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
English language, definetely. And globalization. It is not on the list, but I think it is one of major contributions of British people, in positive and negative sense.

All other listed contributions( architecture, literature etc) are more or less of average level if we talk about Brits and not only their specialty.
 
It is true that British have made almost uncountable contributions to our current world culture, but the real question is why? What were the contributing factors that put the British into this position?
Would another culture or people if put into the same position over the last 500 years have provided so much and what will be long term effects of this influence?
1000 years from now will the influence of the British still have as much influence as the cultural imprint left by the Greco-Romans? Will the English language give birth to a common world language? Will Shakespeare still be taught? Will the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd be remembered? There are a multitude of other influences that have been mentioned here, how much will still be meaningful in another Millennium?
 
All other listed contributions( architecture, literature etc) are more or less of average level if we talk about Brits and not only their specialty.

I agree on Architecture, but literature i think they are above average.
 
I agree on Architecture, but literature i think they are above average.

It could be said that they are in top five, but far away that it is their greatest contribution to the world. I believe that Russian literature (Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Chekhov, Pushkin, Tolstoy...) is unexcelled.
 
John Major's 'Traffic Cones Hotline' must surely rank as a contender?
 
The falsely convicted who are later exonerated by late arriving DNA evidence (at least 250 now exonerated by Innocence Project initiative) might be choose to focus on Alec Jeffrey's contribution to forensic science. In that first case, in typical fashion, available evidence pointed to an innocent man, who again in typical fashion, confessed to the crime (rape/murder) while in police custody.
I think as a second string I might vote for the example of the British legal system, being especially mindful of the enlightened changes instituted by Henry II.
 
It is true that British have made almost uncountable contributions to our current world culture, but the real question is why? What were the contributing factors that put the British into this position?

Simply the sea. As an island nation the British came to the realisation around the time of King Henry VIII that the only way to adequately defend Britain was to dominate the sea and he is credited with the beginning of what what was to become (arguably) the world's greatest naval power.

Later, it was Queen Elizabeth I who saw the advantages for Britain in the New World and it was under her authorisation that many voyages of discovery and conquest first began. I suppose she could be credited (for good or bad) with the beginnings of what was to become the British Empire.

Of course, it can be argued that if it wasn't for the competition with traditional enemies such as Spain and France that it would not have come about, but when was it never thus?
 
Antigine - I think its more complicated than it being an island

A book I have sums up the developments that have led to the modern world, where it can be argued that Britain's role played more that its share, and in many cases it was unquestionably the leader. These developments include

1) A shift from a low productivity, subsistence agriculture to a high productivity, capitalist one
2) The rise of representative democracy - way ahead of the continent, starting with the Magna Carta in the 1200's. Not necessarily talking full democracy here
3) Government by the rule of law (common law) - again way ahead of the continent
4) The birth and development of science -apart from greats like Newton, we are really talking about the birth of proper scientific practice
5)The rise and rise of technology
6) The health transition, by which the average human lifespan doubled or trebled
7) The development of secure property rights - again way ahead of the continent
8) The development of modern public finance - e.g because of this they were able to finance wars etc more easily than say the French, despite having a smaller population
9) The globalization of trade and investment
10) The slow march of freedom of speech
11) The abolition of torture and other non- reason based methods of trial as a means of determining guilt or innocence - again way ahead of the continent
12) The construction of effective government programmes for the relief of poverty etc. (eventually!)
13) The birth of mass migration - ie from Britain to the Anglo countries
14) The development and spread of a genuine global tongue
15) The diversion of young male testosterone into sporting activities rather than military or other violent activities. A significant proportion of modern sports were developed in Britain

I'm not saying that Britain is responsible for all the above, but it did play a major part. I think things like common law and property rights were a major enabler for many of the other developments
 
Hi Mike, of course it is more involved, isn't it always? Which is why I used "simply" as the first word, because at the most basic level being an island nation was the reason for its unique development, the mentality and mind-set of it's people and, therefore, it's contributions to the world.
 
Language

I have waited to post this thread as the list may be longer than that of any other countries. Britain has had a remarkably important role in shaping today's world compared to its tiny size (half the land area of France or Texas).

British inventions alone include the steam engine, the gas turbine, the railway, the gas stove/cooker, the car, negative & colour photography, radio waves, the jet engine and arguably also video games.

We also owe to Britain the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and a big part in the development of mercantilism, free trade, capitalism, economic liberalism.

England was the first major country to have a parliament (after Iceland and the Isle of Man).

English is now the most widely spoken language around the world, and the official language of science, computering, aviation and diplomacy, among others.

But Britain's contribution to the world are not limited to its system and inventions. Britain is has given the world famous brands of food, drinks and clothes, such as :

- Tea & Jam : Fortnum & Mason, Lipton, Twinings, Pickwick, Whittards, Wilkin & Son Tiptree, Chivers/Hartleys, Rather Jolly, Thursday Cottage...
- Clothes : Burberry, Paul Smith, Alred Dunhill, Vivienne Westwood, FCUK...
- Cars : Roll Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Lotus, Aston Martin, MG, Mini Cooper, Rover

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.

Related threads :

Greatest contributions of :

Ancient Egypt - Ancient Greece - Ancient Rome

India - China - Japan

Belgium - Britain - France - Germany - Netherlands - Italy - Poland - Spain


English is realy important language. Maybe in next 20 years 60% of Earth population will
speak english.
 
I wouldn't have said the English language. If anything thats probably one of the things i despise the most - the fact that it has destroyed so many native languages across the world and wiped them out, i find that a very sad thing indeed. Plus its nothing but a mix-mash of French/Latin and Germanic, it would have been "cooler" had it just have been Germanic
 
I think that you will find that it was the British who invented the game of football.
They also began the first football league in 1888.

and ...... they are still teaching the rest of the world how to play the game.
 
I think that you will find that it was the British who invented the game of football.
They also began the first football league in 1888.

and ...... they are still teaching the rest of the world how to play the game.
:LOL::LOL::LOL::LOL:
 
Oooohhh!
Now I know what we forgot!!

The Greatest British Invention of all times!
Absurd Humor!

 

This thread has been viewed 296310 times.

Back
Top