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Born and raised in England, but living now in Chicago, Hargis offers perspectives from both sides of the pond, proving once again that the United States and the United Kingdom are two countries divided by a common language. In chapters such as "Words That Guarantee Giggles" and "Grub and Other Delicacies," the author explains differences in pronunciation and usage between American English terms and British English terms:
"In the U.K., Hush Puppies are a type of comfy shoe, and a sloppy joe is a sweater." Such discrepancies, obviously, can fill a book. Throughout, Hargis also includes lists of "British words that might require translation" (their sleeping policeman is our speed bump, and blokes named Randy or Willy will likely get stroppy and not at all cock-a-hoop after taking the piss from a tosser about their names) and "American words that the Brits don't share" (busboys and the concept of bussing a table are "totally meaningless in the UK").
Sections on road rules, real estate, fashion and employment will be handy for readers planning on staying longer than a vacation (or, in Brit: holiday).
Joe Queenan, author of True Believers and Queenan Country:
Amazingly thorough. If you don't know a plonker from a slapper or a berk from Joe Soap, this is the book for you.
Kate Fox, author of Watching the English:
A godsend to Americans trying to negotiate the minefield of British life…it will be like having a helpful British best friend in your pocket, to guide you through all the tricky bits.
Susan Allen Toth, author of My Love Affair with England and England as You Like It:
Although I have traveled through the UK and written about it for years, I found myself reading RULES, BRITANNIA with the pleasure of a first-timer. Toni Summers Hargis answered questions I didn't even know I had, and I smiled in recognition of many of the small but very important nuances she points out. For anyone who wants to arrive in the UK armed with the knowledge of an insider, her book is well-organized, humorous and amazingly comprehensive.
Janet Ross, formerly with Sparks Branch Lib., NV Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information:
Hargis knows whereof she speaks. She grew up in England and holds a law degree from Bristol University; today, she's a business writer and resident of Chicago. Her perspective on the difference among U.S. and U.K. cultures is, as a Brit might say, "spot on.
The key, in large part, is the language. Familiar terms in our version of English are often unknown in the United Kingdom, and the reverse is equally, if not more, true. Covering a wide range of topics, from the considerable differences among the Welsh, Northern Irish, and Scots-none of whom want to be called "British"-to the structure of British education and the differences among wedding and dining out rituals between the two countries, Hargis ends each chapter with a vocabulary list of British terms and those Americanisms that don't translate across the pond.
The book's greatest value will be for those intending an extended stay in Great Britain, but it will prove useful for vacationers planning more than a few days in "old Blighty." Recommended for academic libraries and public libraries with large travel collections.
Doryn's Dish "little black book of recommendations'',
Know an American moving to London? You will do them the biggest favor by buying them this book. Traveling to England? add this to your book of tourist guides NOW! I have never read a book in 2 hours before, but this one I couldn't put down for numerous reasons. WHERE WAS THIS IN AUGUST WHEN I MOVED TO LONDON?
I am not going to say it's always easy living here. Many people back home think, "What could be so different, it's just like New York - just prettier and cleaner" Wrong, wrong and did I mention, wrong? Although we are two cultures that speak English, we are worlds apart. Moving to a new country is extremely difficult and when you don't understand the culture you tend to take a lot of things personally and get frustrated often.
I was contacted a few months ago by Toni Hargis about reviewing her new book, Rules Britannia: An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom. Thank you Toni! Toni is English and has lived in America for the past I believe 15 years. So, it's interesting for me to read about an English person's perspective on living in America. She breaks down EVERYTHING for Americans about living or even VISITING London.
I laughed out loud so many times and it really put a lot of things in perspective for me and even taught me a thing or two about what to and what NOT to say. You MUST go out and get this book. I absolutely adored it and it definitely helped me during a time when I was getting very frustrated with living here, in fact I am trying to get Toni to do a weekly dish for me with little tips like this. She is very funny and I would love to meet up with her some time to compare stories!
From the Family Life Abroad web site:
Although she now lives in Chicago, having moved from Texas (where they say things like "If I had my druthers" with a stiff upper lip), Toni Summers Hargis - who watches a lot of BBC America just to remind herself of what British houses look like - was born, raised and educated (she holds a law degree from Bristol University in England) in the U.K.
Mom to three and author of Rules, Britannia: An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom, Toni admits to few gaffs during her decade of life in America. However, she has had issues with humor, saying it's the British love of heavy-handed sarcasm she misses most. "I used to have a healthy sarcastic sense of humor but so many people here think you're being serious that it's not worth the risk of offending someone or looking stupid. Every once in a while I meet someone who is on that wavelength but it's usually someone that everyone else thinks is crazy."
Doling out bits of advice over the years to Americans traveling to the land of Shakespeare's birth, a country where no one knows what a groundhog is and where sheep's head broth is a delicacy, Toni's compiled a decade's worth of vocabulary lists, translations and explanations of strange customs into an entertaining and highly useful book.
In Rules, Britannia, you'll get the goods on biros, and understand why strange looks are shot your way when you try to eat your sloppy joe. Toni explores the world of underwear, rubbers and full frontal nudity and why saying "fanny" might just get you a sock in the mouth. She also advises that "doggy bag" is an unknown term in Britain, and if you persist in having your left-overs wrapped, you'll "likely be regarded as greedy".
Toni covers topics such as child-care, office etiquette, weddings, crime and driving, including the little known fact that Brits (who, by the way, never refer to themselves as that) park their cars in neutral with the handbrake on. So, "if you borrow someone's car, for heaven's sake, don't leave it in gear when you return it, or the owner will kangaroo straight through the garden wall next time the engine's turned on."
I'm not sure if it's done to see if the reader's paying attention, but Toni even tosses in British-speak of her own at times: when talking about a bed-and-breakfast owner who refused to rent a gay couple a room with one bed, she says the hotelier stuck to his ground; then she says there are words that will crease you up. Toni quite helpfully provides the emergency number (999) if you're in need of an ambulance, the police or the fire brigade.
Rules, Britannia is a practical guide for the uninitiated American in Britain (or any European country where British English is the second language) as well as a walk down memory lane for those of us who've made wee prats of ourselves (once or twice) waffling on in a desperate attempt to get out of another cultural sticky wicket.