National blame
April 18, 2009 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Can you give me examples of things that nations traditionally blames each other for? For example "Creme Anglais"/"French Custard" or "French Leave"/"filer à l'anglaise"...
posted by twine42 to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
From wikipedia:

Until that time, as Fracastoro notes, syphilis had been called the "French disease" in Italy and Germany, and the "Italian disease" in France. In addition, the Dutch called it the "Spanish disease", the Russians called it the "Polish disease", the Turks called it the "Christian disease" or "Frank disease" (frengi) and the Tahitians called it the "British disease".
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:48 AM on April 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Rollercoasters used to be known as "Russian hills" in English, while Russians today call them "American hills."
posted by nasreddin at 10:48 AM on April 18, 2009

French letter/la capote anglaise
posted by bink at 10:49 AM on April 18, 2009

Are you looking for reciprocals only? The English (who's ships helped the Brown rat spread globally called it the Norway Rat.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:54 AM on April 18, 2009

Singapore noodles are apparently called 'Taiwan noodles' in Singapore.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yucca plants are sometimes known as "Spanish Bayonets" but also I think called "Texas bayonets" and maybe Portuguese too?
posted by Mngo at 11:07 AM on April 18, 2009

English speakers call it a "Danish," but Danes call it "Wienerbrød" (Vienna bread) and, according to Wikipedia, Austrians call it "Kopenhagener Gebäck."
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2009

The Spanish Flu was knows as The French Flu in Spain, and probably originated in Kansas.
posted by Leon at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2009

posted by phrontist at 11:47 AM on April 18, 2009

In Austria, "Wiener" (Vienna) sausages are called "Frankfurter".

In German, there is also the colloquial expression "Engländer" (Englishman) for an adjustable wrench - in England I've heard plumbers call the same thing a "french".
posted by The Toad at 1:52 PM on April 18, 2009

I'd heard that a French kiss is called an English kiss in France, though a little searching shows this is probably little more than email apocrypha.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:00 PM on April 18, 2009

The English Disease vs Asian Rickets

Nitpicky: it's crème anglaise (la crème is a feminine noun so an e is added)
posted by ceri richard at 2:03 PM on April 18, 2009

Go to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and look up everything under "French" and "Dutch".
posted by zadcat at 3:37 PM on April 18, 2009

French Horn / Cor Anglais
posted by mattoxic at 4:55 PM on April 18, 2009

In Italian, similarly to German as noted above, an adjustable wrench is "chiave inglese": English key.

Re. mattoxic's French Horn / Cor Anglais, I'm sure he knows but just to be clear, they are not the same instrument.
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:49 PM on April 18, 2009

Well, there's Dutch courage/comfort/treat/uncle. I'd be much obliged if you could explain the origin of Dutch oven. I've been curious about that one for a long time. All the others are based on British animosity for the Dutch/Germans. Probably Dutch door, too.

In a similar vein, you've got Indian giver and Indian summer - things that are fake or deceitful because European immigrants to the Americans considered American Indians to be deceitful.
posted by stuart_s at 10:21 PM on April 18, 2009

French windows or French doors - here
English basement - here

Neither of which I believe are called that in those countries.
posted by Xhris at 7:24 AM on April 19, 2009

French Horn / Cor Anglais

... are not the same instrument! Although there's something to both: the "French" horn is actually the German style of horn (with rotary valves; France's horn had piston valves). And the English horn is neither a horn nor English -- it's a free-reed instrument like the oboe, and it ended up called English thanks to the Germans, who called it the angel's horn, engellisches Horn.

There's a folk etymology for the English horn that it's an angled horn, and cor anglé got corrupted to Anglais, but unfortunately anglé doesn't mean "angled".

This one isn't reciprocal, but when something's indecipherable, a Greek says "it's all Chinese to me", and lots of languages have similar incomprehensibility idioms.
posted by mendel at 2:55 PM on April 19, 2009

"French doors" "portes anglais" - pretty sure about this one
posted by Penelope at 11:55 AM on April 20, 2009

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