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A survey for... Anglo-Saxons?

I have recently posted an e-mail on a Francophone SF mailing list. I asked why they often use the word "Anglo-Saxon" talking of US or British literature, when it is - IMHO - completely inappropriate. I proposed "Anglophone", but someone explained to me that "Anglo-Saxon" is used ONLY for US and British literature, leaving aside Canadian, Australian etc. ones. This, they explained, because these two countries have a certain "cultural unity" that distinguishes them from other territories of the British Empire. 

So, what do you make of it? And what about science fiction? Do you think there is a "cultural unity" between Britain and US?

PS: Please, feel free to invite anyone who might be interested


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 15th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
Absolutely not!

I'm just back (to the UK) from a week in the USA, and the culture gap between the UK and the USA is enormous, even in the relatively Europeanized coastal cities I was visiting. Culturally the USA has as much in common, if not more, with Germany than the UK; we tend to be blinded to other differences by the shared language, but once you get past that they're very different.

Canada is a lot less alien to the UK than is the USA.
Oct. 15th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
Following myself up ...

Authors write in the context of their cultural background. And as a side-effect of the UK/US culture gap, the current state of British SF is very different from American SF.

There's a lengthy essay in there, but I have to rush ...
Oct. 15th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
My first thought on reading your post was to remember a close Canadian friend referring to himself, an English-speaking Canadian, as an Anglo-Saxon, though in fact his actual lineage is Ukrainian.

As a US ex-pat, I have always found a large cultural difference between the US and the UK. It may be that the people on the Francophone mailing list assume there is a cultural unity between two countries that they feel no cultural unity with...if you can follow that. Perhaps from the perspective of the Francophone mailing list, there seems to be more of a cultural unity than there really is.

British sf has always been very different from US sf, and many people have written lengthy essays on the subject.
Oct. 16th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
"Anglo-Saxon" is a traditional usage in French, and that's a sufficient reason for anything in France. In French-speaking Canada, it may not be as generally used, but any currency it has is reinforced by the fact that, for a long time, WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) was broadly used in English-speaking North America to designate the dominant majority. So, why would francophones reject a term used by "Anglo-Saxons" themselves?

Personally, I use "Anglo-American" to speak of the UK/US axis, and frankly I think protestations of UK/US distinctiveness are disingenuous. They share a long history, culturally and otherwise, as leading industrial powers, imperial masters, capitals of English-language culture, founts of neoliberal thought and practice, financial centres of the world, and conquerors of Iraq.

I find it telling that U.S. popular culture (Hollywood movies, television, books, etc.) easily adopts British settings, while other (largely) English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada or Ireland are definitely second choices, mostly valued for picturesqueness. (Did anybody in the U.S. notice how the Simpsons, in the eponymous movie, somehow travel by train from Alaska to Seattle without even giving a hint that they passed through Canada?) The British may not be as ready to consider the U.S. as an extension of their own society, but, frankly, an exhibit of Star Trek paraphernalia in Embra is as good an indicator as any of common ground...

That is not to say a Canadian like me won't feel that the U.K. is quite homey (even though its questionable comforts are often outrageously expensive). But I do think the US and the UK look first to each other before thinking of the rest of the world.

Hmmm, reminds me of the time I was travelling in Spain aboard a bus with a Scottish driver and an English guide. When the bus broke down by the side of the carretera and it became necessary to explain our plight to the Guardia, why was it that it was the Canadian from across the pond who spoke the most Spanish?

As for science fiction... well, I like British sf, and one can probably make a better case for British sf having a long and distinctive tradition while English-language Canadian sf comes closer to being joined at the hip with U.S. sf. But that would require an even longer discussion.

Jean-Louis Trudel (http://culturedesfuturs.blogspot.com)
Jan. 8th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
In Spanish, the term "anglo saxon" is also used to refer to pan-English. for instance, I have a degree in English Literature, which is "literatura Anglosajon", to distinguish that is not just British Literature, for instance.

I think German would be more precise, if only because their translations from English tend to list the country-of-origin: Translated from the Canadian, Translated from the irish, Translated from the South African, etc.

(Here in Spain, it's most typical to just put "Translated by" if at all.)
Jan. 8th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
Hi, welcome to my LJ and thanks for your interesting comment! I love to see how things are seen from different points of view.
Oct. 16th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
anglo-saxons vs anglophone, a matter of word

Dear Jean-Louis Trudel

>Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American
>"Anglo-Saxon" is a traditional usage in French, and that's a sufficient reason for >anything in France.

Oh Jean-Louis, How dare you say that ?

This is like saying : “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
So Frenchs are like God, himself.

May be, it is true ! like you say :-)

Could it be true, that does not answer the question.

Do you remember the second World War ?
When the US and UK worked together and land in North Africa to destroy the french fleet.

What do you read ?
You read the term anglo-saxon in articles and papers.

And another, and another when the allied forces (US and UK) land all over the Europe, to free... hum, more surely to stop the nazi domination. (However, God Bless all this men who died and be wounded to truely confort a better world, they fight for the better human idea)

So, the term anglo-saxon gained the hearth of our french dictionnaries.

And stayed with this meaning : anglo-saxon = UK and US.

Off course, the US SF is totally different from the UK SF.

Serena propose "Anglophone"

"Anglophone" is an other word for all the english language writers, and is far away the most translated english writers, who are "anglo-saxons" !

So Anglophone is not correct / convenient to refer to this authors' massive wave which land in our sets of shelves of bookshops and libraries.

Best regards
The Fox A.
Oct. 16th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
Re: anglo-saxons vs anglophone, a matter of word
Ahem... since we are debating words and their appropriate use... the name is SELENE, not Serena ;-)

And by the way, I don't think I know you :?
Oct. 17th, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
Oups, Sorry Selene, I apologize. Bad neuronal interconnection.

But you know, you know me... or one of my avatar name :-)))

I really like your podcasts Les Lyonnes de la SF, Miaou ! :o)

May be, i will meet you in real life... but in french. My english is rusted and my italian non-existent.

best regards.
The Fox A.

Oct. 21st, 2007 06:32 pm (UTC)

either in Italian or in English, I do use "Anglophone" for "English-language". Period. Every other usage sounds to me nationalistic one way or the other.

As far as I can tell, in Italian culture "Anglo-Saxon" would seem totally UK-centric, while "Anglo-American" is simply a synonim for "US".
The former bears also, I would add, a clear hint of superiority, a legacy among other things of the Anglophobia of the fascist years.
And that "cultural unity" as well doesn't look like a very nice thing to say: are the UK and the US a half culture each? Or one of them is to be considered a part of the other? (who is annexing whom?) And--as everyone has noticed--what about other English-speaking places?

Let us know how is the discussion in the Francophone ml going! any interesting followups?

Best wishes
Salvatore Proietti
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


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