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  1. #121
    violaine
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    The OP is something I've wondered about as well. I'm an expat Australian living in America and it used to strike me as odd that Americans of certain European descent hark back to their distant heritage in ways that used to seem almost far-fetched to me. But ime, defining your ethnicity is front and center in the US. Americans of Asian descent and Latin descent do it to though it may be questioned less because their appearance reflects their heritage more obviously. My ethnicity never goes unremarked upon and I am conscious of being stamped with it here, like it being a descriptor that matters. I can see how that consciousness may be passed down through generations and that the American habit of defining one's ethnicity is like a cultural habit meme. There is also the fact the at one point, someone's forebears were proud of where they came from and wanted to pass a strong identiy on to their children who then passed that on to their own children and so on. Not all that unusual. If I have children, I will most definitely impress my heritage upon them because it's a way for me to still feel like I belong to the culture of the country I was born in.

  2. #122
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post
    This is generally my feeling, too. Kiwis seem rather laid-back and not as in-your-face as some (and I stress some) ex-pat Australians.

    Also, on the point of Americans being lectured about culture. It'd be far more useful if these lectures about history tended to explore both sides of the argument, rather than just how "the Americans won". Most Americans' knowledge of the Second World War begins at Pearl Harbor, for example. So many, many Americans like to point out how "America won the War of Independence". I mean, it's technically inaccurate to say that since the conflict was a civil war, but I'm happy to talk about it since it was a great triumph for the people to throw off the imperial yoke.

    The sense I get is that things are terribly hyped-up on the American side. Either everything is "awesome" about the "original" culture, or the people there are stuck up and condescending. Surely there's some middle ground?
    There is middle ground and it's indifference. Most people don't really care for history or how we got where we are. And roughly half the people you ask a question from about a subject they don't care about will spout something bombastic. And the same goes for most of the people who volunteer an opinion.

  3. #123
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salome View Post
    But you asked us how we feel and now you're telling us we're wrong. Reminds me of that Mark Twain quote: "In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language."
    I'm not saying you're wrong about how you feel, only wrong about what we mean when we say something like that. I'm simply trying to clear up what seems to be a misconception about the terminology. If you understand the way the phrase is used, and still think the fact that we claim a little piece of our ancestry is annoying, that's a different story.

    Although if my posts can promote a bit more understanding of why Americans have this mentality, I wouldn't mind that, either.

  4. #124
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post

    Also, on the point of Americans being lectured about culture. It'd be far more useful if these lectures about history tended to explore both sides of the argument, rather than just how "the Americans won". Most Americans' knowledge of the Second World War begins at Pearl Harbor, for example. So many, many Americans like to point out how "America won the War of Independence". I mean, it's technically inaccurate to say that since the conflict was a civil war, but I'm happy to talk about it since it was a great triumph for the people to throw off the imperial yoke.
    This is a stereotype as well. Of course there are many American who are like this, but it's by no means all of us. It may seem hard to believe, but there are several Americans who are intelligent, decent people and who look beyond the propaganda that's so widespread in our media and K-12 education system. A few of us know how to think critically, put ourselves in others' shoes, and appreciate cultural difference. Some of us realize that while there are some great things about our country, there are also a whole lot of bad things, and that in fact the same is true of any country.

  5. #125
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle
    If you understand the way the phrase is used, and still think the fact that we claim a little piece of our ancestry is annoying, that's a different story.
    Like I said. It's mostly the sense of humour failure that is annoying.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  6. #126
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    That was humour?

  7. #127
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    What was?
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  8. #128
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I wonder how Europeans feel about people who are many generations removed from the old country, but who have still retained their culture. Because they left several hundred years ago, their culture and language may have branched off from the original countries in some respects, but it is still definitely closely tied to their European roots, more than to their new homeland.

    For example, French from Quebec or Acadians that live in Eastern Canada still have a very distinctly French culture. They have retained their language as well. Traditional music is alive and well. In some cases, political views, lifestyle, attitudes and religion are distinct from English Canada. However, their language would be somewhat different than French spoken in France, since it has evolved in a different direction. Would Europeans resent them claiming French heritage?

    Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is another example. The people there were cut off from the mainland except for travel by boat for many years. The island was overwhelmingly settled with Scottish immigrants. People spoke Gaelic up until my grandparents' generation. They are now teaching Gaelic in the schools in an attempt to regain the language that has been lost since there has been more connection to the mainland. There are still dances all over the island on a regular basis with traditional Scottish fiddling (from the 17 and 18 hundreds) and traditional set dancing, just as there have always been. People name their children Scottish names and there hasn't been a lot of intermarriage with other groups till the last generation or two. My friends from there still would talk about their culture as being something distinct from the rest of Canada's and after living in a community with many Cape Bretoners, I agree that it is.

  9. #129
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    For example, French from Quebec or Acadians that live in Eastern Canada still have a very distinctly French culture. They have retained their language as well. Traditional music is alive and well. In some cases, political views, lifestyle, attitudes and religion are distinct from English Canada. However, their language would be somewhat different than French spoken in France, since it has evolved in a different direction. Would Europeans resent them claiming French heritage?
    I have lots of Quebecois and French friends and, as a (Metropolitan) French-speaker who has been to Quebec and France, I think I can judge both cultures quite well.

    I can tell you now that the Quebecois are little more than a comical historical aside for the French. They laugh - openly - and their "ridiculously antiquated" accents. The key things to remember with Quebec are that the immigrants were largely of what was the peasant class, agricultural workers from the north of france, from where their distinct accent comes. Not only this, but Quebec missed out on the French Revolution. This substantial event caused massive changes in France. Indeed, even the language was "equalised" and the harsh rural accents were blotted out in an attempt to make things more equal in a refined, Republican way.

    The most distinctive aspects of Quebecois are also the most hilarious (to the French). Not only this, but Quebec serves France in the most nominal way. No longer an "outre-mer" territory, Quebec merely serves as a land where French still exists. Do not underestimate the chagrin felt by the French establishment that English is now the major world language; for hundreds of years before, the language of the social elite was French, even in England.

    (As a brief aside, if I were to describe what a Quebecois accent sounds like, it would be this: all the girls sound like a pretty daughter of a provincial merchant from the 17th century; all the guys sound like sailors who want to sell you secrets and tresure maps. Don't ask me why.)

    The French mainly consider the Quebecois to be backward; stuck in a timewarp, they are little more than farmers and "bucherons" who inhabit a frozen wasteland. While in Paris, I met a Quebecois guy who said that the people in the supermarket laughed at his accent. My good friends from Quebec tell me that, when in Paris, many shopkeepers refused to speak to them because "they didn't speak French" - although they clearly do. And, from personal experience, I often get more respect from a Frenchman for being "un rosbif" who can speak French since it is considered somewhat refined (by the French) to be able to speak like them.

    Obviously, it's not like people spit on les Quebecois when they visit Paris, but I'm talking about the prevailing sentiment I have witnessed. I must add that I really love the Quebecois; they were terribly nice to me when I went to Quebec and thought it a wonderful novelty to see an Englishman (or "un vrai Anglais d'Angleterre" or "un Anglais-Anglais" as they liked to call me) speak French. They also find it really funny that I can now mimic a Quebecois accent to the point that French people think I am Quebecois! I find their accent very alluring in fact, with several extremely cute elements (which I particularly enjoy when spoken by a lady...): its brashness is very disarming! I also got absolutely no flack at all for being from "the foreign colonial power", which I was previously a bit concerned about...
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
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    Or one could weep because another wept.

  10. #130
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I enjoy the Quebecois accent as well.
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