George Mikes How to be an Alien
George Mikes was born in Hungary but he moved to England when he was young. Although he has lived in England for a long time, he has always felt as a foreigner there. This book is his view of the English as a nation. It consists of more chapters, which desribe ironicly the customs, culture, qualities, behaviour and language of the people living in England. In the first chapter about introducing in England I learnt that when someone introduces me to a stranger, I have to wait until the stranger stops trying to shake my hand and then I have to try to shake his. And when he asks me: “How are you?“, I shouldn‘t tell him the truth because this question is something what belongs to a greeting and nobody really wants to know how I feel. While reading the second chapter I realized that the English are a little bit stranger in comparison with the other European nations. For example, the Europeans don‘t talk about the weather but in England you have to say: “Nice day, isn‘t it?“ about 200 times every day, or you seem to be boring. In Europe people like their cats but in England people love these animals more than anything else. The European are either honest with you or they lie to you, in England people almost never lie but they are almost never honest. The part about the weather is very interesting. In England it is very important to be really good in talking about the weather because it is one of the most frequently used subjects for a conversation at all. On the other hand, in Europe the weather is one of the most boring subjects you can talk about. In this chapter there was also mentioned the fact you must always agree with other while talking about this subject. As for me, the best is the part about English tea. It is my opinion, too, that tea is a good drink with lemon and sugar. But when the British put cold milk into it, it really has to seem like dirty water, I can easily believe it is tasteless and colourless and I would never drink it. I wonder not just how they can drink it, but how they can drink it so often, too. Because if I count it well, they drink tea for about 7 times a day at least. That is minimum. Foreigners maybe don´t have to drink so much tea. But how Mikes says, it isn´t very gooo thing to be a foreigner in England. I think it is very difficult to hide this from the native speakers because of your accent.
With regard to the accent in the book there are two pieces of advice, which are important to remember:
In English it is much easier to write than to speak because you can write without a foreign accent and in the street it is better to speak quietly in good German than to shout loudly in bad English. Maybe it is better, when you don‘t speak at all. And it seems to me the best thing you can do is never go to England because it is very strange country, which much stranger people live in.
As for me, this piece was excellent. It made me to smile and it was interesting, too. I enjoyed reading it very much.