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BBC随身英语 第425讲 Stiff upper lip 英国人真 本站原创 更新时间: 2012-10-20         

Many people in Britain have been moaning about price rises, low interest rates for savings; and it's not unusual to see couples kissing in the streets of London. What's happened to the famous British stiff upper lip?

The image of a nation resolute and stoic in the face of adversity still stands around the world, but it's questioned by the Brits themselves from time to time.

The TV documentary Stiff Upper Lip: An Emotional History of Britain, shown recently by the BBC, has been providing the latest opportunity for reflection. It says the emotional reserve that is part of the national identity is actually a far cry from the exuberant attitude of some 500 years ago.

Foreigners in the 16th century couldn't believe how touchy-feely the English could be. "Wherever you move there is nothing but kisses", wrote the Dutch philosopher Erasmus.

The journalist Ian Hislop, who presents the programme, says his countrymen have the French to thank for their current composure. The British ruling classes got worried when they saw the political passion brought about by the French Revolution.

In the 18th century, it was polite to express some degree of emotion in public. A quiet tear when watching a play was acceptable, as sensitivity was seen as a sign of refinement. But the concept didn't last.

The upper lip stiffened during Queen Victoria's reign when unflappable soldiers and explorers became role models for the nation. The Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, destroyed his beloved violin in his youth as a character-building move.

According to Hislop, in the far-flung corners of the empire, the colonisers cultivated an illusion of superiority by appearing to be aloof and unshakeably self-confident.

Suffering? Discomfort? The Brits make no fuss; and some expressed pride when Queen Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in the boat parade on her Diamond Jubilee earlier this year. The elderly couple endured cold and rain showing that the spirit of the stiff upper lip lives on.

Quiz 测验

1. According to the article, what have the British been unhappy about?
They've been moaning about price rises, low interest rates for savings.

2. Look at the article. When were the British seen as too emotional?
In the 16th century.

3. Is the following statement true, false or not given? The Duke of Wellington stopped playing his musical instrument because he wanted to be less emotional.
True. The military commander that defeated Napoleon destroyed his beloved violin as a character-building move.

4. What expressions are used in the article to refer to people who express emotions openly?
Exuberant, touchy-feely.

5. What expression is used to refer to a place geographically distant?
Far-flung.

Glossary 词汇表

to moan 抱怨,唠叨
stiff upper lip 严肃,严峻
resolute 坚决的
stoic 坚韧的,冷静的
adversity 逆境
to question 质疑
to reflect 反映,思考
motional reserve 情感储备
national identity 国家特征
a far cry 完全不同
exuberant 旺盛的
touchy-feely 感情外露的
composure 镇静
the ruling class 统治阶级
sensitivity 敏感度
refinement 细化
unflappable 镇定地
role model 模范榜样
character-building 品格培养
far-flung 遥远的
aloof 冷漠的
self-confident 自信的
to make no fuss 没有大惊小怪