Do we have to write in American English?

Egad, not only did I not know what it is, I misread it–thought it said “talivan” and wondered if it had something to do with extremists or a cutesy calypso song:

Come Mr. Talivan, tally me vagina…

I’m finding this paragraph pretty damn amusing, to be honest.

To you Americans (or maybe it’s a generational thing), the term ‘Brit’ is just a casual phrase you toss around, without any emotional baggage attached to it, but not everyone else sees it that way.

Maybe you need to develop the awareness too.

Can anyone from the UK weigh in on this (I’m assuming since your location says ‘true blue Virginia’ you’re not from the UK yourself)? Is ‘Brit’ very offensive?

I am from the UK, just living in Virginia.

And it is totally context dependent. Usually it isn’t. But it can be, and I have been in situations where it has made me very uncomfortable to be referred to as a Brit, or to hear about “the Brits.”

I’m a Brit and see it only as a descriptor, but I have heard a few English people saying that use is offensive - usually in the context of Northern Ireland or Ireland. My opinion is that they’re oversensitive.

I once had a cabbie in Dublin tell me that “Scotland are playing the Brits today”. I took great delight in telling him that Scotland’s in Britain too. Personally I don’t see where the offence at the term lies, but YMMV.

That’s the situation I have heard it used in a derogatory fashion. I don’t find it offensive. I find it amusing when someone uses it at the same time as taking people to task for not considering that other people might find a word they use offensive.

Australian friends of mine swear that in Australian vernacular, Paki is no more offensive than Brit or, indeed, Aussie. I’m sure you agree hearing it in Oxford has a very different impact.

I don’t really care for being called a Brit, and seldom apply the term to myself.

I do use the word cunt very commonly in conversation with friends, though I would not use it in front of my family, my students etc. Depending on who I’m with and what I’m doing, I fear the delicate ears of our transatlantic brethren would bleed copiously around me.

This “but it’s the most offensive thing to say to a woman” thing just doesn’t apply here. We use it as an affectionate term, mostly, among friends, and if applying it in anger or with the intent to offend, it’s almost always aimed at men. I can’t think of the last time I called a woman a cunt because I thought she was a terrible person. I reckon I probably apply it to inanimate objects or just use it as an expletive more than I apply it to women; and I certainly use it affectionately more than either of those.

Maybe it is a generational thing, at that. I’ve never heard anyone from the UK (with the exceptions of a couple friends of mine who are from Scotland) complain or take offense to being called a ‘Brit’ (short for ‘British’…what is ‘cunt’ short for again? :p).

I understand your point (which I think you are making tongue in cheek, as I can’t imagine that ‘Brit’ comes even close to the level of offensiveness of ‘cunt’ does, nor do I believe that even your casual use of ‘cunt’ is in any way, shape or form synonymous with my use of ‘Brit’, which isn’t intended as derogatory at all, merely short hand for ‘British’), and it was basically the one I made in the thread I was talking about earlier (but am too lazy to actually go and find), that people use words in different ways and with different contexts.

How would I do that if no one ever told me that a term I’m using is offensive? I’ve been to the UK many times and no one there ever said my use of the term ‘Brit’ was offensive (outside of the folks I already spoke of, and some friends of my sisters in Ireland). The only way is if someone points out that a term is offensive, no?

As an example, I remember getting a PM from a 'doper informing me that a term I was using was offensive. I honestly didn’t even know what the term was, and merely thought it sounded funny, but the poster told me what the term actually meant and suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore. I immediately removed that term from my own vocabulary and won’t use it again, even though I doubt that 99% of 'dopers would know what the term was or that it was offensive without looking it up.


Offense is probably the wrong word. Irritation, for reasons laid out below, is my sometime reaction. Even though I call myself it all the time.

Margaret Thatcher

Well it is and it isn’t tongue in cheek. As I mentioned, I don’t tend to find Brit offensive. I do often find it annoying, from Americans in fact rather than, for example, Aussies, because it tends to come across as incredibly patronizing.

But there are times I have been called a Brit with definite malice involved. And there have been plenty of times I have been called a cunt without any malice intended or taken. I’ll take being called a cunt in the snug bar of The Bear, Alfred Street over being called a Brit at 4 in the morning on the streets of Derry in the late '80’s.

I’ve no desire to see the term Brit banned. Or any other term to tell you the truth. But the point I was trying to make is that words differ in their usage and meaning, and the term Brit is one which isn’t completely benevolent. Few words are. My customers when I worked behind the bar used to know that they were in trouble if I started calling them Sir. I could put a lot of insulting vitriol into the word Sir if I chose.

Well yeah, I addressed that very term earlier.

Here’s a classic example of how the word is used casually with us Brits.

Apologies for my assumption. You know what they say, when you assume you make an ass out of yourself. :slight_smile:

No worries. You have no reason to know I am a Limey/Brit/whatever else you want to throw out there.

Clearly you think that.

But, while you can argue that a pinch inherently hurts, you can’t argue that the word cunt does. It only hurts because we have conditioned ourselves to be hurt by it. And if we were able to decondition ourselves, it would no longer hurt. You can’t say the same thing about a pinch.

That said, it’s so instinctual that it makes as much sense as saying you don’t choose to be angry. Your choice is more practically in the response, not the offense.

So, if “Brit” is (at least slightly) offensive, then what’s the inoffensive term for “person from or living on the island of Great Britain”?


Or you could go for Briton or British.


Don’t forget Cuntybollocks and Mateybollocks.

Cool. I didn’t know you were a British.
More seriously: I thought Briton was a historical oddity, and was not appropriate today. Live and learn.

I honestly don’t give a flying fuck what people call me. I’ve not come across a word for “people from Britain” the offends me yet, including Brit, Pom, Limey and whatnot.