English Vocabulary

England is a country which is part of the United Kingdom, an island to the north-west of Europe. Many people get confused between the UK and England. The UK consists of four different countries; Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Great Britain (called Great Britain to distinguish it from Brittany in France) consists of Scotland, Wales and England. This is why the full name of the UK is 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.

The style of government is a constitutional monarchy and the Queen of England is the head of the constitutional monarchy. But in reality the Queen doesn't have any real weight in power. The country is actually governed by a Prime Minister.

The Flag

One of the biggest and most recognizable symbols that people generally associate with England is the flag. However, there is a difference between the English flag and the Union flag (the Union Flag is only called the Union Jack when it is sailed on a ship). The Union flag consists of the Scottish, Northern Irish and English flag all in one. The English flag is actually the Saint George's flag, a white flag with a big red cross on it.

Saint George is the patron saint of England, and actually the patron saint of many other countries and regions around the world.

Typical Words used in England

The English use a lot of slang which varies from region to region and from city to city. For example, if you call someone a 'peach' in Ipswich you are saying they are very attractive, but if you call them that in Hampshire it means they are an idiot!

init - is a slang word for 'isn't it?', usually when asking for confirmation of something you just said.

Footy - is the abbreviation for football. In Australia it doesn't refer to soccer but to Australian Rules Football or Rugby League.

Mate - is a word we use for 'friend'. It is usually used to refer to male friends and not female friends.

Blinding - when something is blinding, it means that something is fantastic.

Lovely - is a very English word for something which is nice.

A cuppa - refers to a cup of tea.

English Icons

Big Ben and Double-decker bus

Houses of Parliament (Big Ben) - This is probably one of the most famous icons that people associate with England. People call the clock tower 'Big Ben' but in fact it's the bell inside the tower which is called 'Big Ben'.

Stonehenge - Stonehenge is in the south-west of England. Nobody knows exactly who or when Stonehenge was constructed. The standing stones attract a lot of tourists.

Tower Bridge - Tower Bridge is famous for its beauty. Its image has been used by many companies and business to exploit its English connection. The bridge was once used to store the heads of Henry the Eighth's ex-wives.

The London Underground - 'The tube' is the oldest underground transportation system in the world and now one of the largest. The shape of its tunnels is what has given it its name.

Double-decker Buses - These buses have two floors and they're a great way to see the city. Sometimes it's scary when they go round sharp corners since it feels like the bus is going to tip over. But don't worry, the only time buses ever get tipped over is in the middle of a storm.

Glastonbury - Glastonbury is a town in the south of England. It's famous for its mythology and spiritual past. It is believed that the nearby hill is thought to contain King Arthur's body. More recently Glastonbury has become one of the biggest rock festivals in the world. In the sixties it became popular for its free-thinking hippies and the huge amount of space in the countryside. Today it still has the festival, the most important in England, yet it also maintains its spiritual identity.

Animals of England

Foxes - Foxes are very notorious in major cities. England is a very green country and it is very common to have green space nearby. This is perfect for foxes as they have the greenery they need to feel at home and all the food from the streets. Sometimes rubbish bins have turned inside out, and they love to tease other animals, especially pets.

Squirrels - are small animals that live in the trees and eat lots of nuts, or any food that you give them. They hide their nuts in the ground and are known to have a fantastic memory, as they remember exactly where they buried them.

Badgers - Badgers are black and white animals that usually live in shrubs or bushes. They are harmless and it's very rare to see one.

Bulldogs - One of the most traditional dogs is the British bulldog. Known for its ugliness and brutal strength, it has become a symbol of patriotic English people.

Adder - England doesn't have many snakes and it only has one which is poisonous. It's name is the Adder and it  usually lives in the lowlands where it is cool and moist. It's jet black scales makes itself easy to identify and hardly anyone gets bitten by them.

Lion - England doesn't have any lions running wild, but it is a national symbol. Throughout history saints, kings, princes and your average Joe has somehow been remembered for a fight against a dragon or a lion. The England football team has three lions on it's crest, and the lion also appears on many monarchical and juridical symbols.

Birds of England

Pigeon - London is the city in England that has the most Pigeons. Most of the pigeons are in the city centre where everybody feeds them. It has now been made illegal to feed pigeons because of the problem of the over population of the birds.

Robin - Robins are small birds which are usually found in gardens and the countryside. They are brown with a dark orange/reddish breast.

Blue Tit - A blue tit is very similar in size to a Robin but the colors are a mixture of grey and various shades of blue. It usually has a shiny blue helmet/head.

Ravens - Ravens are black birds, probably the same size as a pigeon. Some of them live in The Tower of London. It is said that if the Ravens leave the Tower of London the walls of the building would fall down.

Magpie - is a black and white bird that is found in all parts of the country. They have a distinctive 'warble' and are scavengers. You need to be careful during 'nesting season' as they are very protective and will 'swoop' on you if you venture into their territory.

English Sports

Cricket - Is a national sport of England. Most people learn to play it when they are young. It is played on a large oval field with everyone dressed in white. The games can last one day or up to five days.

Football - This is the most popular game in England and is where it was originally invented. The game has attracted many foreign players to play for English teams and now it boasts one of the most competitive leagues in the world. However, the national team hasn't made any real impact on the world stage since 1966. One of the most popular local football teams is Manchester United.

Rugby - This rough sport is very popular not only England but in the UK. Each team has 15 players and you win by scoring Tries (crossing the line with the ball) and by kicking the ball between the uprights (the top of the posts). At no time can you pass the ball forward, only backwards. The national rugby league isn't as big as the football one, but it is gradually becoming more and more popular among younger people.

Tennis - Tennis has always been a very popular sport. It used to be exclusive to the higher class. Wimbledon has become one of the most competitive and distinguished grand slam competitions in the world and is the only one played on grass. Every competitor has to wear the traditional white clothing.

English Food

England isn't known for it's food but it actually does have a good selection of tasty dishes. Most of them are imported from other countries, especially Italy, Turkey, Greece and India.

Fish and Chips - the most traditional dish is fish and chips. It's the most common thing to eat when you're by the seaside.

Chicken Tikka Masala - Chicken Tikka Masala is an Indian dish which was invented in England, and is now the most commonly eaten dish when eating out in a restaurant

Special Days

Saint George's Day - England doesn't have an independence day but it's national day is 'Saint George's Day' on the 23rd of April. It's the day that everybody celebrates with marches on the streets, food and obviously a lot of beer.

Queen's Birthday - While not the real date of her birthday, it is celebrated as a national holiday on the first or second Saturday of June.

Guy Fawkes Night - During the reign of King James I a group of Protestants tried to assassinate him by blowing him up with hundreds of barrels of gun powder under the houses of parliament. They failed and one captive called Guy Fawkes became famous. Now every November 5th, the English celebrate the day he tried to blow-up the houses of parliament by setting off fireworks and having big bonfires in their gardens or local parks.

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