Tuesday 7 June 2011

Culture: "Typhoo-lidays", Britons and Weather

Dragon Boat Festival 2011 @ Stanley
Stolen image from my friend Lee Chun
Hot and humid, hot and dry, very hot and very humid, these words basically sum up the weather in Hong Kong this summer, or every summer as a matter of fact, with the occasional anticipation of a Super Typhoon, together with the hope of a Typhoon 8 holiday, which dies right before it hits the South China sea or makes a dramatic Boomerang-turn to attack Taiwan, Xiamen or Okinawa instead. Hong Kong is a blessed city, and Chinese people know well that one should not hope for natural disaster to strike, but readers of this blog outside Hong Kong, you'll be surprised how much the Hong Kong citizens want that extra "Typhoo-liday"! As far as I can rely on my memory, the "Typhoo-lidays" have fallen short these two years. (If any other newspapers, magazine or websites use this word from now on, I'll take all the credits, haha!)

I still remember that last year one of my good friends from Malaysia came to work in Hong Kong and experienced the power of Typhoon for the first time, and he loved it! (He works in Singapore, and both Malaysia and Singapore are hardly ever hit by Typhoons.)

In the Culture: Italian Popular Gestures article, I mentioned that it is not enough to learn how to speak a language, and one has to learn their culture, their ways of living as well. We have learnt about how important gestures are for the Italian, now is the time to learn about the Britons, here's an article not so new, but very helpful:

Britons 'spend six months talking about weather'

You feel compelled to talk about how chilly May has been so far, or how sunny April was before. You can't stop remarking on the coldest winter in decades.

Snow, sunshine, ash or rain - there's always an excuse to talk about the weather in Britain
Snow, sunshine, ash or rain - there's always an excuse to talk about the weather in Britain 
Do not worry. You are not alone.
For Britons spend an average of six months of their lives talking about the weather, according to a survey of our small talk.
Be it old wives' tales, or the unique atmospheric circumstances that enabled volcanic ash cloud to wreak havoc with airlines for weeks, we never seem short of meteorological subject matter.
Lloyd TSB interviewed 2,000 people and found they spent far longer talking about the weather than that other national obsession - football - or trivial matters like one's job.
Weather was the most common subject to break the ice when addressing strangers or even at business meetings, according to the report.
Philip Eden, weather columnist for The Daily Telegraph, was not surprised by the findings.
"I think it's a part of our national psyche," he said. "We are a fairly reserved sort of people and talking about the weather is an easy, non-confrontational way of breaking the ice."
The British weather itself played a part too, he said.
"There's an element of the very changeability of the British weather, that it gives us the opportunity to talk about something different every day."
However, he also worried for the future of weather-related chit-chat: "I think we are becoming more disconnected from the weather because we sit around in air-conditioned offices all day."
Paula Llewellyn, head of marketing services at Lloyds TSB Insurance, said: "These findings prove that we really are a nation obsessed by our climate, with our unusually cold winter fuelling millions of conversations around the country."
The research was released as the insurer launched its weather photographer of the year competition.Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Where has spring gone?
"It is going to get warmer, " predicted Eden. "But there's no heatwave on the way."

Guess you know what is the best topic to chat with Britons now!

More on cultural differences in the future articles.

Boomerang -- (n)[C] a flying tool with a curved shape used as a weapon or for sport.
A Boomerang
Image from Wikipedia
"Typhoo-liday" -- (n)[C] A word created by Locky, meaning a holiday brought about by the hoisting of a high level typhoon signals, in the case of Hong Kong it is number 8 or higher.

Culture: Italian Popular Gestures @ Locky's English Playground

Britons spend six months talking about weather @ Telegraph