Oscar Wilde said conversation about it was the last refuge of the (imagination), while Bill Bryson noted that its most ( strike) characteristic is that there isn't much of it. The weather - and the British obsession with talking about it- has been puzzing outsiders for decades.
According to recent research, 94% of British respondents admit to having conversed about the weather in the past six hours and a 38% say they have in the past 60 minutes. This means that at any moment, at least a third of the population is speaking about the weather, has just done it, or is about to do it.
So why do the Brits do this? Is there something about the nations weather that makes it (worth) of discussion, or is it simple a (culture) foible?
One of the reasons is that Britain has a very (predict) weather and this is due to its (geography) position. Britain's position at the edge of a storm track - relatively narrow zones over oceans that storms travel down.
The Gulf Stream
Then there is the Gulf Stream, which makes the British climate (mild) than it should be, given its (north) latitude, and the fact that the UK is made up of islands, meaning there is a lot of moisture in the air.
According to a research lead by Kate Fox, who performed the studies in 2010 for an update of her book Watching the English, British conversations about the weather are more associated to ' (code) converstation'. Fox has eavesdropped on hundreds of weather-related conversations as part of her research and concludes that they're less about the weather and more akin to the kind of (physic) grooming that accurs among our primate cousins.
In some situations, weather talk is an icebreaker. In others it's used to fill awkward silences, or divert the conversation away from (comfortable) topics. Often it's an excuse for a good old grumble, which can be a (bond) experience in itself, but we can also use weather speak to gauge other people's moods: ¨Depending on their response to your weather greeting, you can tell if someone is in the mood for a chat, or is feeling grumpy and negative,´says Fox
But there are certain (write) rules that the British follow when conducting a weather-related conversation. Firstly, the topic will almost always be introduced as a form of question. Secondly, the person answering must agree. ¨Failing to agree is quiete a serious breach of etiquette and the person would be a bit taken back and feel that that was a (discourtesy) thing to say.¨ Says Fox.
Positive and negative face
The reason why British choose to talk about the weather as a mean of socialising is related to the concept of positive face (related to forging close bonds) and negative face (related to the desire to be autonomous and left alone). In cultures that tend to priviledge positive face, personal topics will be involved, such as weight and age. However, British people (stereotype)favour negative face over positive face, although they still have a sense of positive face. Meaning by this that starting a conversation on personal topics would usually be considered (extreme) rude.
Thus, a country like Britain, will choose a safe and personally (obtrude) topic - such as the weather. Japan, Switzerland and Finland are other examples of negative face cultures. And certainly in Japan, another island nation with unpredictable weather, the weather and the seasons are common topics. The Swiss and Finns are not so (obsession) about the weather, possibly because there is less to talk about because everyone knows that there will be snow and cold for a few months, so why talk about it?
In Britain, on the other hand, we can be (wrap) up against the elements on Saturday; picnicking in short and t-shirt on Sunday; and battling (torrent) rain on Monday. That's just the way it is there.
Cold, isn't it?