Living in 21st century Britain can be a confusing experience, so spare a thought for those from abroad who have to deal with the country’s idiosyncrasies.
In a thread posted to /r/AskReddit on Saturday December 29, one user asked: “Non-British people of Reddit, what about Britain baffles you?”
The question has received nearly 40,000 comments.
Here are the top 10.
1. Britain’s size
The top comment on the thread has Redditors discussing Britain’s size compared to other countries like the US.
Answering the original question, one user wrote: “How small it is. Living on a little island like that blows my mind.
“I read somewhere that people aren’t willing to drive like an hour to see their family members. Like I used to drive an hour to school every day.”
“Anything over an hour is a long drive really,” replied another user, who said they lived in the south of England but had only been north “a handful” of times.
Other users attributed the perceived lack of travel to the high prices for petrol and public transport.
“Petrol (gas) also costs £4.70 ($5.97) per US gallon in the UK, so it’s no surprise that we try to avoid driving where possible,” wrote one.
2. The variety of accents
The UK is renowned for its variety of accents and dialects, a topic which garnered a lot of discussion with one user asking: “The accents. Why do you have so many different accents in such a small place? And how the hell did that happen?”
Another user was succinct in explaining: “A village may have been occupied for over a thousand years at this point.
“For most of its history it was occupied by people who didn’t travel, and didn’t have much contact with people who did travel.
“Over hundreds of years each region has developed its own little oddities with the language leading to substantially different accents.”
The British obsession with tea
“Your obsession with tea.
“I like tea. It’s good. I don’t see my nation drinking so much tea that power companies have to account for when the commercials start because everyone’s turning on an electric kettle.”
One user attempted to explain, describing teas as “perfect for any situation”.
They wrote: “Welcome. Tea?
“Feeling emotional. Tea?
“It’s a tad nippy out. Tea?
“So upset you can’t talk. Tea?
“Just lost a limb. Tea?”
“Tea as an emotional suppressor is the most British thing I’ve ever heard,” replied another.
“The question ‘you alright?’ is not actually them asking if you’re okay,” wrote one user who was swiftly put in their place.
“Just means “hello”” wrote one Redditor in the comments.
“The correct reply is ‘Yeah! You alright?'”
Another explained: “In Cornwall it is the most common way to say hello. The only acceptable response is ‘yeah, you’
“Alright? Yeah, you
“Even if you’re not alright it’s the only way to respond.”
5. Hundreds and thousands
One incredulous Redditor wrote: “Apparently British people call sprinkles ‘hundreds and thousands’.
The replies devolved into arguments about what exactly constitutes sprinkles or hundreds and thousands and whether the two are actually the same thing, but for the sake of simplicity most agreed they were tiny, sugary toppings for cakes.
6. Strange towns
One reply that received nearly 30,000 upvotes lamented Britain’s odd names for towns and villages in an expletive filled tirade.
They wrote: “The f****** strange city/county/province names.
“Shit like ‘Barton in the Beans’ is a name for a f****** hamlet in Leicestershire.
“We have some weird city names where I’m from. Bucksnort, TN is one of those, but Barton in the f****** Beans is 100% insane.
“Also Titty Hill,” they added, referencing a hamlet near Chichester in West Sussex.
7. Britain’s many names
Great Britain vs. the United Kingdom vs. England vs. the British Isles and all the other odd divisions.
A helpful user clarified the details thusly:
Great Britain is the land mass which includes include Scotland and Wales.
The UK, or United Kingdom, is the country which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
England is the largest part of the United Kingdom.
The British Isles are all the islands off the coast of Europe which are part of the United Kingdom, as well as Ireland and the smaller isles around Scotland and the Irish Sea.
8. Washing machines
In a comment that possibly reveals more about Americans than it does Britons, one popular response reads: “Why is it standard to have the clothes washer in the kitchen, and why aren’t clothes dryers something everyone owns??”
“Washers need water, kitchens are where the water pipes are. Dryers take up room, we have really small houses,” replied one user.
Another added: “Also if the home decorating show I watch on Netflix is any indication, all your houses are 100-600 years old and the walls are made of timbers, plaster, rocks, animal bones, and crumpets.
“Not very easy to remodel or retrofit anything.”
9. Piers Morgan
One Redditor responded to the question about baffling Britain with one line: “That Piers Morgan is still on television.”
Many Britons shared the sentiment, with the most popular reply reading: “That baffles many brits too”.
Other quintessentially British things that were also baffling to Brits included Marmite and Brexit.
“How they’re so rude to each other. FOR FUN,” wrote one user, explaining: “I have a British boyfriend and the way he talks to his family is just baffling to me.”
Another tried to clarify: “Well yeah it’s banter.
“If I can’t brutally insult a mate and be roasted back, do we really like each other?”