British sense of time vs. American
I have a hard time dealing with the way that the British always seem to be "late" in different respects.
For example, I am about to graduate from a UK university, and they did not have the date set for the graduation ceremony until the beginning of April (the ceremony is in November). Where when I went to university in the states, we knew our graduation date before we even started the course, years in advance.
Another example, is that when I speak with a British friend, and we have plans set for the weekend, but haven't discussed what yet. They don't usually call me a few days in advance (generally I like to think in the states that we like to plan as far ahead in advance as possible) yet they never call me, I always call them to set the specifics for the weekend.
Is there some sort of hidden rule that I'm not picking up on? When confirming plans for the weekend, when does that usually occur? The day of? The day before? 2 days before?
Sorry, this question has been driving me crazy and any help would be SUPER appreciated!
Wow, I just hope you will never have to come to Spain or other Spanish speaking country.
In my country you just show up and say 'hey, wanna go..." without organising at all.
This tendency in the States comes from all the German influence (immigrants) and so forth. What you state above reminds me of how Midwesterners are time-conscious and overly organized ad nauseum. Makes me sick!
Bunch of fascists!
Rebecca, I feel your pain.
To be fair, the British are actually punctual and highly organized compared to Latin and Asian cultures, which don't seem to have any sense of time whatsoever. This tendency seems impossible for us Americans to learn to accept, no matter how long we live with them...
Many Chinese admire the Germans (and particularly WWII Germans, I don't know why) for these cultural traits. They say that their weaknesses are the exact strong points/units of Germans.
I think, yes, they are no less punctual, but they are more ad nauseam, more over-organized, more stressed, more time-conscious, more utilitarian, but less romantic, less humorous, and their life is less (or hardly) gemütlich.
Theoretically, given our insane culture of over-working all the time, perhaps just to let the Japanese win hands down, we may actually use temporal adverbs more efficiently than English temporal tenses.
>>To be fair, the British are actually punctual and highly organized compared to Latin and Asian cultures, which don't seem to have any sense of time whatsoever. This tendency seems impossible for us Americans to learn to accept, no matter how long we live with them...<<
As for Asian cultures, that depends upon just which Asian culture you are talking about; such really does not seem applicable at all to the Japanese, for instance.
<<As for Asian cultures, that depends upon just which Asian culture you are talking about; such really does not seem applicable at all to the Japanese, for instance.>>
Quite so; I'd forgotten the Japanese, who're as anal as we are about such things. :-)
With the Japanese put aside, there is a link between nationality and time/dates perception. It seems that here in Russia a process means more than a result, while the Americans are often described as target-oriented (I haven't met many Americans to be absolutely sure). What's the point of knowing your graduation date well in advance? We came to university to study (purpose), a degree being just a result.
I have my graduation project defence in a week and the date hasn't been settled yet, let alone the graduation date. And everybody in my group feel absolutely Ok about it.
There is no such link. That is only fascist propoganda.
"What's the point of knowing your graduation date well in advance? We came to university to study (purpose)", Mary.
Mary, the US is a very large country. Arranging the logistics of a graduation ceremony (or really, any other) takes a lot more planning for relatives (or friends) who might be flying 2 or 3 thousand miles to attend; conflicting schedules can be a formidable obstacles.
"There is no such link. That is only fascist propoganda."
Yram? Don't you mean Robert Monroe? ;-)
"I have my graduation project defence in a week and the date hasn't been settled yet, let alone the graduation date. And everybody in my group feel absolutely Ok about it."
lol! That tradition would be a catastrophe in America--hardly anybody would be able to attend.
I can't quite reconcile Rebecca's experiences with my own and I have lived in the UK all my life. I don't think she is referring to punctuality as such - by that I mean turning up for appointments in good time, at least several minutes before the actual agreed time or perhaps even dead on the minute (which I suspect is not always the case in America). Arriving late for appointments IS regarded in a very bad light here, no matter what the appointment is for.
The guy who comes to perform the regular service of your domestic heating appliances (from the gas board or the electricity supplier) usually turns up in good time, from my own limited experience as I still live with my parents at the ripe old age of 26. The bloke who set an appointment to measure up your bathroom for an updated refit generally arrives at the appointed time. The engineer from BT (British Telecom - telecommunications)) rings the door bell within a few minutes, either way, of the advised time to fix up an extension line in another room. You arreange an appointment with your doctor and yoiu usually see him/her within 15 minutes at the most, and with your solicitor (lawyer) you maye just have to wait ten minutes or so before s'he calls you into his/her office. You get the picture.
My mother's friend and her husband have gone to live near Malaga, in Southern Spain on early retirement in the Mediterranean sunshine and mild winters, and according to my Mum they are finding it a living nightmare dealing with a kind of laid back attitude of all the loal services, from lawyers, builders, bankers, domestic services providers etc etc. Appointments are made for them to call at their hime and they just don't turn up. Calls to them meets with a half hearted apology and a string of excuses like having to go and do something else and "they couldn't make the appointment", a situation made worse by the fact that the customer had to ring them to find out what was going on. It is not unusual to turn up at a lawyer's office to meet him/her at an agreed appointment time only to find that s/he is out, either to an unexpected meeting elsewhere, or even still out to a grossly extended lunch - Southern European lunches are probably the most important part of the business day! So his/her secretary merely smiles and shrugs and suggests you make a new apoointment.....on another day.
So you go back to your half completed home in the sun at about 14:30hrs to find that the building contractor and his assistant, who had arrived at 11:30hrs to do a "day's work" on agreed renovations, have both scarpered...vamoosed...done a runner, with no indicationas to where the (BLEEPNG) hell they have gone. They turn up three days later to carry on where they had left off, without giving any reasons, or even an apology, for their absence. Latest word from my mother's friend is that they are still waiting to have a telephone line installed. She also says that there are live electric cables still lying on the ground near their home a week or so after being blown down in a storm.
That is Spain - the land of Mañana...never do today what you can put off to tomorrow.... ;-) It must be a Southern European thing. - maybe it's something to do with siestas?
I have heard of Brits (thousands of whom retire to the sun spots of the Med countries) having similar problems in parts of Southern and Central France, and as for Italy and Greece......well, very much the Spanish pattern.
This sort of thing just doesn't happen in the UK, but here the sun never shines anyway, except when there isn't an R in the month. Recently the British sunshine has been positively wall to wall Costa del Sol ;-)
As for planning weeks and weeks in advance - well, I'm not sure if Rebecca has a point there or not as I am not familar with what they do in America. Many events, etc are planned well in advance, but Brits tend to leave a lot of preparatory things to the last minute, so to speak, so you can have weeks of apparent non activity except chatter then a mad scamble to get everything done and dusted in time.....and it invariably does with perhaps eight and half seconds to spare.
People tend not to panic in Britain.....even when danger threatens big time....remember, history has chucked a whole lot of danger on the British public, from the skies mostly, so facing danger is historically something the British became accustomed to. It takes a lot to ruffle their feathers. Some years ago a London tube station had to be evacuated ASAP during the morning riush hour because of a terrorist bomb scare, and some Americans caught up in it all were amazed to see how calmly (and quietly) the crowd were ushered by the police up the escalators and up to ground level and to the street above.....no sign of panic.
The Islamic London tube bombings of July 2005 saw a similar total absence of panic...London had seen far, far worse in the past.
In the summer of 1588 Sir Francis Drake calmly finished his game of bowls on the famous Hoe in Plymouth (a sort of esplanade/promenade on the waterfront at Plymouth) even though he, and all his henchmen, could quite clearly see the masses of warships of the Spanish Armada getting even closer out in the English Channel, ready for the attack. Let them wait, I want to finish the game, was Drake's reply when told about the coming assault by the Spaniards.
352/3 years later Hitler's Luftwaffe bombs more or less completely destroyed the ancient and historic heart of the city of Plymouth, levelled it wholesale, which is why it is now relatively modern.
When my mate and I were in Plymouth we loved to hear the nice Devon/West Country accent of the older people - all the younger people seemed to speak in Estuaryised RP or RP'ised Estuary....same difference!
>the US is a very large country
Jasper, Russia is larger than US, so this point can't be the reason ;)
> lol! <...> hardly anybody would be able to attend.
Just one more astonishing example ;) The state exam took place a day earlier that it had been planned (a month ago); this date-change was announced just 4 days before the exam, and everybody came. And this is absolutely normal.
"Jasper, Russia is larger than US, so this point can't be the reason"
It would HAVE to be a major factor! Please follow the logic:
A graduation date is set for May 31 on a certain year; all the family is invited to attend. Some live in the home state, some live half-the-country away, and some live on the opposite coast.
For Janie in California to visit Mary in New York in May, she has to arrange--sometimes months in advance--a vacation ("holiday" in the UK). Why? It's a full day of travel--by AIR--just to get to New York. And a full day to travel back to LA. (Trivia: a Londoner travelling to New York City is still only half-way to Los Angeles!) This would require Janie to take, realistically, a week off. (I don't know what they do in Russia, but I believe similar long-range planning must be necessary)
By contrast, Neville wants to visit Damian on his graduation date. Neville Lives in London; Damian, in Bristol. He can hop on a TRAIN and get to Bristol in just one hour. Neville could travel to Bristol, attend the ceremony, and be back in London on the same day!
All of Europe--if you don't count the European side of Russia--is compact; distances are similarly minimal.
Back to the American question: Consider this--in the years before jet travel, it took a full week by train to reach the opposite coast; before trains, it took two or three WEEKS by stagecoach!
I believe that we have inherited this need for advance planning from our stagecoach-riding ancestors.
I hope this has shed some light on the issue.