Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Sir, would you care for a motto?"

I’m getting a kick out of reading some of the possible mottos that the British are coming up with for their nation. We Americans have “In God We Trust,” and the French have “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.” And so the British government is encouraging a national discussion on whether they too should have a motto of their own.

And the British, famous for their sardonic, irreverent humor that mocks anything pompous like a motto, have come up with several choice ones:

“Once Great: Britain

“No motto please, we’re British.”

“We apologize for the inconvenience.”

“Try writing history without us.”

“Free, tolerant, free-minded, and true.”

“Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Abso, Tesco.”

“Americans who missed the boat.”

“At least we’re not French.”

“Get blotto, play the lotto, that’s our motto!”

"Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful" (from Shakespeare’s "Measure for Measure”)

"Unity in individuality."

"Mustn't grumble."

"Don't wait, emigrate."

"Smile, it could get worse."

"Once mighty empire, slightly used."

"Mind your own business."

And so why are the British having a difficult time with conjuring up a motto? According to former advisor on citizenship for the government, Sir Bernard Crick:

"When the American states gathered together, they had 'e pluribus unum' and it was there right from the beginning and it meant something," he says.

"We have no historical occasion like that. You have to take the British sense of history as a whole and I don't think it can be summed up. It would either be vague waffle or terribly contentious…You can't encompass a whole national history in a slogan…..It's ridiculous."

God Save The Queen.

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