University Library News
Georgia State University

Mustn't Grumble

I found a wonderful book yesterday, The Anglo Files LN 5 DA589.4 .L93 2008 by American journalist Sarah Lyall about her experience with British culture and language. She married a man from Great Britain and her take on British culture is hilarious and very entertaining. Part of learning about British culture is learning about the differences between British English  and  American English. One example of the differences between the British and Americans is the common British phrase “mustn’t grumble”. Agatha Raisin, the main character in the detective series by M.E. Beaton, often mentions her frustration at the British tendency to accept whatever comes. The Longman Dictionary lists “mustn’t grumble” as a typical British response to ‘how are you’, meaning it could be worse (American equivalent is “not bad”) and you should keep your chin up.The other phrase “keep a stiff upper lip” is actually American though it originated in England. Do the British not complain? I know Americans do. We seem to protest about every thing. After all, we rebelled and set up our own country. Lyall says that in Great Britain this event is “the War for American Independence”, not the American Revolution.