‘Where did you learn English?’ I asked nervously.
‘In England. Where else?’
A reasonable answer. Where else would anyone want to learn such an unimportant language, and learn it well?
The next day, I was reading a book which aims to help German speakers to learn English. On the left page is the English text, while German translation is on the right hand page. The book is called Snapshots of Britain, and the author is Joy Browning. I use it to learn German, and I cannot understand how they managed to have such a poor English translation (it is even poorer than my English!). I came across a paragraph that may answer my curiosity. As I said, the straightforward version is the German one:
"... die Bezeichnung «Britische Inseln» für dieses dem Festland Europas vorgelagerte Land sehr aussagekräftig und nützlich ist, denn es besteht aus mehreren Inseln, und seine Bewohner sind ein Inselvolk mit einer Inselmentalität."I have underlined the nice word that explains much! The English translation from page 8 states:
"... the “British Isles” is a very descriptive and useful name for this country just off the mainland of Europe, for it consists of several islands and its peoples are an island community with an island outlook.”
So, now everything is clear about England and English politics: the island mentality makes the Queen and her subjects to be somehow outside the mainstream :). Just the opposite to what the plot of the London Olympics' opening ceremony tried to demonstrate!