January 2020, Question 6

1
  1. This whole book was very British. Did that interest you or make things difficult for you? Or maybe both?

Comments

  • 0

    It interested me (about which I rabbit on at some length in another question)

  • 1

    Excellent! Thank you!

  • 1
    Was it? In what way?
  • 1

    I'm with @Apocryphal : I didn't notice it being particularly British, but then I probably wouldn't. I'd be interested to hear what people thought was so British about it!

  • 1

    Other than it being set in the Royal Navy and all the characters being British subjects, one of the British-isms that tripped me up a bit was the use of "Jack" or "Jack Tar" as a collective for all enlisted men in service. At one point, there's a description of one of the officers being arrogant and we're told "Jack doesn't like that. Not one bit." and I found myself wondering Jack who? Did I miss a new character somewhere?

  • 1

    Did you read The Graveyard book with us? Gaiman had all the Jacks in there - every man jack of them.

  • 1
    Yes, but I think that actually added to my confusion. In The Graveyard Book, they were actual, individual characters. Here, Jack Tar is a sort of collective noun that's addressed in the singular. "Jack doesn't like that" means (I think) "enlisted men, in general, don't like that," not "a particular enlisted man called Jack doesn't like that."

    I don't know that we have such figures in American speech. Maybe John Q. Public?

    It struck me as an interesting turn of phrase.
  • 1
    edited February 7

    Yes, @Michael_S_Miller - that is one of the Britishisms I was thinking of!

  • 1
    I know there were Britishisms but I was oblivious to them. Still, I agree it's a very British book. I wonder what will happen in the series when Americans are introduced.

    I think I would have found a US Navy sub book potentially harder. Part of this is that any navy fiction I've read in the past has been British, more than a strictly UK vs US thing.
  • 2
    edited February 7

    @dr_mitch said:
    I know there were Britishisms but I was oblivious to them. Still, I agree it's a very British book. I wonder what will happen in the series when Americans are introduced.

    I'm sure it will get immeasurably better! :D

    I think I would have found a US Navy sub book potentially harder. Part of this is that any navy fiction I've read in the past has been British, more than a strictly UK vs US thing.

    I know! Even Americans are writing British naval fiction! The turncoats! :D

  • 0

    @Michael_S_Miller said:
    Yes, but I think that actually added to my confusion. In The Graveyard Book, they were actual, individual characters. Here, Jack Tar is a sort of collective noun that's addressed in the singular. "Jack doesn't like that" means (I think) "enlisted men, in general, don't like that," not "a particular enlisted man called Jack doesn't like that."

    I don't know that we have such figures in American speech. Maybe John Q. Public?

    It struck me as an interesting turn of phrase.

    I have been puzzling over this one and so far as I can recall we don't have any other parallel use in British English, not even for the other military service branches. So for example there is no equivalent name for a representative Air Force person. I wondered if it derived from jack meaning a nautical flag (as in Union Jack - my understanding is that although this is casually applied to any UK flag, strictly speaking in non-nautical contexts we should be saying Union Flag). However, etymology online traces it as follows:
    "In England, Jack became a generic name applied familiarly or contemptuously to anybody (especially a young man of the lower classes) from late 14c. Later used especially of sailors (1650s; Jack-tar is from 1781)"

  • 1
    Well, there’s Tommy, of course.
  • 2
    > @dr_mitch said:
    > I know there were Britishisms but I was oblivious to them. Still, I agree it's a very British book. I wonder what will happen in the series when Americans are introduced.

    They will make it seem like there wasn’t really a war before they arrived and the UK had no other allies.
  • 0

    @Apocryphal said:
    Well, there’s Tommy, of course.

    True enough, I'd forgotten that one :)

Sign In or Register to comment.