My friends or students who have been to England before come and say to me: “They are always talking about the weather, actually complaining, but why? It is almost the same everyday: cloudy, rainy, cloudy, rainy…” I try to explain that it is not just a weather-talk, but a form of code.
The book “Watching the ENGLISH: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour” ,which was written by the social anthropologist Kate Fox, comes up with a scientific and convincing explanation.
Kate Fox explains the function of weather talk in three points:
- It is a simple greeting.
- It is an ice-breaker leading to conversation.
- It is used as a default, filler or displacement subject when conversation falters.
I could not agree with Kate Fox more! All the points are so true. Although the choice of weather talk as an initiator is not arbitrary as the weather has some unpredictable nature in the UK, the main function of it is not to complain about the weather, but to strike up a conversation.
So, what is the implication of it?
If we have students who will go to the UK for further education or business, raising an awareness of them about the conversation codes by using authentic materials can be a good idea.
I will continue to write my reflections on the book, but I recommend all the people who are interested in British culture to read this amusing and informative book. You can spend many pleasurable hours and end up finishing it in one sitting!