So, what do the Germans think about Englishmen?
The UK might possibly be the nation that Germans have the most prejudices about. We either see the British as suit-wearing gentlemen with umbrellas and leather suitcases, or as beer drinking, violent hooligans. Looking at it from the other side, I assume that the British at least have just as many prejudices against Germans: beer-drinking (at least we have something in common!), sausage-eating, white-socks-in-sandals-people who speak an ugly-sounding language. I find this interesting, as the Germans and British share the same cultural and linguistic roots – they are family, if you will. Maybe that’s why there are so many prejudices, as people often don’t like in others what they see in themselves. From a German perspective at least, here are some of the most common German prejudices against the British – and thus, (possibly) what Germans don’t like about themselves:
1) British food is bland
Germans are under the impression that the British eat only bacon and eggs for breakfast, and fish and chips the rest of the day – sans salt or pepper. In their defense though, it’s quite improbable that they could have survived for so long eating only these things, just as Germans could not have survived solely eating fatty sausages (although sauerkraut is quite healthy!)
2) The British are always binge drinking
Many Germans are exposed to TV news covering drunken hooligans and reports about the British drinking – and drinking and drinking – after work until the pubs close. But, in fact, the British are only number 11 in an OECD-report about alcohol consumption in Europe, after Germany, Italy and France. Maybe it’s the way of drinking, because there tend to be (slightly) more British teenagers that binge drink than their German counterparts.
3) The British are over-conscious about class
Well, in every cliché there is some truth. If we must study up on it, the UK lies last in Europe with reference to social permeability, and your accent and school still matters socially and professionally. But Germans can’t ignore themselves by any means. Their three-class school system in which the professional future of a child is decided at the age of 10 does not speak in favor of the German class-consciousness.
4) England = Great Britain = United Kingdom
Germans still cannot differentiate between England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom; for them it is all the same. But in fact, England is just a part of Great Britain, while Great Britain is just a part of the United Kingdom, which consists of England, Wales and Scotland (Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. Which is different from Ireland. Got it? Us neither.
5) Every British person loves the Royal Family
This is not completely untrue: the Royal family stands for continuity in a precarious, fast changing world, and is the perfect projection for all fairytale dreams. More than the half of the British think that the nation would be worse off without the Royal Family and 69% think that Baby George one day will become King.
6) The British have a strange sense of humour
”A dyslexic man walks into a bra”, is a classic in the UK. Do I have to say anything else?
Do you know any more misconceptions about the British from a German perspective? Or even prejudices that might very well be true? And what about German misconceptions from a British point of view? And if you're still interested in German misconceptions, they have a few about their fellow Americans, too!