with your new name forever.

• Staring at your phone in silent horror until the unknown number stops ringing.

• Hearing a recording of your own voice and deciding it’s perhaps best never to speak again.

• The relief when someone doesn’t answer their phone after three rings and you can hang up.

• Filming an entire fireworks display on your phone, knowing full well you’ll never, ever watch it again.


What’s Venus like?

Com’è Venere?

Capita, prima o poi, di volere o di dovere chiedere una descrizione di qualcuno o di qualcosa: com’è la tua nuova casa? com’è il direttore? com’era il film? com’era la tua infanzia? come sarà il futuro? Normalmente in inglese si traduce il pronome interrogativo come con how, ma nel caso di una domanda che richiede una descrizione, come quelle appena elencate, il pronome interrogativo how non è sempre la scelta migliore, anzi, spesso non lo è affatto.

Il problema nasce dal fatto che per chiedere una descrizione, il pronome interrogativo how viene abbinato al verbo to be e questa combinazione è già strausata in inglese, soprattutto nel tempo presente, per quelle domande che riguardano la salute: how are you? how’s your mother? how are your children? Di conseguenza, se faccio la domanda, “How is your new house?” la consuetudine fa interpretare la domanda, “Come sta la tua nuova casa?” Ovviamente la logica subentra quasi subito e raddrizza l’interpretazione, ma si è già giocata l’immediatezza del dialogo e questo non è mai una cosa buona. Allora come si può evitare questa inconvenienza, questo effimero equivoco? Semplicemente utilizzando un’altra formula, la formula:

WHAT + TO BE + SOGGETTO + LIKE?
(in questo caso like non è il verbo piacere ma la preposizione come)

Con questa formula possiamo chiedere una descrizione di qualsiasi genere e in qualsiasi tempo. Vediamo subito alcuni esempi partendo proprio dalle domande elencate all’inizio dell’articolo:

  • Whats your new house like?
  • Com’è la tua nuova casa?
  • Whats the boss like?
  • Com’è il direttore?
  • What was the film like?
  • Com’era il film?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • Com’era la tua infanzia?
  • What will the future be like?
  • Come sarà il futuro?

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