Talk:British Isles/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Neutral point of view?

With respect to the author of the first three paragraphs as of writing, I believe that the introduction to this article is in need of avoiding weasel words! To me, they read as if the author is an Irishman displeased with how ubiquitous the term "British Isles" is, and I get the impression that he doesn't want anyone to hear the term spoken without knowing that it's not so popular in the Republic. Highlights are mine:

The British Isles is a term traditionally given in Britain to the group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe including Great Britain (containing England, Scotland, Wales), and Ireland, and several thousand smaller adjacent islands.
Although still commonly used, the term is disliked by some, who believe that it implies a continued British sovereignty over the whole of Ireland, or that Ireland is British in some sense. The term often causes offence in Ireland when used as an attempt to signify some common identity of the peoples of the islands.
In terms of geography the term British Isles is understood in Britain to refer to the whole archipelago, from Scilly to Shetland, containing more than 6,000 islands and totalling 315,134 km² (121,674 square miles) of land.

The introduction spends more time telling us that the name is controversial to some, than it does telling us what it means! The name "traditionally given" implies that the name is archaic as opposed to official and current. We see twice "is understood in Britain", as if to say, "Only Britain even uses this term at all, of course - the rest of us don't!"

As I had always understood it, British Isles was the name of the north-western islands in Europe in an entirely geographical context as "The largest island on which Britain is situated, and the other islands around it". Admittedly it's not so flattering to proud Irishmen who don't like to play geographical second-string to a country who had conquered them less than a century ago, but it's a geographical term all the same and it's one which is far too set-in to see a change any time soon.

Surely it only requires one line to note that the term is disliked by some Irish people who feel it suggests British ownership, and then later expand on this in its own section? --Jonathan Drain 01:20, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

I couldn't agree more. Whilst it may be prudent to say that the term "British Isles" is disliked in some circles, this article is meant to be about geography, not politics. The politics of the British Isles is (or should be) dealt with elsewhere. Waggers 09:12, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
Except look at all the talk on this page. There needs to be something in the intro or we will be inundated with moans about bias and pov. I have made an attempt to trim the intro, however. Robdurbar 09:15, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that [i]some[/i] reference needs to be made to the controvercy, but we should ensure that the main thrust of the article is about the islands, rather than the politics. I think your change to the intro is an improvement, although probably some further refinement is needed. (For example, I'm not convinced we need the word "traditionally" in the first sentence) Waggers 10:40, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

"To me, they read as if the author is an Irishman displeased with how ubiquitous the term "British Isles" is, and I get the impression that he doesn't want anyone to hear the term spoken without knowing that it's not so popular in the Republic"

Oh, that's really coming from someone who wants a NPoV?

Monucg 20:14, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

The term is actually common in the UK. It is used politically by a lot of people in the UK and some in the Republic(of Ireland). It's objected to by most of us in the Republic as it does imply that we are British (and let's face it, we have dropped plenty of hints over the last few hundred years that we didn't and don't want to be British).

It is the case that people in Britain will actually refer to the Republic as being British anyway without even mentioning the British Isles. For example, the "British [sic] runner" Eamonn Coughlan, the "British [sic] actress" Brenda Fricker. (There are numerous examples in the media and on the Web. I saw U2 being referred to as "the British band" on a BBC webpage recently.Though we do also have a UK-born Head of State. Interestingly, she isn't referred to as being British)

Part of the problem is that we (most of us Hibernians) have been reluctant to cut the umbilical cord fully. We didn't formally become the Republic until 01/01/49. Until then, the "King of England", actually the King of the UK, was formally our Head of State. Until recently more of us watched UK television stations than Irish ones. When we talk about "going abroad" for our holidays we mean outside of these terminologically disputed islands. We don't refer to the British as foreigners either (which they are) and they don't refer to us as foreigners either for the most part. Until recently you didn't need a passport to move within the "Common Travel Area". Plus, the bulk of us speak English (except in Connemara and Bradford).

If you go on holiday to Continental Europe you may find, as I did, that you will be talking to British natives who will talk to you about "the foreigners". I pointed out that we were actually foreigners to each other (that is, British to Irish), to stunned looks. If you say to people from Britain that you object to the term "British Isles" they will often be surprised but for a variety of reasons. For one, some genuinely can't see why it causes offence, others can't see why anyone (on the planet) wouldn't want to be British if they had the chance and a lot see it as the natural order of things (the BBC has a lot to answer for).

Another problem is that (as some commentators have alluded to) academics will publish tomes that seem to be a bit confused on the subject. It's a little disconcerting to read tomes by British historians that seem to be well written until you come across a line/sentence/paragraph relating to Ireland that belongs in the realm of the counterfactual or anachronistic. You then begin to wonder if the rest of the exegesis is flawed also. I must finish now as there is another can of lager in the fridge calling out to me. Regards, Damian.

The term British Isles is not only used in Greate Britain, the German word is Britische Inseln and I guess most of the world calls those islands by this name. The only real alternative would be Anglo-Celtic Isles, but I've never heard of it outside this article. Markus Schmaus 16:06, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

clearly there IS a term 'british isles' but the truth about it is that it's used in britian but generally irish people dont like it. the fact of the matter is; the term was invented by british people and is used by british people - irish people rarely use it and most find it amusing that the british people who use it are so inward looking that they continue to use it long after it's use became outdated. The term is clearly politicaly incorect, and given that irish people dont like it, it's hardly prudent to have an article on it without making this matter clear - doing otherwise would be to supress the truth. someone mentioned that this article should be about geography and not about politics - well sorry to say but, geography is based on politics - you cant say that kashmir is part of india without mentioning that it's disputed by pakistan now can you. Bob

The term British Isles dates back to Roman times at least. It was not invented by British people as it predated the foundation of the British state by many, many centuries. Indeed, the British state chose the adjective "British" to describe itself precisely because it was a pre-existing and long-established geographical term. So "most" Irish people find it amusing that we still use the term British Isles, do they? Well I find it amusing that the Irish can get so worked up over a basic misunderstanding, namely that the "British" in British Isles refers to the British state - which it doesn't. If the Irish want to get annoyed over something, then they ought to complain that the British state has stolen the word "British" for its own use. TharkunColl 07:40, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

The 'Problems with modern usage and controversy' covers this fine. With the terminoilogy and caveats all over the place, Wikipedia goes more than out of its way to note the problems with this term. Robdurbar 09:22, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm Irish but I have done my schooling in England and Ireland. I can tell you now that in Ireland "British Isles" generally does not refer to Ireland, but in England it does. Now I know there are instances in Ireland where this is incorrect, however the general feeling is correctly detailed within this wiki article and NPOV stands. -

Legal Term

The only legal term recognised by both the UK and Irish governments when referring to the Archipeligo is 'these Islands.' Strand Three, The Agreement, 10/04/1998. There are many precedents for geographical terms (e.g. Benelux, Central Europe, North America etc.) being legally and politically recognised - the 'British Isles' is not one of them. The term is not used in legislation in either jurisdiction.

The term 'British' Isles is not purely geographic no matter how hard one may attempt to protest that it is - it has geo-political implications. Ireland is NOT a British Isle, however, it is a part of the same archipeligo as Great Britain. The term 'British' Isles is unacceptable when referring to Ireland under any circumstances; whether they be purely geographic, political, legal etc.

One cannot escape the English language definition of British i.e. of or relating to the island of Great Britain or the United Kingdom, or to its people or language. Under this basic definition how can Ireland be deemed a British Isle? It is a complete non sequitur. Ireland is not British thus is not a part of the 'British' Isles. Ireland's identity is Irish and European - it certainly is not British. Iolar Iontach

"The term is not used in legislation in either jurisdiction" is verifiably untrue; see this google search. The rest may or may not be true, but is irrelevant. Whether you feel that people are reasonable to refer to the British Isles or not, they do. It's the most commonly used name for the area among English speaking people, and so that's what the article has to be called. I can type this paragraph as many times as you like. --Khendon 19:39, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

From reading the statutes which you have provided it is clear that Ireland is no longer included in the term. The majority of the statutes which you have are amendments which support my previous claim that the 'British' Isles is not a legal term in either jurisdiction. It was in the UK but is not any longer. British Isles has been substituted for British Islands and Republic Of Ireland (sic) or the United Kingdom, Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland (sic). The Education (Listed Bodies) Order, 1997 refers to a theological college known as British Isles Nazarene College. The name of a 3rd level institution does not qualify it as a legal term.

I might draw your attention to the fact that the legislation you have provided gets the name of Ireland wrong - the name of Ireland is quite simply Ireland (Art 4, Bunreacht na hÉireann, 1937). The Republic of Ireland is only a description of the type of government in place in Ireland (s2 Republic of Ireland Act, 1948). If the UK government has difficulty understanding what the name of one of its closest European neighbours is it isn't any wonder that its citizenry has difficulty comprehending the fact that Ireland is NOT a British Isle?

'These Isles' is the only legal term used in BOTH jurisdictions. I agree that it is rather vague but it is more acceptable than the misnomer the 'British' Isles. I refer you again to the definition of British in the de facto official language of the United Kingdom. (As a lawyer I am aware that the UK does not actually have an official language). It is a non sequitur to refer to Ireland as a 'British' Isle. If your own language negates your views why do you insist upon them? Why do you insist upon including Ireland in an anachronistic term? If the consensus in Ireland (I include the UK region of Northern Ireland in this) is that it is not a 'British' Isle, why must you insist upon referring to it as such? One could consider it as tantamount to an attack on Irish sovereignty - I do not but I find it quite humorous that the British can be so ill-informed and arrogant.

Also, Google is an excellent tool if used correctly. One should actually read its results instead of posting a link at a cursory glance. Iolar Iontach

In this case, a cursory glance is all that was required, since the point of contention was whether the term is used in legislation; there are some instances of it still being used, therefore my point is proven. Use as a legal term, and your views on what is a "non sequitir" are only side issues anyway. The real issue remains that the islands are a geographical grouping that deserves a wikipedia article, and "British Isles" is the most (and indeed only) commonly used name. What exactly is it you want to do - remove the article? Rename it to "These Isles"? I hope you can see both are clearly absurd. --Khendon 07:31, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
The term the ‘British Isles’ as describe by Wikipedia (ie to include the state the Republic of Ireland) is not used by the UK state in their legislation. Or are you trying to make out the UK still has a claim on the Republic of Ireland? I can type this paragraph as many times as you like. Monucg 19:07, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

'These Isles' is extremely common in Irish media and Ireland in general; see what I have just googled. It gets more hits in than British Isles. To claim that 'British Isles' is the only commonly used term for the archipeligo is extremely anglocentric. The term has been replaced in all UK legislation (in which it was used) to my knowledge. Nowhere have I said that the article should be removed or renamed, however, problems with usage should be more prominent in the article. I trust we are all agreed that a significant proportion of citizens in the archipeligo have difficulty with the term? Same should receive more prominence; perhaps in an article about 'these Isles.' When the name for the archipeligo is formally changed will you have difficulty accepting that? The non sequitur, which I point out is not a side issue, it relates to the English language definition of the adjective in question. Your own language negates your claims. Can you not recognise that referring to Ireland as a British Isle is clearly absurd? Also just because a term is in 'common' parlance does not make it correct. 'These Isles' is legally defined in Strand Three p2 of the Agreement, this definition was used in the establishment of the British-Irish Council (N.B. it is NOT the British Isles Council) and it is in currency in Ireland. It is vague but it merits an article. I would argue that 'Britain and Ireland' is more common than the 'British Isles' when referring to entire archipeligo. The Manx and Channel Islanders are British Citizens (Interpretation Act, 1978 & British Nationality Act, 1981) after all thus it is accurate, inclusive and neutral. Iolar Iontach

But the term "British Isles" has nothing to do with the British state, and predates it by well over a thousand years. The naming influence was entirely in the other direction. When the British state chose to call itself Great Britain after the union of England and Scotland, it did so because Britain was already a geographical term that had been in use since at least Roman times (in various languages). The references in the article prove the use of "British Isles" to have always included Ireland. To reject it on the basis of a misunderstanding is pure ignorance, and does not deserve to be taken seriously. TharkunColl 23:41, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
No, British (and Roman occupation that liked to talk up its conquests) notation has always included Ireland. Irish notation has not done so. --Red King 00:00, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
The term esisted long before there were any "British" or "Irish" nationalities. It is derived from Classical usage. The article even quotes the sources. TharkunColl 00:02, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The use of 'British' Isles in a language indigenous (English) to same is not classical it is relatively recent c.1600. There is no equivalent term in Irish. If we are using classical sources to justify the name, why not refer to Ireland as Hibernia, France as Gaul and the sun revolving around the earth? Utter nonsense. We have increased our knowledge since Greco-Roman times. Iolar Iontach

The vast majority of the inhabitants of Ireland speak English rather than Irish. Thank you for accepting that "British Isles" is the correct term in the English language. TharkunColl 09:15, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The First Official Language of Ireland is Irish (Art 8 s1, Bunreacht na hÉireann) and just to say that it had been used in English does not mean it is correct. I never accepted that it is correct just pointed out that the term was never used in the supposed area until c1600. It is not a purely geographic term, it is a misnomer that has political implications. Why is that so difficult for you to understand? Iolar Iontach

It is you, and those who propose similar views, who have wilfully failed to grasp the true significance of the term. Read the article and you will see that the term, in Latin, predates c. 1600 by many, many centuries. The term "Great Britain" was chosen to describe the new unified kingdom of England and Scotland precisely because it was a pre-existing geographical designation, not the other way round, and one that was resisted in England for quite a long time. "British Isles" is a neutral term with no political significance, and it is only misguided Irish nationalists who have imbued it with such. When I use it I am making no statement whatever about the political arrangements that exist within the British Isles, either now or at any point in the past. On the other hand, all the proposed alternatives - IONA, or Anglo-Celtic Isles, are laden with political judgements imposed mainly by ignorance, and I refuse to take seriously any such bastardisation of our language. And whatever the constitutional status of Irish in Ireland, the fact remains that only a tiny minority can speak it. In this context am not in the slightest bit interested in whether the Irish language has a term for the British Isles or not - this is, after all, an English encyclopedia, and in English the term is British Isles. TharkunColl 15:48, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Your argument is dead in the water. I'm not an Irish nationalist yet I object to the term - I am entirely satisfied (actually happy) for Northern Ireland's constitutional status as an integral part of the UK to remain in perpetuity. It's non-usage in Ireland is certainly not determined by political stance, it is determined by the fact that Ireland is not British. This is due to our understanding of the English Language. The Pretannic Isles is not the same as 'British' Isles which you have great difficulty comprehending; 'British' refers only to the island of Great Britain, 'Pretannic' refers to Great Britain, Ireland and surrounding Islands excluding the Channel Islands.

Irish is not spoken by a tiny minority either, up to 40% of the population claims to speak it to some degree. The ignorance of Britons is bewildering at times; it is not a neutral term and to believe that it has no geo-political connotations is at best naive and ignorant, at worst arrogant and stupid. To believe that this is an English encyclopedia is just plain bizarre - this is the English LANGUAGE version of an internet Encyclopedia. The English language is not yours either, you do realise that English has been 'bastardised' to a huge extent over the centuries already, don't you? To claim that, 'Islands of the North Atlantic' is laden with political judgements' and 'bastardising' the language is just absurd and merits no further comment. I am sure you are entirely blissful in your ignorance. Iolar Iontach

"British" is derived from the Celtic word "Pretannic" and its variants. To say that the "Pretannic Isles" include Ireland, but the "British Isles" do not, is a gross absurdity, since the two terms are both etymologically and linguistically identical. Only those with a political agenda would refuse to recognise this. TharkunColl 09:09, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

That's the funny thing about language - it evolves; British does not refer to Ireland under any definition, whereas Pretanic does/did. To state that the word, which is derived from Pretanic does not refer to Ireland is factual not absurd Iolar Iontach

The best that can be said for your position is that the term British Isles is going (or has gone) out of fashion amongst the Irish. It is still in common usage among the much larger population of Great Britain (to mean both Great Britain and Ireland), not to mention English speakers all over the world. You are therefore arguing for a minority dialectical variant. TharkunColl 10:48, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

'larger population of Great Britain (to mean both Great Britain and Ireland)' Ireland is certainly not a part of Great Britain. This is basic Geography, Great Britain is an island in North-Western Europe; Ireland is not a part of Great Britain. That statement makes your whole exegesis (I use the word advisedly) invalid. Complete and utter nonsense, I would love to have your ignorance as life would be much more blissful. Iolar Iontach

Can you actually read English? Where did I say that Ireland is part of Great Britain? TharkunColl 12:37, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes and I can punctuate it correctly too. You wrote "It is still in common usage among the much larger population of Great Britain (to mean both Great Britain and Ireland)" - parantheses after Great Britain. If you didn't intend to say "Great Britain - to mean both Great Britain and Irelan," the parentheses should have come after "common usage." Iolar Iontach

The fact that you jumped to such a conclusion indicates a level of sensitivity on your part that is unjustified by what I actually said. TharkunColl 15:25, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

I do think that the etymology is a bit irrelevant here. The British Isles clearly has its problems, but cannot be considered anymore problomatic than 'these isles' - in that search, at least 3 of the first 10 results of these isles are not referring to the British Isles. Indeed, when searching for 'these isles' as a phrase you get just 387 results (on pages from Ireland), compared to 62 400 for 'British Isles'.
That said, only one occaision of this term is found on the irish government's website. But please, if you feel that this page overstates the use of BI in Ireland, be bold! and re write some of it. The worst that can happen is that someone will remove your comments; but if you write well and fair, then you may improve the article. Robdurbar 09:26, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

The first result on the first page of the search for 'British Isles' as a phrase on is for a Celtic jewellry shop in Co. Leitrim, I can find no reference to the 'British Isles' on their site. Only five of the webpages end in .ie and two of those are e-bay. "These Isles" has 100 results on (The Irish Times website). I would say that makes it fairly common given the results above were deemed common re: British Isles. Britain and Ireland is far away the most common - over 1,000 results on and 60,000 on, this phraseology is accurate, neutral and inclusive. Iolar Iontach

Agreed. But that doesn't stop Wikipedia from needing an entry on British Isles, and it doesnt stop British Isles from being the most common term in the English language as a whole. Britain and Ireland provide just 63 million of the world's english speakers, most of whom are more likely to know and use British Isles Robdurbar 12:17, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the article re: the British Isles is required but that does not make the actual term factually accurate.Iolar Iontach 12:33, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
I've made a few edits to promote 'Britain and Ireland' up the page based on this discussion. Robdurbar 12:22, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Britain & Ireland

'Britain & Ireland' is in common parlance when referring to the entire archipeligo. That is the justification being used for 'British Isles' thus it should be adequate for 'Britain & Ireland' and 'these Isles/Islands.' The Channel Islands are only included by convention in the 'British Isles' anyway so the argument that they cannot be included in 'Britain & Ireland' is invalid and PoV. They along with the Isle of Man are constituents of the British-Irish Council. The definition of 'these Isles' in Strand Three of the Agreement is what was used to establish the authority. It thus follows that the proper nouns relating to the adjectives British and Irish and 'these Isles' are applicable, they have the added advantage of being neutral and thus inoffensive. See British-Irish Councilfor further details.Iolar Iontach

As a matter of fact I would discount the Channel Islands as being part of the British Isles, because it is clear that geographically they are much closer to France. Let me give you some hypothetical examples of usage:

The use of farming spread to the British Isles during the fifth millennium BC.

During the early medieval period, the British Isles contained a number of often mutually hostile kingdoms.

The British Isles have only experienced a unified government for little more than a century, and no longer do so.

Two sovereign nations exist within the British Isles, both of which are members of the EU.

In none of these cases can you substitute "Britain and Ireland" without making your sentence sound strained and artificial. TharkunColl 15:34, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

The aestethics of a term do not reduce the fact that it is probably the most commonly used alternative, and least difficult, paticularly if Britain is understood as a synonym for the UK, as it is often - somewhat inaccurately, admittadly - used. In the end, neither term is perfect. Both are used. The article describes the technicalities of terms. What else does anybody want? This is not a discussion page about what terms are correct to use, and if it continues to be use dso - i.e., inappropriatly as a forum and not as a page to disucuss improcements to the aritcle - then, quite frnakly, bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh (that's me blowing a raspberry, by the way). Robdurbar

"Britain and Ireland" is only usually used when referring to the two states that exist within the British Isles, as in (for example): Britain and Ireland are the two European states that have a majority of English speakers. When speaking geographically, as with the examples I listed earlier, "British Isles" is the preferred term. I cannot emphasise this enough, because it appears to be incomprehensible to some. "British Isles" is a geographical term that not only long predated the British state, but was actually what that state derived its name from (not the other way round). Whatever certain Irish people may think, whenever a Briton uses the term he is not making any sort of political statement, and is absolutely not trying to imply that the Irish Republic is, or should be, under UK control. But if your argument is going to descend into blowing raspberries then I'm probably wasting my time in trying to point this out. TharkunColl 17:20, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I think you'll find that raspberries are clearly more helpfult than either yours or the other guy's arguments. Not once have either of you tried to compromise, to view things from the other's point of view. Why not acutally make some constructive comments - things that you want to remove instead of making arguments which neither of you listen too and which, whilst both making valid points, are of no relevance as they do not cotnribute to improving the article which is the point of this talk page. Robdurbar 17:25, 25 February 2006 (UTC)
And the raspberry was there to keep things light-hearted. Let's remember its only Wikipedia Robdurbar 17:39, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

I think I have compromised; I am accepting that British Isles is in common parlance, however, it remains inaccurate and have re-added Britain and Ireland (the most neutral alternative) to the article. Iolar Iontach

"Les Isles d'outre-mer" would be a possible replacement. After all, that would take care of the commonality of the Norman heritage and the issue of the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands are of course, as other commentators have added, adjacent to France and referring to them as being part of the British Isles might, dare I say it, indicate not a geographical but political dimension to the use of the term "British Isles".

I'm sure that it would emphatically not be regarded as political and I can't stress that enough. Though it might be a little incomprehensible to those of us who are not au fait with the delicacies of the French tongue.;)

The bit about "Whatever certain Irish people may think, whenever a Briton uses the term he is not making any sort of political statement.." Hmmm. Let's take the proverbial man on the proverbial Clapham omnibus, is he or isn't he (wearing Impulse, we don't know but what about his political motivation)?

Loath as I am to refer to the tv but here goes. A program on the Beeb a year or two ago about the genetic origins of people in Britain. A pure example of "an Ancient Briton" could be found by analysing the people of Castlerea, County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland. Now the Briton in question is becoming ambiguous. Obviously in temporal terms and substantively in other ways he can't be the Briton on the Clapham omnibus. Though genetically, he could be related (and could indeed be an omnibus driver.

There are plenty of examples, if you care to look, where the whole of Ireland is subsumed into the greater whole. For example, "across the country", "here in the South of Ireland" in a Channel 5 weather forecast I saw a few days ago which was bereft of the landmass to the south and east of Britain. I won't mention the addition of County Donegal to Northern Ireland in the BBC News map of drought a couple of days ago.Doh!

A little sidestep I know but (and this is a direct quote from the [UK Parliament]Ireland Act 1949):

"the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom or in any colony, protectorate or United Kingdom trust territory, whether by virtue of a rule of law or of an Act of Parliament or any other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, and references in any Act of Parliament, other enactment or instrument whatsoever, whether passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, to foreigners, aliens, foreign countries, and foreign or foreign-built ships or aircraft shall be construed accordingly."

Of course, the self-same Act includes: "In this Act “the United Kingdom” includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man."

So, the terms in use can be quite elastic but the import is fairly (?) obvious. "British Isles" is one of those terms like "British Lions" (bye, bye), "Home Nations" etc. You can go to the following URL to read an excellent example of the prevailing confusion abounding in these islands:

"Hungary were not even the first side to beat England at Wembley; Scotland already had done that four times. Nor were they the first side from outside the United Kingdom to beat England at home; the Republic of Ireland did that in 1949. They were, however, the first foreign side to beat England at Wembley, no mean feat."

So if the average Briton is "absolutely not trying to imply that the Irish Republic is, or should be, under UK control" he may think it is British as there is obviously more to Britain than the UK in his/her mind and he/she thinks that Hungary is foreign and the Republic of Ireland isn't.

The law you refer to, stating that the Irish Republic was not to be regarded as a foreign country, was brought about when it decided to leave the Commonwealth. Since there are, and have been for centuries, a very large number of Irish people living and working in Great Britain, this was done for their benefit. It ensured that they were still eligible to remain here, vote here, receive NHS treatment here, etc. In short, it meant that all Irish people living in the UK received all the benefits of British citizenship. It was an act of generosity that was not, I believe, reciprocated until both Ireland and the UK joined the EEC, at which point the Irish had no choice.
Personally speaking, I don't regard Irish people as "foreigners" in the same sense as I would, say, the French or Germans. They are like the Scots or Welsh, not English but not foreign either. Indeed, I have had far more interaction with Irish people than with Scots or Welsh. I realise that by saying this I am opening myself up for allegations of being patronising at best, offensive at worst, but neither of these are part of my intention. It is simply a fact, that's all. TharkunColl 09:55, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
I think we reciprocated earlier than that. Certainly it is the case that British citizens resident in Ireland have rights beyond those of other EU citizens, particularly in relation to voting - they can vote in Dail elections, while other EU residents can only vote in local and EU elections. (Obviously it is the same the other way round, Irish UK residents have a vote in commons elections.) -- Blorg 14:57, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, Irish people are foreigners in relation to Britain. That is the fact of the matter. Wkhat you refer to is opinion; both yours and your government's. Your government does not regard them as such but it is also incapable of using the correct, internationally recognised name for the country in UK statutes, which somewhat invalidates its opinion. Irish people are not British thus they should be considered as foreign as French and the Germans. Ireland has a rather significant thing called national sovereignty which impedes it (or its citizens) from being considered British at any time, under any circumstances. This is a rather basic concept that school children in Ireland have little difficulty comprehending in Civil, Social & Political Education. Iolar Iontach

Notions of "foreigness" don't have to follow modern political boundaries, you know. How about Korea, or Germany until fairly recently? Or even Ireland itself, come to think of it. Do you regard the inhabitants of Northern Ireland as foreign, even the Nationalists? Well you should, if you adhere to your own definition. As far as I'm concerned, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales form a family of home nations that, through shared history and geographical proximity, cannot be considered foreign to each other. Narrow nationalists may disagree, but that doesn't affect how most people think. And perhaps the British Govt. use "Republic of Ireland" in their statutes so as to avoid confusion with the island as a whole. Don't be so quick to ascribe ignorance when there might be a perfectly good practical reason.TharkunColl 18:03, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Narrow nationalists may disagree, but that doesn't affect how most people think.

Surely you mean how most British people think?Superdude99 14:02, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

I do not view people from Northern Ireland as foreign, as Articles 2 & 3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (not a mere statute) do not view them as such. Ireland is not a home nation - it is not a constituent of the UK thus cannot be considered as one. Ireland is a state, which is internationally recognised - England; Scotland; Wales; and Northern Ireland are nations/regions that constitute the state of the UK. This is a fundamental difference and has nothing to do with politics - it's constitutional law. Iolar Iontach

If it's okay for a sovereign state (Ireland) to make laws with regard to the non-foreigness of citizens of another sovereign state (the UK - i.e. Northern Ireland), then surely it's okay for the UK to legislate to the effect that Irish citizens are also not to be regarded as foreign? In any case, most of the Irish people I've spoken to - and we have countless thousands in the city where I live - take a similar view to mine as to the familial nature of the relationship between the four nations that inhabit the British Isles. Perhaps it's only the ones that choose to live in England that tend to think that way, but I can only go on personal experience. My views about nationality and foreigness obviously don't correspond precisely to current political borders, but then why should they? Borders are only artificial constructs, and none more so than the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. I don't believe it was right to arbitrarily partition Ireland like that, and I feel that some sort of confederation between the four nations would have been the best thing to do, though I accept that that's probably impossible now. I truly think that with goodwill on all sides, decades of violence and bad feeling could have been avoided. The fact is that for centuries, if not millennia, the people of the British Isles have been bound to each other by ties of geography, commerce, and culture, and there has never really been a time without substantial population movements between them. TharkunColl 18:24, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

People born in Northern Ireland are entitled to Irish citizenship; in accordance with the Irish Nationality & Citizenship Act, 2004 (with some constraints) - it is not conferred upon them against their will and a substantial proportion of people from Northern Ireland view themselves solely as Irish. It is thus appropriate for the constitutuion to acknowledge this. The citizenry of Ireland (state) does not consider itself as British, nor does its constitution thus it is entirely inappropriate and factually inaccurate for the UK government to consider it as such. A confederation would not have been acceptable to Ireland. Not everyone wants to be British - the Irish have given many hints throughout the centuries that they do not want to be. Ireland is quite a succesful country and has a achieved its successes as a sovereign state. Ireland being considered as a Home Nation is just wrong. Iolar Iontach 18:54, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, I don't want to get into a political argument here, but I sincerely doubt that the UK government regards citizens of the Republic as British Citizens. The Act to which I referred granted Irish citizens resident in the UK all the rights of British citizenship, without actually being so. As I said before, this was an act of generosity, not some plot to re-take Ireland. My point about confederation was as an alternative to partition, as was proposed at the time, but this was prevented by the First World War and German support for Irish extremists. As I said, I think things have gone too far to heal the wounds now, which is a great pity. TharkunColl 19:11, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

British and Irish Citizens (not British Nationals) are not regarded as aliens by either jurisdiction. They remain foreign however. Iolar Iontach

The crux of the issue is the regarding of the two states and peoples as being foreign (or not) to each other. Most people on the larger island do not see an issue with the use of the term "British Isles" as they see "British" as being a supra-national term covering constituent nationalities. It isn't a case of it being "incomprehensible to some" or "certain Irish people". The term is in use partly because of beliefs such as the Irish "are like the Scots or Welsh, not English but not foreign either". The incomprehensibility lies with the inability to see why people who are proximate and speak English wouldn't want to be British or live on a British Isle.

As for "four nations" I suppose you could ignore references to two nations existing in Northern Ireland, as you would have to because that would make five nations not four, or two altogether, the Irish nation and the British nation.

By the way, there already was a confederation, it was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (and we didn't want to be in it).It was the federation of the Kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland, plus the principality of Wales.The UK is a federal state, not something that people care to acknowledge in the UK too often though.(Perhaps because that might seem a little incongruous when complaining about the "federal EU superstate".) It is not governed uniformly by the same laws throughout, nor does it have the same systems of education throughout. (Ignore the differences in banknotes, the ones in Scotland and the North are Monopoly money, not legal tender anywhere.)

I think there may have been a little bit more to partition than the "First World War and German support for Irish extremists". Both Unionism and Republicanism predate the First World War. The proposed secession of Ireland from the Union was an issue that split the British Liberal Party in the nineteenth century and it has has never recovered from it. Though it isn't a topic that most people in Britain would be able to tell you much about, basically because it isn't mentioned much in Britain (a bit like a lot of things that have passed between the two islands).

I refer my learned friend to the "two nations" mentioned earlier. There were and still are people who want to be both Irish and British and those who want to be solely Irish. That is why you can occasionally hear Northern Ireland Unionists referring to themselves as "Irish" when they are referring to themselves as British Irish in the context of a constituent nationality of the UK. While they would object to being called "Irish" if it means solely Irish and not also being British. Though since the late 1960s self-indentification as Irish has declined amongst Protestants due to a further delineation of the political importance of the terms "British" and "Irish", which hasn't been replicated to the same extent in Great Britain. Hence why people from England can cause unintentional offence to some Northern Ireland Protestants by calling them "Irish".

Talking about the quasi-familial relationship between the peoples of these islands doesn't alter the political dimension of the term in use. You could try telling someone on the Shankill Road that they are "Irish" or someone in the Ardoyne that they are "British" to test that; but I wouldn't advise it. Plenty of people in the UK would probably not regard Afro-Caribbeans or Pakistanis as foreigners because of a shared history. I'm sure that the same could be said of folks in Alsace-Lorraine who might not regard Germans as true foreigners but wouldn't tell you that they weren't living in France.

Perhaps, eventually, the term "British Isles" will go the way of "British Lions" or "British Commonwealth".

Nothing you say is in any way relevant. The term "British Isles" predates the formation of the British state. If anything, the Irish should be pissed off at the British state for appropriating the term "British", rather than the other way round. Read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and you will discover that the British and English were enemies. TharkunColl 08:01, 5 March 2006 (UTC)


I'm gonna at least question this merge, on the grounds that the Brit Isles terminology is a useful page. I fear that, though there are clearly benefits to a merge, much of the useful content of the terminolgoy page would be lost in such a process. For now, then, Im against it, but could be won over. Robdurbar 16:57, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

BI (T) provides a useful page to direct to that has no other concerns, than recognising different terminolgoy wihtin the British Isles, some of which would not be relevant to a British Isles page. Robdurbar 16:59, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
With all the concerns about Ireland being confused with the UK the last thing we want is a link to an article about the entire British Ises from the top of the UK article. We need a special article to keep the distictions clear. josh (talk) 17:49, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Merge and interlink

There is apparently a great deal of (largely unreferenced) controversy over usage and meaning of toponyms as evidenced by Traditional counties of the British Isles, British Islands, British Isles, British Isles (terminology), Britain and Ireland, Islands of the North Atlantic and Brythonic or Anglo-Celtic Archipelago. Why not merge articles with quasi-identical content, and then provide mutual links to the articles that arguably and evidently do not mean the same thing. //Big Adamsky 18:47, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Could you explain this one further? Are we (baisically) talking about an extended disambiguation page Robdurbar 19:08, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes why not? Or maybe combine articles that explain how different names are used to refer to the same region, while clearly pointing out how some terms differ or who opposes the usage of which terms and what alternative terms are preferredn instead. //Big Adamsky 19:29, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree that their is merit for a well written British Isles article, but this idea that a whole article is required simply to explain the different terms is confusing, and strange - and pov that we select British Isles for this priviledge. It undermines the basis for good, well researched articles- that are to the point. It sets a precident. Before someone points out the fact that I am Irish, I am not one of the editors that use these talk pages to push an anti-British agenda. Djegan 20:32, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Ok; then for me a well-done merge could remove the pov issues, whilst the existenece of a terminology article is probably a result of a weakness in this article. A poorly done merge would damage wikipedia. In the end, if it goes ahead and doesn't really work, it can always be undone. Robdurbar 18:49, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Undoing the merge will be a lot of work if any other editing has taken place during the merging - and there's going to be a lot of that because this is going to take time. DirkvdM 08:02, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I started the terminology article because there was a need to give a good quick overview of what's what in the British Isles. I managed to somewhat sort this out for myself, combining bits of info from various articles and then decided I might as well turn the overview into an article. The fact that I needed to do this means there is a need for the overview, especially for people not from the Isles. What counts most is the first overview. As long as that bit is at the top of an obvious page (such as this one) I don't really care too much, although I'd prefer to keep the article. It seems a useful and logical collection of info. Mind you, I'm serious about the overview (as it is now) appearing at the very top. If that doesn't happen, I oppose the merge. DirkvdM 08:02, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

Another issue is whether a merge would result in more offence - people who disagree with the term might be more comfortable being directed to a page with 'terminology' in the title, rather than straight to the BI page Robdurbar 09:12, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm unsure about the need to merge these two articles. Don't get me wrong: to increase their utility, each can stand for significant pruning and refocusing (particularly British Isles (terminology)). Ideally, British Isles should be an overview of the archipelago/entity in toto – particularly when dealing with common notions of geography, history, or sociopolitics (with specific notions being dealt with in their respective articles) – while British Isles (terminology) should serve as a concise article clarifying relevant terms and definitions ... essentially retain everything before the table of contents and significantly prune or nix everything below. The historical aspects and chart of constituent states, for instance, might be more appropriate in articles regarding those political entities or in just the British Isles article.

Similarly, I and others recently developed Americas (terminology) – whose title was inspired by the current topic – which is meant to concisely clarify the various terms and entities in the Americas. As well, this was partially borne out of a desire to end incessant edit warring at the America DAB, in which any number of Wikipedians were either disatisfied with the order of entries (North America/South America, USA) or wanted to include a plethora of others that detract from the function of the DAB (e.g., the region of Central America). While I'm not necessarily suggesting a similar retrofit here, they may prove helpful in improving articles for these topics about entities across the pond.

And as for offending he or she, this should be minimised if verifiable sources are cited ... few of which appear herein (and something kept in the forefront when developing Americas (terminology)). E Pluribus Anthony | talk | 21:48, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Well given that there has been no comment for a week, and no consensus, I'll remvoe the suggested merge tag.... Robdurbar 11:03, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Usage of the Term in Ireland

It is a myth that the term is not being used in Ireland. Goto Google and search for pages only in Ireland. "British Isles" gets 64,000. Anglo Celtic Archipelago only gets 4 (all at wiki Ireland). josh (talk) 19:03, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

"Britain and Ireland" gets 91,300 which can be added to the 14,700 that "Britain & Ireland" gets. Iolar Iontach 01:52, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Britain and Ireland is not a term for the British Isles. I'm sure you would get a lot of hits for Canada and USA as well. It also ignores the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. josh (talk) 16:50, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
"Britain and Ireland" is used to refer to the entire archipelago. The adjective British does not refer to Ireland ever. "Britain and Ireland" could be deemed more accurate than British Isles due to this fact alone. The Citizens of the Crown Dependencies are also British citizens and the dependencies are part of the collective name the British Islands. It thus follows that the nouns from which British and Ireland are derived are applicable. How you can consider the nomenclature British Isles which does not refer to the entire archipelago more accurate than "Britain and Ireland" which does is beyond me. Iolar Iontach 17:14, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Britain refers to the whole archipelago. The political states are the United Kingdom and Ireland. The confusion comes with the informal use of Britain for the UK. This use does not include the any of the Crown Depedencies and so the term "Britain and Ireland" would usually be taken to refer to the two states. The British Isles (based on the pre-state geographical term) is the only well known term to cover the whole archipelago. josh (talk) 19:09, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
Britain refers to the whole archipelago. You can't be serious!! Britain does not refer to the entire archipelago. You contradict yourself in the above comment. The adjectives "British" and "Irish" are used in the name of the "British-Irish Council" in which all the jurisdictions within the archipelago are represented. If the adjectives that are derived from the nouns "Britain" and "Ireland" are acceptable, it so follows that the said nouns are acceptable. The term "Britain and Ireland" is far more acceptable than British Isles which is a misnomer. Iolar Iontach 01:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
The confusion is the double usage of Britain (similar to the double usage of America). It is informally used for the political state but it is derived from the original geographical term of Britain. Why do you think the larger of the two main islands is called Great Britain? Look at some medival maps of the islands. They all refer to them as Britannia Insula (or a variant of).
The problem with Britain & Ireland is that it clearly refers to the two modern states (caused by the inclusion of the state of Ireland). So if you refer to the people of Britain & Ireland it rules out 2 thousand years of history. British Isles is a geograpical term dating back to 70 AD when the Romans first discovered we were islands. josh (talk) 16:04, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Classical knowledge of geography was patchy at best. The Romans referred to France as Gaul, and Ireland as Hibernia. Are we denying 2,000 years of history by referring to them as France and Ireland? It was also heresy to believe that the earth was not the centre of the universe until fairly recently; are we wrong to believe that it isn't? The term "Islands of the Ocean" was used in the archipeligo prior to British Isles; if we are relying on Classical sources to justify a misnomer then at least use ones from the archipelago. Language evolves: Britain never refers to Ireland; it is either ignorance or stupidity to suggest that it does. Iolar Iontach 16:43, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Then what the hell are these maps refering to. josh (talk) 17:18, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Several of them refer to Anglia, Scotia and Hibernia. By your logic we are somehow denying history by referring to these nations and state as England, Scotland and Ireland respectively. I also do not think that 16th, 17th, 18th & 19th century maps could be defined as Classical in anybody's eyes. Iolar Iontach 17:27, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
The point is that they refer to the term Britainnica well before the establishment of the state of the same name. What would you refer to as classical maps then. The earlest ones were only date back to 14th century. My point about Britain & Ireland is that it would be a bit odd to state that the Celts lived in Britain & Ireland. josh (talk) 17:59, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
In most people's understanding the term "Classical" refers to Ancient Greece and Rome i.e. circa 7th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.; yor maps are 1,200 years later. "Britain and Ireland" is a commonly used term when referring to the entire archipelago; it is more neutral than British Isles and it includes the Crown Dependencies by default. The citizens of the Crown Dependencies are British, they are represented in the British-Irish Council. It follows that the noun from which the adjective British is derived is wholly appropriate to refer to them. Iolar Iontach 13:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I think we should be careful before we attempt to interpret crude statistics, thats the whole .ie domain we are checking. It proves the term is relatively common in the .ie domain, that does not follow that the term is common in Ireland. Djegan 21:09, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
What Djegan has said should even be evident to anyone who is familiar with the popular or even semi-popular Ireland-based internet... Anyway, the listings for the term in Google with “pages from Ireland” turns up a number of misleading finds if you don’t actually look at the results in detail. It goes from an obscure online gift shop (which looks to be aimed at tourists etc), to historic references, to an Irish Parliament debate which is sidetracked because someone’s use of the term which she is lambasted for and the Chair responds saying “The Chair is not asking Deputy Molloy to withdraw for the reason that these are political references”. Monucg 19:29, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, and even more unusual it only returns c. 40,600 results when you search .ie by google[1]. The internet is simply "a tool". Djegan 09:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Some one should tell the Irish government that it your not allowed to use it as well[2].

As Monucg has said several of those debates concern a TD's use of the term which was objected to. Several also refer to the British Isles and assume that Ireland is not included in the term. The Irish government and debates in the legislature are completely different. The term is not legally recognised in Ireland. Iolar Iontach 13:21, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

(Mis)appropriation of the term IONA by the BNP

Is this a necessary piece of information in the article? It definitely taints the neutrality of the article. The BNP also use the adjective British to affirm their Britishness, however this is not anywhere in the article. Iolar Iontach 14:33, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Just thought that it was interesting rather than anything else - its something that I wasn't aware of and discovered when researching for the BNP article. Its true, and it provides a bit of reflective context, as the it shows that all terms - even those picked through a painstaking search for neutrality - are potentially misleading/political, not just the term 'British Isles' Robdurbar 15:39, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree it is interesting but the most politically loaded term on the page is British followed closely by British Isles. If we are to reference usage of IONA by the BNP then surely it is wholly appropriate to reference usage of British by same and Enoch Powell etc. Iolar Iontach 16:46, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
You are once again making the erroneous assumption that the word "British" in "British Isles" means the same as "British" in most other contexts. It is quite clear that it doesn't, otherwise the term British Isles wouldn't exist.
Erroneous assumption. If you believe that it is such why not ask Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English dictionary to modify their definition as it is erroneous? Iolar Iontach 13:04, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Why not - it might explain the offence caused by the term more clearly to those who are unfamiliar with it Robdurbar 22:48, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Robdurbar - I have removed to references to Unionism and Enoch Powell because I do not believe that Powell desired the Union to re-extend to the whole of Ireland. I was referring more to his use of the word British in my above comment especially his belief that migration from the Commonwelath to the UK should be severely restricted in the 1970's; I was especially referring to the use of the word British by the BNP. Apologies for the confusion. Iolar Iontach

Okay - the term IONA was first invented in order to appease the IRA, and is currently favoured by the BNP? Hmmmm.... I wonder why people don't like it very much? TharkunColl 23:06, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

It's closer to the term originally used in the archipelago dating from the 6th century. Iolar Iontach 13:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC)


This is interesting. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution still covers the whole British Isles, regardless of the political arrangements since 1922. How odd... TharkunColl 23:29, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

RNLI is a is a charity (charities often operate across boundaries) and not a public authority. The Commissioners of Irish Lights is the public lighthouses authority for the island of Ireland (abeit a different function) and operates across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Djegan 09:54, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
In any case the RNLI objectives have probably more to do with retaining its operations in the area covered by the historic United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (i.e. the modern Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom) rather than the British Isles as per say. Djegan 10:24, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Just shows how useful the inclusive concept of the British Isles is per se: the UK seemed to be presented as not including Northern Ireland, so I've added a link there for clarification. The Irish Coast Guard page gives no indication of what country or countries it belongs to or serves, so perhaps someone could clarify that page. ..dave souza, talk 11:07, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
The term British Isles is useful in many contexts (I am Irish and I can openly admit that), however we must be careful that the context we use it in is valid and not simply a convenience or a wikipedia sponsored attempt at revitalising its usage. Djegan 11:14, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Fundementally we have to remember their is a relationship between Britain and Ireland that goes beyond simply "British Isles". Djegan 11:18, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
What does the RLNI have to do with the British Isles. Taken from their website:The RNLI is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland. There is no reference to the British Isles so this whole section is in Talk is irrelevant. I also believe that a term for the entire archipelago is required but the British Isles is a misnomer. Iolar Iontach 13:25, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Certainly it appears to be little beyond incidential. Djegan 13:41, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
It's only a misnomer if you assume "British" can only ever refer to the UK. But this is obviously not the case, as the word predated the UK by many centuries. Indeed, it was the politicians who created the UK in the 17th century who appropriated the word from a pre-existing geographical term, and not the other way round. It is interesting to note that the English establishment resisted the use of "British" for a very long time under the Stuarts, because to them it had too strong a Celtic flavour. TharkunColl 14:47, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
That is the definition; no assumption need be made. The English language has evolved - British does not refer to Ireland. If you have a problem with this then take it up with the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster. There is no need to mention British Columbia as the reasons why that is not a valid analogy have already been delineated to you. Iolar Iontach 15:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
The vast majority of English speakers, and the vast majority of speakers in the British Isles, use and understand the term. If certain people object, on whatever grounds, then they are only a tiny minority. I agree that the adjective British does not refer to Ireland - except in the ancient phrase "British Isles" - and I would never dream of calling an Irish person British. To call them "an inhabitant of the British Isles" is as far as I would go in that direction. Indeed, it could be argued that the term "British Isles", whatever its origins, in fact contains no adjective at all, and is actually a phrasal noun. But that is one for the linguists. TharkunColl 16:44, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Since when has the 17th century been considered ancient? I think that you will find that the vast majority of English speakers would not be able to locate the archipelago on a map, never mind use the term British Isles. What is the relevance of RLNI? It isn't a phrasal noun.Iolar Iontach 17:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
But what does the RNLI have to do with the British Isles apart from the suggestion that the RNLI saves lives in UK and ROI. We need more than vague suggestions, too much of what is on this talk page is dogma and jingoism (from both sides). Djegan 16:33, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
You insensitive clods who seem to think that British can't refer to Irish, please remember that there are many people who are proud to be Northern Irish AND proud to be British. A quick look in Category:Northern Irish Wikipedians found three already. ...dave souza, talk 19:10, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Well notwithstanding that I made no such British/Irish claims, thats (Northern Irish) a completely different matter to whats been discussed here. Djegan 19:23, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Northern Irish and Irish are different concepts. Northern Ireland is not a part of the state of Ireland. Iolar Iontach 00:01, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

<reduce indent> but it is part of the island, and people there consider themselves Irish. As well as having other multiple identities. This republican nationalist imperialism gets taken too far! By the way, are you now arguing that Northern Ireland is part of the British Isles, but Eire isn't? ...dave souza, talk 07:35, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I have never stated that Ireland is not a part of the archipelago. The use of "British" when referring to Ireland is inaccurate. I am not a republican nor a nationalist - I object to the use of a term which is a misnomer and has political connotations. The name of the state you refer to is Ireland; not Éire unless speaking Irish. Do you refer to Finland as Suomi when using English? It is somewhat ignorant of the facts to say that people in Northern Ireland refer to themselves as Irish. A minority of people in Northern Ireland view themselves as Irish. I trust that you are aware of the definition of "imperialism"; if anyone is being imperialist it is the proponents of this anachronistic term. Ireland is not a dependent territory of the UK hence it should never be referred to as "British" under any circumstances. Iolar Iontach 13:34, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
So here we have just the same mixing of terms that you're complaining about with "British Isles" not taking account of there being two separate states: Ireland the state isn't part of the UK, but part of Ireland the island is. The name being used for the state has a clear political connotation in relation to Republican Irish claims to the whole island. Of course the English term for the country is Southern Ireland, or alternatively the Republic of Ireland, and if you prefer me to use one of those rather than Eire, so be it. Evidently a good few Wikipedians are content to describe themselves as Northern Irish, and at least one considers himself Northern Irish (of the Provence), Irish (of the Island) and British (of the United Kingdom), viewing tri-nationality is one of the pluses of living in Northern Ireland. ..dave souza, talk 17:07, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I presume this is myself you're talking about (although I thought there were others in the exact same position as me). I should note that I do recognise the difference between nationality and ethnicity. I am British by nationality, and Irish by ethnicity. On top of that, being from Northern Ireland, I am therefore Northern Irish. I hope that's confusing enough! To illustrate though, I see it as being similar to this: an English person is English by ethnicity and British by nationality. Due to the old English nation, before it merged to create the United Kingdom, there is some justification for an English person to describe themselves as English by nationality also. --Mal 22:01, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
Could well be, hope that's ok with you. Meself, my preference is confused ethnicity, rather opposed to nationality but British if anything, while culturally definitely Scottish. Just that, being a crabbit old man, I find it irksome to have endless demands for extreme sensitivity to any labels peripherally relating to people who themselves blatantly ignore the sensitivities of many people sharing the same island. But no-one's perfect. ...dave souza, talk 23:36, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
I assure you that I am qualified to tell you that the name of the state is unambiguously Ireland. That is how it is internationally recognised and what it calls itself. The name of the island is not relevant to the name of the state. Southern Ireland is a different historical and geographical entity altogether. The most northern point on the island of Ireland is in Co. Donegal but compare these sentences: "The most northern point on the island of Ireland is in Ireland" vis à vis "The most northern point on the island is in the South or Southern Ireland"; the former is not a contradictory statement, hoever the latter is illogical. The republic of Ireland is only a description of the type of democracy present within Ireland. By referring to the state as anything other than Ireland you are playing into the hands of republicans; they never refer to it as Ireland as it is a repugnance to them to use the term which is dismissive of their goals . Many believe that it lessens their claims for a united Ireland.
I am not a republican and am quite offended that you allude to me being a republican propagandist. I do not want a united Ireland EVER, as although wealthier per capita it would be economically unviable for a country of Ireland's size to fund the region of Northern Ireland to the same extent as the UK. There are also too many social problems for us to even contemplate involving ourselves. I am very happy for Northern Ireland's constitutional status as an integral part of the UK to remain in perpetuity. Geographically, British does not refer to Northern Ireland; it refers to its people and political status - not the landmass, hence the name of the state "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If "British" refers to Northern Ireland the name of the state is needlessly repetitive - the United Kingdom of Great Britain would be sufficient.Iolar Iontach 00:44, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
No it wouldn't, unless you chopped Northern Ireland off the island of Ireland and attached it to the island of Great Britain. Bazza 11:17, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Bazza is correct - Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain. Is hasn't been part of Great Britain since the retreat of the last ice sheets.. and even then, the area was unlikely to have been called Great Britain. The problem arises from the notion that (Great) Britain infers British, while Ireland infers Irish, and that the names of the islands somehow infers that there are two different nations. The fact is that there were at least four 'nations', and now there are five since the Republic of Ireland separated. --Mal 22:52, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

Irish Gaelic

Just out of interest, and not because its relevent here (since this is an English language encyclopedia), but does anyone know what the Irish Gaelic word for the British Isles is? TharkunColl 16:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

There is no term for the archipelago in Irish. Just a made-up direct translation from the English one which is probably apt since the English term is a made-up translation from Latin dating from the ancient times of the 17th century!! It would be Oileáin Breatnacha. Iolar Iontach 17:59, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Would the term Oileáin Breatnacha ever be used amongst Irish Gaelic speakers in the same sense that we use "British Isles"? And how about Scots Gaelic and even Manx Gaelic? All very closely related languages spoken among people who live on the different major islands of the British Isles. Are you sure there is no pre-existing term in Gaelic? TharkunColl 23:22, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Almost 100% positive. The language is correctly known as Irish not Gaelic. It's Gaeilge in Irish. Iolar Iontach 23:58, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Just googled that term and it shows no results. There may be a term from "Old Irish" but I amn't aware of it. Iolar Iontach 00:07, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I suppose the term Oileáin Bhriotanacha could also be used as a direct translation from English to Irish. It is used in the Irish translation of the British Virgin Islands i.e. Oileáin Bhriotanacha na Maighdine. I can find no reference to Oileáin Bhriotanacha to mean the archipelago containing Great Britain & Ireland. Iolar Iontach 15:40, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Does anyone know the Welsh or Cornish term for the archipelago?Iolar Iontach 17:17, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
"Ynysoedd Prydain" in Welsh, but I don't think the term is much used these days Rhion 08:21, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

Confusion & Ambiguity in the British Isles

This Manx site seems to think that Ireland isn't a part of the British Isles when it says: "The Island’s tremendously varied scenery and architecture disguises itself as almost anywhere in the British Isles or Ireland". This British site doesn't mention Ireland either as being a constituent of them. This page from the BBC also refers to the "British Isles and Ireland" It is quite clear that confusion and ambiguity are rife in the UK and Crown Dependencies about whether Ireland is included in the term. How common is it for Ireland to be actually included in the term in the UK? Iolar Iontach 02:25, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Common, I would say. It's important to remeber the difference between people not thinking that Ireland is part of the British Isles, and people getting confused between the terms British Isles, United Kingdom, Great Britian, Britian and England. In reality, people use those 5 terms often interchangeably, even people who should know better. In any one case it need not have any other connotation than laziness/ignorance. Paticularly within the UK, then, I think the vast majority don't really think about it.

From the point of view of a student of glaciation, we always refer to the British Isles Ice Sheet covering the archipalego. Here are more sites that use the term for them both [3],[4]. To take the top ten results for 'British Isles', 3 appear to refer only to the uk (one of which includes Gibraltar and St Helena!!!), 5 to the whole thing and 2 which describe the terms (inclduing this page). Robdurbar 08:52, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

When I was at school, a long time ago, we were given the impression that the term "Britain" alone referred to just England and Wales - because it was derived from the Latin Britannia, the province of which never (usually) reached Scotland. "Great Britain" was Britain plus Scotland, and British Isles was Great Britain plus Ireland. TharkunColl 10:48, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I think it is entirely fair to say that such an ambiguous ans confusing phrase is best avoided.Iolar Iontach 11:56, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

Compared to any of the so-called alternatives, it is the very epitome of clarity and succinctness. Let's face it, even you understand it, even if you choose not to use it. TharkunColl 14:40, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Not sure if you are insulting me there. Of course I even understand the term. I also understand that it is a misnomer - it would be a waste of almost 5 years of post-graduate education if I didn't. Iolar Iontch 15:16, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
No insult was intended. I was simply making the point that even those who dislike the term and refuse to use it, still understand it - which means that it is indisputably part of the language. As for being a "misnomer" - language is not a mathematical formula, as I believe I've pointed out before. Terms exist, and that's just how it is. TharkunColl 15:51, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I agree that the term exists (if it didn't this article would be even more redundant), however, the existence of a term and its factual accuracy are entirely different concepts. In most of the world (even Ireland), "England" is used to refer to the entire UK and "English" is synonymous with British; it is not factually accurate but it exists. There is no article concerning this usage of the terms "England" and "English" which are in common parlance. Iolar Iontach 16:21, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm slightly surprised that such usage of the terms England/English (for UK/British) are in use in Ireland, but I'll take your word for it. Indeed, this could explain the antipathy felt by certain Irish people for the phrase British Isles, if to them the terms English and British are synonymous. I agree that outside the British Isles England and the UK are often confused, and I believe this fact is mentioned on a number of pages describing England and/or the UK. Unfortunately, however, the analogy is flawed. The confusion between England and the UK has come about because England is the dominant partner in the UK. The term British Isles, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the British state which it long predated, and is a purely geographical term. No political connotation attaches to the term - except for those who deliberately choose to attach it. TharkunColl 18:08, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Deliberate or not, many people clearly do perceive political connotations, particularly in Ireland. It is right that the article should make this clear, as it does at present. Did anyone find a source for the claim of exclusion of the term in schoolbooks? ..dave souza, talk 20:06, 29 March 2006 (UTC)
Referring to the UK as the UK would definitely be the most common, however, even I sometimes use "England" when referring to all of GB. For instance, if I was travelling to Holyhead, Anglesea by ferry, I would say that "I was taking the boat to England." Use of "England" for the UK and definitely for GB is very common. It's similar to referring to the Netherlands as "Holland" Iolar Iontach 00:29, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
The Times (London); a bastion of Britishness also refers to the British Isles and Ireland as seperate entities in this recent article which concerns an absolutely ridiculous recent study concerning IQ levels in various countries. The paper in which this article was published in Ireland used the United Kingdom in its league table. Iolar Iontach 02:00, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
What a bizzare article. I don't like the usage of British Isles for the UK alone (we've got enough different names already). The bit about brain size is irrelevent. It's size of the brain relative to the body that dictates intelligence and I would imagine Northern Europeans would develop extra body fat for warmth. josh (talk) 16:38, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Considering the half-baked nature of that whole table, it doesn't really surprise me that its creator got the name of his country wrong. TharkunColl 17:01, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
The article gets it wrong several times: in the table "British Isles" is used, and then the island of Ireland is listed further down. In the body of the article, the term "Britain" is used.
Studies I have seen (and even a couple of recent television programmes such as 'Test the Nation') have shown that people in Scotland and Northern Ireland achieved higher average IQ scores than in England, while England itself scored something like 103.
Regarding the use of the term British Isles - this is an encyclopedia. In that sense, it doesn't matter what the most common terms used are. As has been pointed out, some of the more common terms are widely mis-used. As an encyclopedia, we should be at pains to include the correct information. Misuse of the terms should only amount to a footnote. --Mal 19:36, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
My recent comment on the nomenclature was archived, so I'm reproducing it here...
The term was created during the Iron Age to describe the collective peoples as they were known by the Greeks and the Romans, taken from the name of the bulk of the population that lived here - the Pretani (ie: the Pretannic Isles). The problem though, is the more modern use of the word "British" as a nationality. Therefore, while I can understand the percieved 'offense' at the use of the term, it is borne out of ignorance. Many people still think the term originated from the large tribe called Britons. --Mal 19:45, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Offence is not borne out of ignorance. Language evolves; British does not refer to Ireland. One could also argue that it was ignorant of the Classical geographers to use that term in the first place. There is little evidence of Brythons having ever been in Ireland. Usage of the nomenclature within the archipelago is recent. I trust we are all agreed that nationality plays no part in the size of one's IQ :-) Iolar Iontach 10:28, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Actually there is plenty of evidence which points to the fact that some of the pre-Gaelic inhabitants of Ireland were Belgae. Moreover, the term Pretani, from which the term Britain is derived, was applied to the inhabitants of both the main islands of the region.
Also, British does refer to Ireland, in that one sixth of the island is in fact British (see Northern Ireland).
Regarding IQ, it is certainly debatable as to whether nationality plays a part in IQ scores. Obviously there is a difference in average IQ scores between different regions / nations / countries. Yet just how notable an IQ score is in itself, is also highly debatable - that involves debating the definition of intelligence, and how one can accurately measure it. --Mal 21:45, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
5/6 of the island is British? That is news to me considering I live on the island. 1/6 of the island is a constituent of the United Kingdom - that does not make it British. Using "British" to refer to the people of Northern Ireland and its political status is correct, however, using "British" to refer to the geographical landmass of Northern Ireland is wholly incorrect. Again the use of Pretani on the part of Classical Geographers was ignorance, we are talking about a group who believed the world was flat. If you have evidence that Belgae resided in Ireland provide a link. Iolar Iontach 16:18, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Obviously that was a bit of an error, and I'm sure you knew that. I have changed my edit acordingly.
You state that "one sixth of the island is a constituent of the UK.. but that does not make it British". Actually, it does. Using "British" to describe the geo-political landmass that makes up Northern Ireland is perfectly correct.. in the same way that using the same term to describe the geo-political landmass that makes up England, Scotland or Wales is also correct. Arguably in fact, Northern Ireland is more British than either Scotland or Wales, considering it is ruled directly from the British Parliament currently. But I digress.
Classical Geographers were in fact quite acurate. The Greeks knew the nomenclature of the people of the islands through their allies amongst the Celts of continental Europe. As for proof that the Belgic tribes resided in Ireland, I suggest you read up on your history a bit. I'd point you first to Ptolemy (I don't think he has a "link"!). --Mal 15:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
While the term British has changed the term British Isles hasn't. As people keep explaining to you the situation is the same as US-America(n) situation. It is only the ignorant or those trying to find offence in the term that choose to change the meaning of British Isles. josh (talk) 18:12, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
The term is a misnomer. The situation is not the same as the US use of American. American can refer to the USA and/or the Americas; British refers to Great Britain or the United Kingdom or to its people or language. It never refers to Ireland. Your analogy is flawed. Please consult the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster.Iolar Iontach 16:18, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
It has been made clear to you time after time that the British in 'British Isles' is geographical and clearly predates the state that uses the same name. That makes it the same as the American situation. The only difference is that some of the original terms have become more obscure. josh (talk) 16:54, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
For a start the USA/American situation is not the same. Again, American refers to the USA and/or the American continents; there are little or no similarities. It has been made unambiguously clear to you that Britain does not refer to Ireland ever. This should not be difficult to comprehend. The nomenclature the British Isles is both inaccurate and illogical and usage of it should be avoided as it is now a misnomer. Please actually consult a dictionary as your points are invalid whilst you are unaware of the correct English definition of British. British never refers to IrelandIolar Iontach 01:07, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Good advice. According to this well-known dictionary [5] British Isles is defined as "A group of islands off the northwest coast of Europe comprising Great Britain, Ireland, and adjacent smaller islands." You are clearly incorrect to say that "British" never refers to Ireland, because otherwise the phrase British Isles wouldn't exist. Please remember that we are talking about how the language actually is, not how some people would like it to be. TharkunColl 07:45, 3 April 2006 (UTC)


Almost as an aside, it is worth noting that there are many island groups in the world named after their largest/most important island. See Gran Canaria. These are all geographical designations. If language means anything at all, then it means certain things. If we jettison meaning, then we are left with no means of communication at all. TharkunColl 23:23, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

Why would one consider Great Britain the most important island unless one had a British-centric perspective? By using the inaccurate nomenclature British Isles one is jettisoning the established meaning of British.Iolar Iontach 16:21, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Because it's the largest island in the group, perhaps? The term British Isles long predated the use of the adjective for the British state. Why don't you make a fuss about the UK appropriating the term "British"? That would certainly be more logical, and I would have some sympathy with such a stance. TharkunColl 17:15, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

Without wanting to offend, can I just draw you two to the following quote from Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines:

Talk pages are not for general chatter; please keep discussions on talk pages on the topic of how to improve the associated article.

Talk pages are also not strictly a forum to argue different points of view about controversial issues. They are a forum to discuss how different points of view should be included in the article so that the end result is neutral.

Now its easy for discussion to go off topic, but please remember that this is not a page for discussing the benefits/problems of the term. It is to discuss about article improvment. Now unless it is posited that the article does not accurately explain:

  • How the term is used
  • Its problems
  • Its etymology and geopolitical history
  • The alternatives

Then such talk is just wasting server space. Robdurbar 17:36, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

At last, a voice of reason on this talk page! Well done, Robdurbar. I'm sure you and I aren't the only ones that would like to see an end to this pointless bickering. Waggers 16:06, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

British Isles and Ireland

"British Isles and Ireland" is sometimes used as a collective term for the archipelago.

This is certainly true, but I'm not sure if it clarifies more than it obscures. If there's evidence for systematic use of British Isles to mean something other than the headline definition, it would be better to state that directly. The sporadic use of this seems to me to be more characteristic of it being an ad hoc synonym for "the UK", or "some set of islands I haven't clearly defined even in my own mind". Alai 20:31, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

I think its a misuse. It should be mentioned but you're right, should be explained too. Robdurbar 12:10, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
It seems more logically placed in that context, thanks. Lest we end up discussing such favourite RTEisms as "the UK or Northern Ireland", at a certain point we should really be shipping some of this out to British Isles (terminology). Alai 14:57, 8 April 2006 (UTC)
"British Isles and Ireland" can hardly be deemed an RTÉism; it is used on this educational page from the BBC. Iolar Iontach 02:18, 20 April 2006 (UTC)


The article says that "outside of Scotland, which is in northern Great Britain and quite mountainous, only four peaks reach above 1 000 m." Four seems wrong — either three or five would be better depending what you consider the cut-off for a separate mountain to be. Carrauntoohill in Ireland and Snowdon and Carnedd Llewelyn in Snowdonia are clearly all separate mountains. After that, it seems appropriate to either include both or neither of Carnedd Dafydd and Garnedd Ugain. ras52 10:51, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Possibly there's been a confusion as it would appear that 3 peaks in Ireland are above 1000m [6]; giving us a total of 7. Robdurbar 14:02, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
OK, I've rechecked and I agree with that. Looking at a map and tables of their prominences, Beenkeragh and Caher could be considered subsidiary peaks of Carrauntoohill in the same way that Carnedd Dafydd and Garnedd Ugain could be considered secondary tops of Carnedd Llewelyn and Snowdon respectively. So three or seven, but not four. ras52 17:33, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
In rephrasing the line a bit I thought about finding the total of Munros (why 1 000 m?), giving a mention of the Lake District and saying how many high tops in each of Ireland and Wales rather than a total, but left it simpler. ...dave souza, talk 18:23, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Why 1 000m? - why not? I think its just a round number. Robdurbar 18:25, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Just that Munros are 3 000 ft, though it would be easy enough to go through the List of Munros and pick out those over 1 000m. Also the Lakes have four over 3 000 ft. ...dave souza, talk 18:39, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Several problems with 3 000 ft. First, the list of is much longer and so the point that most mountains in the British Isles are in Scotland comes over less forcefully. Second, 3 000 ft is hard to reconcile with metric survey data — are 914m mountains like Foinaven over 3 000 ft? Generally they're not considered to be even though 3 000 ft is nearer to 914m than 915m.
Thirdly, the standard list of 3 000 ft mountains for Scotland is the List of Munros which has a largely subjective cut-off for deciding when a mountain is separate entity and when it is a subsidiary top or a nearby mountain. This makes it hard to extend to the rest of the British Isles. There are 284 Munros; it is often said that there are four 3 000 ft mountains in England, another 15 in Wales, and 14 in Ireland, but these are completely inconsistent, with a much larger separation required in England or Scotland than in Wales or Ireland. If the criteria used for Welsh and Irish peaks were used in England and Scotland, there would be six or eight English 3 000 ft peaks and around 500 in Scotland; conversely if the Scotish/English criteria were used in Wales, there would only be six or seven Welsh 3 000 footers. A serious attempt to reconcile this would probably be best done by comparing, say, 3 000 ft Marilyns, though as relatively few people will have heard of these, this might seem counter-intuitive. ras52 20:29, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for an interesting answer. ...dave souza, talk 21:19, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

A simple question of respect for other nationalities

I have read clearly what everyone has had to say on this matter and find nothing to convince me that what apologists for this term have said justifies the use of the term in any context. The term "British Isles" is trebly incorrect; historically incorrect, politically incorrect and geographically incorrect.

Again and again, references from classical sources are cited in support of the term in blatant disregard of the fact that Greek and Roman observers were often ignorant in the extreme and patchy at the very best in their knowledge of the languages and cultures of people living outside the boundaries of their empires or their known world. These sources are quoted almost as irrefutable evidence of the legitimacy of the term. As I have said before, if "British Isles" originates from "Pretannic Isles" and refers to speakers of a P-Celtic language similar to the British language of the P-Celtic peoples that once inhabited large areas of England, Wales and southern Scotland before the invasions of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, I challenge you to provide evidence that all or even a majority of the people of this island (Ireland) were once speakers of a P-Celtic language.

Secondly, it is utterly irrelevant what term was used by cartographers and others before the formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. These people were almost all non-Irish and ignorant to a large degree of the language, history and people of Ireland. Many, no doubt, worked for the reigning monarch of the day, who would clearly have his or her own imperialistic designs on Ireland. Thirdly, the wholescale glossing over of what the vast majority of Irish people TODAY in 2006 think of this term smacks of arrogance. Yes, of course one will find references to "British Isles" in Irish publications and websites but these are are so rare as to be negligible in terms of what term most people in the street actually use and what they think of the term. This is a question of respect for other peoples. Most people in Ireland never ever use the term "British Isles" and find it distasteful and uncomfortable at best. Have Irish people not the right to decide how we should be described or must we just accept dictats from English neo-colonialists? No matter what sort of verbal gymnastics one resorts to in defence of "British Isles", there is no getting away from the simple fact that if Ireland is a "British Isle" then it follows that at the very least in terms of geography, the cities and towns and rivers and lakes and harbours and hills and mountains of Ireland are British also. This is quite simply ludicrous. Ireland is separated from Britain by three stretches of water: the Irish Sea, North Channel and St. George's Channel. These seas exist! They are not figments of the imagination!! They are solid geographic features. No part of Ireland can be labelled "British" in any geographical sense because no part of Ireland is physically linked to the island of Britain. "Britain" means the island of Britain and that alone. The informal and incorrect use of "Britain" for the United Kingdom stems from the fact that the UK is a state artificially created and relatively young in historical terms. There has never been a "UK Nation" or a homogenous "Ukonian people". It largely stems from ignorance of the geographical reality that Northern Ireland is in the UK but not in Britain, being physically separated from Britain by the North Channel.

The use of the adjective "British" to refer to the United Kingdom as a whole is nothing more than a reflection of the artificiality of the UK state, a state composed of three historic nations and a sizable chunk of a fourth. An adjective accurately describing all the peoples of the UK state has never existed and the fact that "Ukonian" has had to be invented for just that purpose shows how artificial in origin the UK is. Is it any wonder that there is so much confusion over terminology when taking about Britain and Ireland?

Alan, Dublin

Hey man, show some respect for the Northern Irish British! ..dave souza, talk 14:04, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
In answer to your query, it is not the intent surely of this article to enter a debate about how correct or incorrect the term is. The fact is that the term exists, and that is why the article exists.
Greek navigators actually sailed around the islands and reported back. Roman historians are noted for being particularly fastidious usually. The term is not "irrelevant after the formation of the UK" because it is still in common use to describe the island group. You say that many "no doubt worked for the reigning monarch of the time". But there wasn't a single reigning monarch until what .. 1707? And not a single monarch of the whole of the British Isles until 1801. Up until those periods there had been Lordships, petty kingdoms, tribes and fiefdoms etc.
The fact that the term "British Isles" is offensive to (a small number) of Irish people is a relatively recent phenonemon, and not something that an article should apologise for. You are confusing the nationality "British" with the historical term "British Isles". So your suggestion that towns (etc) in Ireland are British is in error for that reason. However, the towns etc of Northern Ireland are British. The term "British Isles" is not a figment of the imagination either. Look at the term itself: "Isles" - not "Isle". This indicates that some of the "Isles" are indeed separated by stretches of water.
Historically there has been terms to describe the people of the UK, and collectively, of the island group "British Isles". You assert that "the fact that "Ukonian" has had to be invented for just that purpose shows how artificial in origin the UK is", though I have never heard of this term "Ukonian" before I read your comment. The proper nomenclature is "British" for the collective nationality.
I can assure you that the UK is no more "artificial in origin" than the USA, China, Zambia, Chile or France. --Mal 14:11, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm English, but have Irish (Cork) ancestory. I agree with a lot of what Alan says. Geographicaly N.Ireland is not part of Britain, but a large part of it's population consider themselves as British, similar to most Falkland Islanders and most Gibraltarians. People descended from grandparents born in India etc usually hemselves as 'Asian' when born in Europe because of a sense of ancestory. Is the term British Isles still used because Britain did dominate the all of the islands and also because of the absence of a better alternative. Bevo74 14:28, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

No. The term British Isles predated the formation of the British state by many, many centuries. The British state chose the word "British" to describe itself precisely because it was already a pre-existing geographical term. To be honest, if the Irish are annoyed about anything, they should be annoyed that the UK has stolen the term "British" for itself. TharkunColl 14:53, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Alan used the term "Britain" but hasn't defined it. It's a term best avoided because it is ambiguous. The island of Ireland is not a "British Isle" - it is one of the two main islands of the British Isles, the other being Great Britain. Nowhere does this article describe the people of the Republic of Ireland as "British" as asserted. The misconception that if you live on the British Isles you must be a British (i.e. UK) citizen is as wrong as a UK citizen in Northern Ireland saying they do not live on the island of Ireland. The United Kingdom of GB & NI is no more artificial than the Republic of Ireland - both have histories which resolve to groups of the inhabitants repeatedly merging or splitting over time to create the political units we have now. I'm not too happy about the English being called neo-colonialists when the same label is not applied to the Welsh, the Scots or the Irish. It is often forgetten that the English found themselves under the rule of a Scottish monarch, not the other way round. "British Isles" is used because that is the name of the islands. The UK as a nation, and the term "British" used as its adjective, came afterwards. There confusion arises from mixing political labels - state and nationality names - with geographic ones. Bazza 15:01, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
And with respect to Ireland, the English were never really colonialists in the first place (except perhaps for a few isolated individuals). The medieval settlers in Ireland were Normans, and the later settlers in Ulster were Scots. On the other hand, countless millions of Irish people have settled in England over the centuries, and still do. Some places in England appear more Irish than English (such as Liverpool). TharkunColl 16:01, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
There are loads of examples of terms that have become confused or out dated. Most people just get on with life and worry about more important things. The West Indies was never right in the first place, the Persian Gulf was named after the now extinct empire. The Irish Sea is named as such despite its only residents being Manx. The fact is that these are all terms, not descriptions. Its not up to Wikipedia to change their usage. It reflects the reality of the situation, which is that the most common term is the British Isles. If you have a problem with that take it up with the rest of the world. Wikipedia is not a soapbox. josh (talk) 16:26, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Why is the mention of the opposition to the use of this term so low key in the first paragraph ? Quite clearly it is an extremely controversial term yet the only mention of this in paragraph one is to say that it is not accepted by everyone, which is a complete understatement. In reality the term is considered an insult by millions of Irish people. Completely aside from any supposed misinterpretation (I mean the ‘geographical term’ nonsense etc), people should see the note re: Gorbachev in the article for an excellent example of why Irish people don’t like the term. I have no problem with the article other than the fact that paragraph one is misleading and gives the impression that most people have no problem with it. whereas in effect, an entire country has a problem with it, and furthermore this has been reflected by the decisions of the two governments to remove the term from textbooks. I did put in a simple line in paragraph one to this effect; it read something like 'Most Irish people find the term insultive' ; however someone removed it. I appeal to whoever did this to reconsider as the insultive nature of the term to Irish people is quite important and should surely be to the fore if the encyclopaedia is to give the uninformed reader an informed position. Does anyone agree? i agree that wikipedia is not a soapbox for discussion on whether the term should or shouldnt be used but we need to be more up front with the truthbob
The problem is that 'most Irish people find it insulting' is compeltely unverified. To include something so bold - an assertion - we need some sort of evidence. For all we know, it might be that only 20 Irish people find it insulting and these 20 people all happen to know you. Unlikely, of course, but not impossible. So it is simple - find a survey, a claim in a credited book/website/news article that says 'most' Irish people find it insulting and such a snetence can go in the article. --Robdurbar 23:08, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
it seems to me that many things on wikipedia are not verified, lots of information is added by people who are closer to a situation than others and this information is by and large accepted. I live in the republic and i assure you that it is not a small percentage of people - i imagine it to be 60-80% or so but even though this is a guess it is clearly (remember i live here) going to be a signifignant number of people - in any case there should be at the very least a term in paragraph one stating that an undetermined but signifignant number of irish people dislike the term - ( mentioning at least some objection by the irish ) - you shouldnt need an official survey ( there's isnt one afaik ) to see that lots of people dont like the term - and furthermore i have noticed that many english people who like the term are particularly attached to it - ( which is further proof to me that there is a significant argurment about it )

i will however, carry out an online survey but i have my doubts about your sincerity - what sort of numbers would you need as proof that lots of people over here have some reservations about the term ... i mean as an irishman living in ireland it's all so blatantly obvious that it's hard to understand why anyone would want to argue about it. Please tell me not all english people are so ignorant of irish general opinion that they dont see this. [bob]

I am being sincere; and whilst much on Wikipedia needs verification (it is a work in process!) that does not mean that we shouldn't request it here. I'm not disagreeing with you - I understand that most Irish people don't like the term. I - and I hope I'm speaking for Wikipedia in general - would baisically look for two improvements to get this into the article:
  • Offence/dislike - You used 'offence' in your sentence to describe the term; I do qeustion whetehr this is the case. For example, a black person would probably find offence at being called a 'nigger'; they may dislike someone saying something stupid such as 'all black people are good dancers', but would probably not be 'offended' by it. What I am trying to say is that 'most Irish people find this phrase offensive' suggests that using the term British Isles is akin to insulting their very being; I wonder whether 'most' Irish people feel rather that it is an unfortunate and sometimes annoying anacrohnism that they dislike but do not necessairliy take offense too.
  • 'Most' - well the simplest definition here would be something claiming that more than 50% of Irish people find the term British Isles offensive. In my view, something in the aritcle would reflect whatever source is found; so if we can prove it is a majority view, then fine; if we can prove that it is a notable minority then I would prefer 'some', rather than 'most'. --Robdurbar 15:21, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
Please take care regarding WP:NOR with whatever you mean by "carry out an online survey" ...dave souza, talk 16:51, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I would say that most Irish citizens find the term anachronistic and inaccurate rather than offensive. It doesn't offend me, however, it does baffle me that so many of its proponents can be so geo-politically unaware that they can find few if any problems with the term. Referring to Ireland as British under any circumstances is wrong and analogous to referring to Wales and Scotland as constituents of England. Iolar Iontach 16:58, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I would not argue too much over the words 'most' or 'some' - however i feel the term 'many' would suit the situation better than 'some' as 'some' implies to me a realtivly small minority. Fact is that whether or not it's a figure more than 50% or not, it is still a sizeable number, speaking from experience.

As reguards the offence/dislike issue i would say that as far as i can see the main problem comes not from the term itself but from the continued use and justification of it - i mean it was fine to use in the past but in the current changing political and social climate, referring to anything irish as british can be a bother to ???? irish people - obviously people react differently to this with some laughing it off, some taking offence etc. What i am saying is that is dont see your analogy as that acurate; it is not as quite as offensive as the word nigger but a lot moreso than the term "all black people are good dancers" ( which might even be taken as a compliment ). In truth as far as i can see it is actually an offence (to some at least).

thanks for the tip on the survey - am new to wikipedia - anyway the survey didnt work out - turns out the idea i had was not very reliable. [bob]

The article is about the "British Isles", and is now going to great lengths to point out that (a) the term is a geographical one, not political and (b) the term causes some people problems because they haven't got the point made in (a). This is article is about the group of Atlantic islands which sit to the north and northwest of France - commonly referred to in many parts of the world as the British Isles. The dispute about the political aspects of the word British is causes inaccuracies about the set of islands to be introduced into Wikipedia. An example is the definition which states that the Isle of Man is the westernmost island. It isn't. It sits in the ironically-named Irish Sea, whilst there are more islands in the group to the west. I'm correcting this and added extra information which I hope will clarify the article constructively. Bazza 11:23, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
The comment about the Irish Sea is very apt, and a very good analogy. The whole sea is called the Irish Sea, even those parts of it that are part of UK territorial waters. Do I object to this blatantly inaccurate nomenclature, which clearly and obviously implies that part of UK territory is under Irish control? Hell no! I'm mature enough to realise that geographical terms don't always or necessarily correspond to political ones, which they often predate by a long time. TharkunColl 22:35, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
The reference to the Irish Sea is irrelevant. Names of lands where people live tend to reflect the names of the people that live there. Irish citizens are not British. People tend not to live in or on the sea thus the suggestion that Ireland has sovereignty over part of the United Kingdom's territorial waters is patently absurd. Iolar Iontach 14:44, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

This is not so. There are plenty of examples of the name of a people being taken from a pre-existing geogrphical term, even if the boundaries don't match. American is one, British is another. Why aren't you up in arms that the UK has appropriated the originally-Celtic word "British"? I would have a modicum of sympathy with that stance, as I don't particularly like the word anyway (always calling myself English unless the situation rendered it inappropriate). TharkunColl 15:19, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Remind me what the names of the people from America and Britain are because I'm almost sure that it is American and British which reflect the names of the lands in which they live. The etymology of British isn't Celtic; it's Latin, possibly Greek which may have been influenced by (not derived from) an indegenous Celtic language. The word from the Celtic language certainly would not have referred to the entire archipelago. Indigenous usage of this inaccurate term is recent.
Irish and Britain don't fit because Irish people aren't British. British does not refer to Ireland EVER with the possible historical exceptions which are erroneous since Ireland is not a part of Great Britain, and hasn't been for several geological epochs. Iolar Iontach

Americans are called that because they live in a place called America, even though that term has a much wider geographical meaning than the USA.

You are simply wrong to state that "British" never refers to Ireland - it does so in the phrase "British Isles" for example. If some Irish people don't like it, well tough. The vast majority of the population of the British Isles will go on using it anyway. TharkunColl 07:34, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

British never refers to Ireland because Ireland isn't British; I understand that this causes you great difficulty but Ireland is a sovereign state. If you think that Ireland is British then you need to raise this issue with Merriam-Webster and OED who reflect popular English usage and define British differently to you. Maybe the people of Ireland will then change their Constitution just for you.
Read what I said again: Names of lands where people live tend to reflect the names of the people that live there. Iberians come from Iberia; Africans from Africa; Europeans from Europe; Scandinavians from Scandinavia; British from Great Britain; and Irish from Ireland. It is questionable if Ireland is a British Isle; its government and popular usage do not reflect that it is. Whatever the population in the rest of the archipelago thinks is irrelevant. Most of the world believes Scotland and Wales to be parts of England, does that make it fact? Iolar Iontach 11:48, 13 May 2006 (UTC)
Does it worry either of you that this page has 115kb of talk the vast vast majority is your irrelevant wranglings? CUT IT OUT! I've said it before and I've said it again:

Talk pages are not for general chatter; please keep discussions on talk pages on the topic of how to improve the associated article.

Talk pages are also not strictly a forum to argue different points of view about controversial issues. They are a forum to discuss how different points of view should be included in the article so that the end result is neutral.

--Robdurbar 12:18, 13 May 2006 (UTC)