Serious please. On Exeweb we have, for once, managed to get a thread into a serious, thought-out debate without spiralling into the gutter of punning and sex jokes. I thought I'd quote a few points here and see what you think:
What is it that defines the English identity and the English nationality? I know I'd be pushed to come up with a decent paragraph to do so, hyperbolic or otherwise.I have no idea! But it's an important question. It seems all too likely we're going to go the way of a 'mini America' which is sad seeing as we gave the world an amazing language, some incredible scientists, writers, explorers, artists, engineers.. The rest of the world caught up 80 years ago and we're slowly living further and further in the past... The second world way ended over 60 years ago but the way some of the tabloids carry on when we play Germany you'd think the d-day landings happened last september!The general lack of consciousness of an identity for modern Englanders is very much tied up with our historical 'superiority complex' and the inability to claim a modern role that binds us together. Communities and families just seem to get further apart. While people are only too ready to condemn the divisive effects of religion in any form, drinking till you're comatose is funny and cool. We've lost the love somewhere it seems to me, and while there's a lot more awareness these days on subjects like race and class, showing feelings is still very much OUT in my experience. We think Americans are vulgar and annoying but sometimes I prefer the way they just say what they are feeling without needing an invitation card first.[We gave the world] a language that isn't even our own - an amalgam of Celtic remnants, French, Norse, Saxon, Angle, Jute, Frisian... just looking at a scattered list of place names distills the non-singularity of our culture. Whilst that's not necessarily a bad thing - and heck, the language today is growing still from fragments of Empire, new-generation immigrants and native slang, it does sum up quite neatly what, for me, is one of the underlying issues that makes defining "Englishness" so difficult.
Our favourite curse words are almost universally of Saxon root, and any thorough analysis of the Arthurian legend connects its roots heavily with Gwynedd: and its medieval embellishments entirely with a cleric currying favour with Norman gentry, simultaneously editing history to connect French invaders with a legitimate claim to the crown. Then there's the trunk-road infrastructure that dates back to the Roman conquest, Watling Street, Ermine Street and the Fosse Way.
It's almost a minefield of contradiction to celebrate a country born of invasion, amalgamation and, to be brutal, interbreeding, and in the same sentence question the endurance of such images in the face of further immigration and further change. Perhaps this dichotomy, one that has undoubtedly recurred throughout history, culminating through battles at Watling Street, Mount Badon, Edington, Ashingdon, Stamford Bridge, Hastings and Bosworth, to name but seven: to be pre-eminent, stand tall once last time, and then proceed into history?