It was pointed out to me recently by Helena that for most Europeans, travelling from their home country to another did not strictly entail them going overseas and hence I ought to watch my vocabulary when talking about international travel. I was quite disgusted with myself when I reflected on this – clearly I have been back in Britain too long! I hope I’m not becoming a little Englander, fearful of bidding farewell to the White Cliffs of Dover.
I am however already very studious in my avoidance of terms such as on the continent, I’ve never been over there or in Europe (meaning outside the British Isles), and when you take notice of the words the Brits use about international travel there’s always an element of us-and-them about it, it strange, foreign. People from right across society tend to fall into this vocabulary trap. If you care about Britain’s relationship with Europe, think of these things the next time you are talking with Brits about travel!
I was also quite shocked by a form I had to fill in this week on The Guardian’s website, asking about my ethnical background. The fact that I was asked about this is normal enough – it’s standard practice in the UK. But the options were:
Your ethnical background:
(iii) Other (please specify)
In the ‘please specify’ box I stubbornly wrote ‘European’…