Greatest British contribution to the world ?

What is/are Britain's greatest contribution(s) to the world?

  • The English language

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Universities (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial College...)

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Scientists & philosophers (Bacon, Locke, Newton, Darwin, Russell...)

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • Mechanical inventions (railway, gas turbine, jet engine, automobile, etc.)

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • The agricultural & industrial revolutions

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • Economics (mercantilism, free trade, capitalism, liberalism)

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • Parliamentary monarchy

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Games (snooker, croquet, bridge, whist...)

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Sports (tennis, badminton, cricket, golf, rugby, boxing...)

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Children stories (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Harry Potter...)

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • Crime fictions (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes...)

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • Literature & Poetry (Shakespeare, Milton, Bronte's, Kipling, Dickens, Elliot...)

    Votes: 3 60.0%
  • Politicians (Walpole, Disraeli, Gladstone, Churchill, Thatcher, Blair...)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Teas, jams and biscuits

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Negative & colour photography

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Architectural styles (Norman, Tudor, Georgian, Regency, Victorian...)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Fashion (Burberry, Dunhill, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, FCUK)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Luxury cars (Roll Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, Aston Martin)

    Votes: 1 20.0%
  • Pop music (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, Robbie Williams, All Saints...)

    Votes: 2 40.0%
  • The Commonwealth of Nations

    Votes: 1 20.0%

  • Total voters
    5
I'm surprised you don't have sports listed, I read a book (Tim Harris Sport Almost Everything You Ever Wanted to Know) on the history of sport listed numerous sports where the modern form of them were either invented, developed, or organised by the British. From memory these included

Football / Soccer
Rugby
Cricket
Tennis
Golf
First purpose built motor racing track
Table Tennis
Badminton
First artificial ice rinks
Believe it or not organised alpine skying
Mountain climbing - 31 Swiss Alp peaks first climbed by holidaying brits
First modern grandstands
Boxing
Horse racing - most modern forms and rules
Snooker / billiards
First public swimming pools for sport
 
Another contribution could be the The Royal Society - Bill Bryson has just written a book on it "Seeing Further". Started in 1660, Bryson considers that it was fundamental to the creation of modern science. "The Royal Society continues to do today what it set out to do all those years ago. Its members have split the atom, discovered the double helix, the electron, the computer and the World Wide Web. Truly international in its outlook, it has created modern science"

Members included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, John Locke, Alexander Fleming. Wiki has another list under "List_of_Fellows_of_the_Royal_Society" Membership is not limited to British citizens.
 
I'm surprised you don't have sports listed, I read a book (Tim Harris Sport Almost Everything You Ever Wanted to Know) on the history of sport listed numerous sports where the modern form of them were either invented, developed, or organised by the British. From memory these included

Football / Soccer
Rugby
Cricket
Tennis
Golf
First purpose built motor racing track
Table Tennis
Badminton
First artificial ice rinks
Believe it or not organised alpine skying
Mountain climbing - 31 Swiss Alp peaks first climbed by holidaying brits
First modern grandstands
Boxing
Horse racing - most modern forms and rules
Snooker / billiards
First public swimming pools for sport


Very good point. I have added a new option for sports and another for games. :)
 
as tempting as it is to say the English language, it is not properly a British contribution. It's as much an imposition of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans on the native British. It's kind of an anti-British contribution.
 
Hey, this looks like an interesting thread, after all...!!

I will expand my answer tomorrow... but now, I will say that one of the best british inventions are... Daleks!!... :D :D

new-series-dalek-3d.jpg


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBSOhODoch0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalek

:D :D :D

;)
 
The title of the thread causes me a problem because it uses the world as the target. Once you do that you have to look at the whole of history and the contributions made by previous civilizations. However if “World” was to be replaced by “Modern World” a different picture emerges.

And so, thinking Modern World I suggest something not on the poll, The Victorians.

Arrogant, hypocritical, often cruel, and usually self centered and selfish..

Abusive and abusing ……….. and yet at the same time a benevolent society, even altruistic, that were the quintessence of Britishness.

Hard and brutal at home, yet at the same time begining the social reforms to improve life for the worst off. Arrogant and worse to the people of the lands they invaded and then tried to improve with schooling and medicines and political reform.

They colonised and exploited and at the same time brought in reforms and improvements for so many, and yet at the same time during all their abuse and exploitation most were not even being aware they were doing so.

There is a famous British poet who, more than any other exemplifies Victorianism, Rudyard Kipling.

A shallow reading of his work and judgment against today’s values and he comes across as a condescending bore and yet ………

And yet take one example, The White Mans Burden and think about the times in which he wrote it, the audience for whom it was written, and the perception that so many White Victorians had of the world.

A world they had or were invading, colonising, and in the case of the USA, had engaged in wholesale genocide of the indigenous people and were now about to get stuck into the Philippines.

The Victorians also brought in the concept of Fair Play, and yet swindled millions by mendaciousness and downright cheating. They progressed a Parliamentary system that introduced universal suffrage and at the same time perpetuated an electoral system that sees all too often the party that the least percentage of the electorate gaining office.

It is that system that saw the most awful British Prime Minister who led the most awful British Government, that is Blair and New Labour, being elected by only four people in ten voting for them.

The British nation can best be summed up by paraphrasing the opening lines of Charles Dickens book, A Tale of Two Cities’

“They are the best of nations, and the worst of nations.”

Oh yes, and of course, let's not overlook Cambridge University, though in saying that I must declare an interest!
 
The English language.
 
Ah but is it something unique about the English language, or is it that it’s so widely spoken because of what the British did?

After all, any language in which a persons nose runs but his feet smell can’t be all that great!
 
As you said in another thread @Gwyllgi, the British have done "a lot of good things and bad things".

Here, I want to comment what the thread is intended about, the contributions in ideas, technology and culture... in the modern world. (y)


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is easy to overlook many of the realms in which the British have made contributions, but I think that @Maciamo gave a very interesting list, and from there I will comment what are the most relevant from my point of view.

The English language

There has to be a reason why English is the most widely language spoken today in the World. The initial reasons were colonialism and imperialism. However the English language have some traits that are very much convenient. It is a non heavily inflected language, with SVO syntax which uses the Latin alphabet.

German with an divided predicate architecture, or Chinese with its complicated Logograms would not be so easy to internationalize, even in similar conditions.

The agricultural & industrial revolutions

I will stress more the Industrial Revolution, which in its core it is the use of chemical energy to produce work ...

watteng.jpg


... this "phylosophy" made possible many other things...
Mechanical inventions (railway, gas turbine, jet engine, automobile, etc.)

Economics (mercantilism, free trade, capitalism, liberalism)

This have to be taken with perspective.

Aren't we seeing in the World the truimph of supposedly "surpassed" economical theories like Mercantilism and Dirigism (Japan, China, Korea,... )?

("Mercantilism" was a name given to something that almost all the European goverments from 1500 to 1750 practiced, and likewise "Capitalism" was a name given to an already in place practice.)

However, Economics as a science (Political Economics) was born in England... with Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Stuart Mill and Karl Marx as the first classics... and later we have other great British economists like Alfred Marshall, John M. Keynes and J.K. Galbraith.

However normal people don't realize that many of this supposedly "theories" in reality want to sell "liberal"/conservative ideology in a fancy package. And don't realize that many of the Nobel Prizes given mostly to Americans and British "economists" in recent decades, are plain fraud and political agenda.

Economics is one of the most ideologisized "sciences". Full of "respect to authority" and with a lot of "heretics"...

Only if you dedicate yourself to study the basics of its inception and phylosophy durign a long time, could you perceive a glimpse of truth out of all the propaganda.

Scientists & philosophers (Bacon, Locke, Newton, Darwin, Russell...)

Extremely important those and many others... like Sir Arthur Edington, Lord Kelvin, Ernest Rutherford... the list is unending.

Politicians (Walpole, Disraeli, Gladstone, Churchill, Thatcher, Blair...)

Don't forget David Lloyd George... ;)

On the other hand, Thatcher and Blair could be good known... but I do not see in them a positive contribution.


Parliamentary monarchy

Sorry, I am republican. Although one has to admit than parlamentary monarchies in Europe have done very well (UK, Belgium, Sweden... just to name a few)... I will exclude some other perverted ones, no to start a fight in this thread.

Literature & Poetry (Shakespeare, Milton, Bronte's, Kipling, Dickens, Elliot...) Crime fictions (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes...) Children stories (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Harry Potter...)


And many others authors like D.H. Lawrence, or Olaf Stapledon, ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_Stapledon

Pop music (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, Robbie Williams, All Saints...)

Don't forget Elton John... ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlz6mTyiMZc


Luxury cars (Roll Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, Aston Martin)

Fashion (Burberry, Dunhill, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood, FCUK)

(y)

( Don't forget the Rover http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rover_(automóvil) )

p0012151.jpg
:heart:

Oxford & Cambridge universities (y)

The Commonwealth of Nations (y)

Negative & colour photography (y)

Sports (tennis, badminton, cricket, golf, rugby, boxing...) (y)

Don't forget... SOCCER!!! :cool-v:
 
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@Maciamo wrote...
Many famous novels and children stories are also British. Many of them were adapted by Disney or Hollywood :

- Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Marry Poppins, Oliver Twist, Lords of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.

Although not intended to be purely infantile or young literature, one good example of what you mention is precisely "The Jungle Book" of Kipling... and besides, there is something there, that easily could be used and adapted to the tastes of different cultures, other than British...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ogQ0uge06o (USA Jungle Book )
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4o88SFIqPo (Japanese J.B.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzMyhGnRSm0 (Soviet J.B.)

Regards.
 
I would say one of the great things about the English language is that it has assimilated many other words from other languages. What does this say about the culture, maybe that it is confident and adaptive, and that is maybe why it has done so well in many areas
 
The Brits have done many good and not so good things, my theory is that when you are a powerful nation that whatever you do good or bad it is magnified, look at the USA today. In my small country good and bad things have happened, but it really only impacts on the people here
 
Tea? I'm not sure the brits get credit for that. I heard they stole that idea from a territory that they conquered. They should have credit for promoting it, but I don't think they get credit for inventing it.

English? I'm surprised to see English getting so many votes. It's not an easy second language to learn from what I understand. It has lots of inconsistencies and exceptions. Consider the time it takes french high schoolers to learn different languages to the same standard of proficiency:

  • 2000 hours studying German
  • 1500 hours studying English
  • 1000 hours studying Italian
  • 150 hours studying Esperanto
English didn't do too well in that study.

I think Bletchly Park and Alan Turing were very significant, and should be listed.
 
Tea? I'm not sure the brits get credit for that. I heard they stole that idea from a territory that they conquered. They should have credit for promoting it, but I don't think they get credit for inventing it.

No, no, the brits did invent tea. One guy one day thought that it would be nice to give flavour to water, so he mixed various chemicals into a test tube and tea was created... :rolleyes:

Tea is a plant. It is native to China, and was drunk there for centuries before the Brits first tasted it. BUT it is the Brits who spread the use of tea around the world, it is them who started tea plantations in India, Malaysia or Africa, and it is also the Brits who developed what we call 'black tea'. The Chinese traditionally drank green tea. It's the same plant, it's just that leaves needed to be fermented to make black tea. Apparently it happened by accident when the British brought tea back to Europe; the leaves fermented during the many-month-long sea journey.

Then, most of the world's most famous tea brands (Fortnum & Mason, Taylors of Harrogate, Twinings, Lipton...) and tea blends (Earl Grey, English Breakfast...) are British. So I think we can give them so credit.

English? I'm surprised to see English getting so many votes. It's not an easy second language to learn from what I understand. It has lots of inconsistencies and exceptions. Consider the time it takes french high schoolers to learn different languages to the same standard of proficiency:

  • 2000 hours studying German
  • 1500 hours studying English
  • 1000 hours studying Italian
  • 150 hours studying Esperanto
English didn't do too well in that study.

Obviously French speakers will learn Italian faster than English. It's so much more similar. Esperanto is a very basic language. The beauty of English is that it has more words, more nuances, and more flexibility (while keeping a advanced and efficient grammar) than about any other language. There are many reasons why English became the world's lingua franca, and English could never have become so pre-eminent without an intrinsic superiority over other languages. The more languages I learn, the more I realise how much English is better in almost every way.

I think Bletchly Park and Alan Turing were very significant, and should be listed.

In what sense are they contributions to the world ?
 
No, no, the brits did invent tea ... was drunk there for centuries before the Brits first tasted it
That's an obvious contradiction. As much as you want to credit brits for advancing tea, they do not get credit for a Chinese invention. This would be like saying that the Japanese invented cars. They may have advanced cars more than anyone, but they did not invent them.

That's not to say it doesn't belong on the list, but it's misleading to list it alongside true inventions. It should be qualified (eg. "advancement of teas"). It's easy to advance ideas - inventing something very original is a higher level of creativity than improving on something.
In what sense are they contributions to the world ?
In then sense that stopping Hitler contributed immeasurably to the well-being of everyone worldwide, even the Germans themselves (who made internal efforts to stop him). And in the sense that turing complete languages still continue to advance all but the most primitive tribal communities worldwide.
 
Sitting in a traditional British pub, with real ale. It's becoming harder to do, given the decline in numbers of decent pubs.
 
Impressive list indeed! Every country would be proud of.

I can't believe though that people voted for constitutional monarchy. I'm pretty sure that something alike existed at time in Roman Empire. Also Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth constitutional monarchy dates back to 1495.
 
Well one thing the British won't be remembered for is their cooking! :LOL:
 
I concur, and I think this lack of taste got to be mostly genetic.
 

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