Lisa's week: Not just a last resort
The British! We love to talk about the weather. Good or bad, we always have something to say about it. When we get together, you can be sure that the state of the weather will enter conversation and we all have an opinion. The stereotype is that the British love to moan and complain about all the rain we get and how an English summer is usually bad, wet and miserable. You only have to watch Wimbledon to see just how much rain you can get!
But, many of us can get a little defensive if our small talk partner isn’t British and the first comment they make is how it never stops raining and then there’s all that fog covering London. We are more than happy to be derogative about our nation’s meteorological situation – but that’s what it is, ours! You might find it more diplomatic not to make jokes about it raining cats and dogs every day over there and maybe just start by asking about the weather in general. It’s definitely not a last resort small-talk topic at the end of the list, only to be used when you’ve run out of other things to say. For example, I talk about the weather we are having each time I call my mum. It’s just part of our regular conversation.
By the way, “raining cats and dogs” is a valid idiom, but just not one that is used all the time any more. We more often talk about “it’s bucketing down” or “it’s chucking it down” if we want to be a little more colourful with our language than the standard “it’s pouring with rain”.
Also, don’t forget that “weather” is an uncountable noun and therefore, you can’t translate the typical German phrase directly into English as, “What for a weather!” Instead, try, “What great/good/terrible/awful weather we’re having at the moment!”
And if you don’t believe me that the weather in the UK isn’t as bad as you think, I just checked online and compared Birmingham and London with Essen and Cologne. Birmingham averages 660mm of rain a year with 178 days experiencing some rain and London has even less at 594mm and 164 days, while Essen has 933mm of rain a year and Cologne has 182 days!
The UK might not be as wet and miserable as we all think ;-)
What is Lisa's week?
"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"
Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday
Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?
Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?
Episode 4: The sound of London