Friday, December 23, 2005

St. George Is Cross

What is it with the sour grapes whenever England does well? When an English restaurant was voted the best in the world by a prestigious 'foodie' magazine, the French and Italians went off in spasms about it. Our winning the Webb Ellis trophy made France, Wales, Ireland & Scotland collectively shudder as we became the first Northern Hemisphere country to do it.
Now even our winning the vote to host the Olympic Games for 2012 has been called a
"voting error".
God knows what's going to happen when we bring home the World Cup next year.

Grocer Jack's post about being English set me to thinking. It's true that we seem almost apologetic for being who we are. The weight of our history seems to have made us overly PC when in all reality, we have more to be proud of than ashamed of. Why do the Welsh celebrate St. David's day, the Scots St. Andrew's day, the Irish St. Patrick's day yet most English don't even know when St. George's Day is? It's April 23rd, FYI.
My ma told me that when she was a lass, St. George's Day was a day off of school, Church service and all the rest. What happened? Here in Lebanon,
MacDara last year flew in an Irish band to play in the Irish pub he had appropriated for St. Paddy's.

The only time I'm able to flaunt my Englishness is when England are playing an international match of some sort - but, even though the flag sellers here have now started to set up shop in preparation for next year's World Cup, you cannot find a St. George's flag. Every other country under the sun has their flag on sale here except England....what's up with that? Go to the pub here to watch any international football match and you'll find there are Lebanese fans wearing the kit - Italy, Brazil, Germany, France, Spain, you name it, there will be someone wearing it.

Except for England. Only the English will be wearing the England shirts.

Now, it could be argued that it's the quality of our game that puts people off but those same fans wearing other countries' colours are wearing Premier League team shirts in regular season. In reality, it's the skewed perception of what it means to be English.

To quote GJ directly "It isn’t racist to declare your Scots heritage, nor your French, Spanish or whatever. However, being English seems to be associated to neo-nazi, Little Englander, racist thuggery."

Anyway, check out the Witanagemot Club website for more.
It's where the title of this post came from.

Broadly speaking, the Lebanese are multilingual and have no problem conversing in Arabic, French or English, or for that matter, a mix of all three. One thing that really annoys me is when non-Lebanese hear us speaking and automatically assume that we are snobs with no sense of identity. That is not an identity crisis - that is part of being Lebanese.

Words in other languages sometimes convey an idea better than the words in one's own language. Just look at English for examples - what is the English word for façade? Zeitgeist? Chef? Adieu? Cul de sac? Faux pas? Deja vu? There are translations but they are clumsy and never used.

I know some bright spark will chirp up with the fact that hello doesn't need to be said in 3 languages (Hi, kifak? Ça va?) at the same time, but most of the time that has nothing to do with pretence, merely a need to fill up the greeting! In English you can say 'hello' and it's over - in French, a quick 'bonjour' or 'Ça va?' and you're on your way. In Arabic, you're not getting away with that...even the quickest greeting has at least 2 or 3 back-and-forths.
Basing the analysis of an entire population on use of languages is not only lazy but also shortsighted and frankly, offensive.
There, it's out & I feel much better.

Nice to see the Cabinet meeting managed to take place despite the absence of the Shiite MP's.

On that note, I shall take a couple day's leave for obvious reasons and see you (hopefully) on Monday.
Merry Christmas to you all, enjoy your weekend.


MacDara said...

Maybe Desmond but you cant pretend that lots of Lebanese dont wish to be French and couldn't give a toss about being Arabic. I'm French educated .... Well in that case the Irish are the best perople in the world .... Oh yea we are so maybe you are all French Educated.

As Too the St George's Day your right you should celebrate and maybe bring over some East end types to sprak some cockney. You should also have your own Parliment why the fuck should the Welsh and Scots have a say on purely English matters when they dont give you a Say in theirs. After all Is England where the Empire started.

Macdara said...

Happy New year and I hope 2006 is your best yet.


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