[Jokes] An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman - Japanese style

McKenna, Chris (RDSSW) chris.mckenna at defra.gsi.gov.uk
Tue Jul 9 09:27:46 BST 2002

Found this translation of a recent Japanese newspaper article. How sooooo
wrong some people can be :)


An Englishman, Irishman and a Scotsman...

A standard type of joke begins 'There was
an Englishman, an Irishman and a
Scotsman...'. In it, the Scotsman is usually
mean and the Irishman is usually stupid. 

Similar jokes are told by other countries: by
Americans about Poles, by Canadians
about Newfoundlanders, by the French
about Belgians. 

Such jokes are not fashionable now among younger people; in fact,
being Irish is very fashionable. Being Scottish next most fashionable,
then English, with Welsh last. There are many popular Irish rock
groups, for example, and no Welsh ones. This proves that ability to
sing is inversely proportional to the success of pop music.

A puzzle: in the Olympic Games, we have one team, Great Britain. But
in the World Cup, we have four teams - England, Scotland, Wales,
and Northern Ireland. (Southern Ireland, or just 'Ireland', is of course a
separate country, and the most fashionable of all.)

So is this one country, or four?

Each country has something distinctive. Scotland has its own
banknotes, legal and educational system. Northern Ireland has two
religions. Wales has its own language. And England has all the

The important thing to know, however, is not the symbols of a country.
Scotland's kilts, haggis, bagpipes, Highland Games and so on do not
mean anything in everyday British life. (And none, in fact, are
genuinely Scottish, but were devised by the English.) What matters for
a visitor to Britain is to know the attitudes of each country to the other. 

For example, if an English newspaper carries the story of a Scotsman
who has won in the Olympics, the headline will be 'BRITON WINS
GOLD'. If a Scotsman has been arrested in Malaysia on drugs
charges, the headline will be 'SCOT ARRESTED'.

Scottish newspapers are slightly different. When the great passenger
ship the Titanic sank in 1912, killing hundreds of transatlantic
passengers, one Scottish newspaper had the famous headline
'DUNDEE MAN DROWNS'. If a Scottish newspaper carries the story
of a Scotsman who has won in the Olympics, the headline will be
'SCOT WINS GOLD'. If a Scotsman has been arrested in Malaysia on
drugs charges, they will carry a different story, perhaps about an
Englishman arrested somewhere else.

You have to be sensitive to the attitudes of each country to the other.
Like neighbours in a cramped apartment block, we each like to think
that the others are a little strange. For example, each country thinks
they speak English perfectly themselves, but the others have an
amusing and difficult regional accent. 

Here is your guide to the image of each country as seen by the others.

The English:
The English are seen by the others as either 
	1. football hooligans 
	2. heartless government officials 
or 	3. emotionally repressed middle-class families who drive to the
supermarket in expensive
	   off-road jeeps.

But on the good side, they are law-abiding, polite, and humorous.
And, even better, for the other countries, they go abroad for their

The other countries love to hate the English, especially the Scots. The
quickest way to annoy a Scot is to call them 'English' - so remember
this, because it could be very useful next time you want to annoy a
Scot. They believe that the money from North Sea Oil belongs to
Scotland, and that the English have stolen it all. They also believe that
any unpopular new taxes or laws are tried out in Scotland first.

The English are not English, but are all descendants of Anglo-Saxons,
Vikings, Normans, and more recently, Caribbeans and Asians.

The Scots:
The Scots are seen by the others as either 
	1. argumentative town drunks 
	2. miserly old country folk with large ginger beards 
or 	3. confident media people who go on TV to complain about North Sea
         Oil revenues.

But on the good side, they are excellent inventors (TV, roads, bicycle,
telephone, golf, whisky, long pub licensing hours). And, even better for
the English, they have lots of North Sea Oil.

The Scots are not really Scots, but are all descendants of other
European Celtic tribes. 

The Northern Irish:
The Northern Irish are seen by the others as either 
	1. stubborn Catholics 
or 	2. stubborn Protestants. 

The other countries do not understand 'the Troubles'. Do not get into a
conversation with an Irish
person about 'the Troubles', because you will be wrong, whatever you say.

The Northern Irish are not really Northern Irish, but are all descendants
of Scots, or Southern Irish. 

The Welsh:
The Welsh are seen by the others as either 
	1. grim rugby players with black hair 
	2. Gloomy male voice choirs 
or 	3. suspicious sheep farmers in pubs, who change to speaking Welsh
when English people
         come in.

But on the good side, it is a land of great poetry, song and vigorous
social life - all in Welsh, which is unrelated to European languages
and therefore incomprehensible to the rest of the world. 

The Welsh are not really Welsh, but are all descendants of ancient
English tribes.

The others:
There is also the Isle of Man, whose inhabitants have UK passports
but which is effectively a small separate country. However, it is rather
uninteresting, and there are no jokes or stereotypes. Then there are
the Channel Islands near France (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark)
again separate countries but with the same passports. These are tax
havens full of retired millionaires, frustrated because the islands are
too small to drive their Rolls-Royces at more than 30 miles per hour.

In 20 years' time, devolution may take full effect, with Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland becoming totally separate countries. Where
would be the fun in that? The Scots would have to find someone new
to complain about.

Steve H

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