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  1. #11
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    As a European who has lived among Americans I noticed this too. It might be about finding roots and identity in a place that has a cultural canon of its own by now but tends to borrow a lot from the many incoming cultural influences. Even after more than two centuries there seems to be a fascination with the history of the Old World...the city of Damascus was first settled in the second millennium BC, just to name one extreme example. I am not denying previously existing native civilizations, only saying that you don't seem to see yourself as a continuation of that line (for rather obvious reasons).

    My history teacher at my American high school had a Swedish flag in his class room because he considered himself Swedish in that one of his grandfathers was born there. That struck me as an exotic thing to do.

    Family history can be fascinating, but it doesn't come up here the same way it seems to on your side of the Atlantic.

    Speaking of which, Peguy, I first thought you were Polish-Polish until you explained later on that you were Polish-American. When I first got to know you I imagined a guy sitting behind a computer somewhere in Kraków....because I took your statement "I'm Polish" literarily. That's the most fascinating part of it, people saying "I'm Italian" and obviously meaning "I am an American with Italian roots", not "I identify myself as an Italian mysteriously held captive in the body of somebody born in New Jersey".
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  2. #12
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    We haven't really traced our ancestry, nor do we think about it very much.

    I mean, we are vaguely aware that we have German and Irish ancestors, but it's not that important to us.

    As far as I know, most Americans just call themselves White/Caucasian, rather than identifying with a specific European ethnicity. The trend might have picked up more in recent years due to Whites seeing Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks discovering their heritage, and they wanted to get "in" on it? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.

  3. #13
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    Well America is an extension of Europe in many ways, and that helps bring things into perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Speaking of which, Peguy, I first thought you were Polish-Polish until you explained later on that you were Polish-American. When I first got to know you I imagined a guy sitting behind a computer somewhere in Kraków....because I took your statement "I'm Polish" literarily. That's the most fascinating part of it, people saying "I'm Italian" and obviously meaning "I am an American with Italian roots", not "I identify myself as an Italian mysteriously held captive in the body of somebody born in New Jersey".
    You're not the first one, in fact I have plenty of funny stories of both Europeans and Americans making that mistake. :redface:

  4. #14
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Herring View Post
    Speaking of which, Peguy, I first thought you were Polish-Polish until you explained later on that you were Polish-American. When I first got to know you I imagined a guy sitting behind a computer somewhere in Kraków....because I took your statement "I'm Polish" literarily. That's the most fascinating part of it, people saying "I'm Italian" and obviously meaning "I am an American with Italian roots", not "I identify myself as an Italian mysteriously held captive in the body of somebody born in New Jersey".
    I agree with this. I find people that do this to be terribly irritating. Having onegrandparent born in a different country barely connects you at all to that place - one knows nothing of it, or of its ways. I think what is telling is when "an Italian" (from America) meets a real Italian. In most cases, the Americans don't even speak Italian. If they do, they speak an appalling "dialect" which does not follow correct rules of pronunciation - it's barely comprehensible. I don't speak Italian that well to be fair, but they seem to create their own brutalised language. I think this shows the distance that exists between these two cultures and the subsequent ludicrousness of "hanging on" to a mythologised past.
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
    Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
    Of any world where promises were kept,
    Or one could weep because another wept.

  5. #15

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    Gee, I thought it was only some French who held the oddly concurrent beliefs that:

    1. Not making an attempt to speak the language when you visit is appalling.
    2. Speaking the language less than perfectly when you visit is appalling.
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

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  6. #16
    Senior Member LEGERdeMAIN's Avatar
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    Why is it strange to want to know the history of your family? People do this in every country of the world and have done it for thousands of years......You seem to be poking fun at the "pride" people have in their ancestory. I think that's a bit odd to me, if they know little about their ancestors, but simply being able to answer a question about the origins of your family is basic, even in the "melting pots" of the world.
    “Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba…”


  7. #17
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    It's not about making a polite attempt to speak the language when you're visiting...it's about identifying with a culture without even knowing the language.
    The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. Neither love without knowledge, nor knowledge without love can produce a good life. - Bertrand Russell
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  8. #18
    Senior Member guesswho's Avatar
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    Well I guess they need to know where they came from in order to define themselves?

  9. #19
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    My ex's hobby is geneology. She's German by way of Russia on her father's side. And this actually means something. Her town is named after a town in Germany, the Lutheran church in it was built by her ancestors, they held services in German in it in her grandparents times. There is a continuity.

  10. #20
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I think the language thing is a fairly ridiculous argument. Who cares if someone is interested in their origins but doesn't speak the language? There are plenty of people who are second generation Americans who don't speak the language, but it doesn't meant they have to knowledge of or claim to their family's heritage and culture.

    I understand not understanding a phenomenon. I don't understand why some in this thread seem to have an air of superiority about not understanding it.
    Something Witty

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