Stiff upper lip 英国人真的很严肃吗?

更新时间 2012年 10月 17日, 星期三 - 格林尼治标准时间15:32

Vocabulary: emotions 词汇:感情,情绪

An actress dressed as a Victorian lady

What's happened to the famous British stiff upper lip?

Many people in Britain have been moaning about price rises, low interest rates for savings; and it's not unusual to see couples kissing in the streets of London. What's happened to the famous British stiff upper lip?

The image of a nation resolute and stoic in the face of adversity still stands around the world, but it's questioned by the Brits themselves from time to time.

The TV documentary Stiff Upper Lip: An Emotional History of Britain, shown recently by the BBC, has been providing the latest opportunity for reflection. It says the emotional reserve that is part of the national identity is actually a far cry from the exuberant attitude of some 500 years ago.

Foreigners in the 16th century couldn't believe how touchy-feely the English could be. "Wherever you move there is nothing but kisses", wrote the Dutch philosopher Erasmus.

The journalist Ian Hislop, who presents the programme, says his countrymen have the French to thank for their current composure. The British ruling classes got worried when they saw the political passion brought about by the French Revolution.

In the 18th century, it was polite to express some degree of emotion in public. A quiet tear when watching a play was acceptable, as sensitivity was seen as a sign of refinement. But the concept didn't last.

The upper lip stiffened during Queen Victoria's reign when unflappable soldiers and explorers became role models for the nation. The Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, destroyed his beloved violin in his youth as a character-building move.

According to Hislop, in the far-flung corners of the empire, the colonisers cultivated an illusion of superiority by appearing to be aloof and unshakeably self-confident.

Suffering? Discomfort? The Brits make no fuss; and some expressed pride when Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in the boat parade on her Diamond Jubilee earlier this year. The elderly couple endured cold and rain showing that the spirit of the stiff upper lip lives on.

Quiz 测验

1. According to the article, what have the British been unhappy about?

They've been moaning about price rises, low interest rates for savings.

2. Look at the article. When were the British seen as too emotional?

In the 16th century.

3. Is the following statement true, false or not given? The Duke of Wellington stopped playing his musical instrument because he wanted to be less emotional.

True. The military commander that defeated Napoleon destroyed his beloved violin as a character-building move.

4. What expressions are used in the article to refer to people who express emotions openly?

Exuberant, touchy-feely.

5. What expression is used to refer to a place geographically distant?

Far-flung.

Glossary 词汇表 (点击单词收听发音)

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