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  1. #61
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    I really only hear people discuss heritage when a persons' appearance or last name makes it ambiguous and they're asking out of sheer curiosity (this happens to me often). After all, there is no "American" look as far as physical features go.

    I always find it curious that when the US has some unique, cultural "phenomenon" it is usually viewed with a critical eye from other countries. If Americans had the same attitude towards them though, they'd be called narrow-minded, ignorant, etc. The double standard seems to make it okay to be bigoted towards Americans. I find that ridiculous & hard to understand.

    I mean, so what if Americans have an unusual curiosity & interest over people's heritages? So what if they recognize subtle nuances amongst one another culturally that they link to their heritages? That's all anyone means when they say "I'm Italian" or whatever - they've noted patters in similarities/differences related to heritage. Since a lot of communities are initially based on people of the same heritage congregating in one area, it makes sense that you have micro-cultures (even more so when you consider the physical size of the country). Of course, these begin to be absorbed into general American culture over time, but the more recent the immigration, the more it has a distinction from the generic culture. Still, some nuances can remain. I think the tendency to be curious about it is just indicative of being curious in general, which I consider a positive thing.

    The high concentrations on this map of certain ethnic heritages in some areas is no coincidence in relation to the "micro-cultures" associated with the region:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...County.svg.png
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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  2. #62
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I really only hear people discuss heritage when a persons' appearance or last name makes it ambiguous and they're asking out of sheer curiosity (this happens to me often). After all, there is no "American" look as far as physical features go.
    From an advertising point of view, it's largely European.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I always find it curious that when the US has some unique, cultural "phenomenon" it is usually viewed with a critical eye from other countries. If Americans had the same attitude towards them though, they'd be called narrow-minded, ignorant, etc. The double standard seems to make it okay to be bigoted towards Americans. I find that ridiculous & hard to understand.
    A bit of a knee-jerk reaction. Is it correct to call a desire to be from another culture a cultural phenomenon?

    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I mean, so what if Americans have an unusual curiosity & interest over people's heritages? So what if they recognize subtle nuances amongst one another culturally that they link to their heritages? That's all anyone means when they say "I'm Italian" or whatever - they've noted patters in similarities/differences related to heritage. Since a lot of communities are initially based on people of the same heritage congregating in one area, it makes sense that you have micro-cultures (even more so when you consider the physical size of the country).
    No-one's doubting that. The point could maybe be expressed with a big brother/little brother analogy. I mean, Americans that latch on to the identity of their ancestors resemble a younger brother who mimics his older brother. They're both distinct and should have their own identities; it seems weird for one to mimic or replicate the other.

    Europeans don't "look down" on Americans for doing this - it just seems a bit weird to be so enamoured by it. I think GZA's attitude seems to be the one I would understand the most. Sometimes I feel like I'm trampling over some sort of inferiority complex when I talk to Americans about this issue, but I don't mean to do that - I don't want to get anyone's back up. It's not a competition: we all have ancestors. It's the way in which that is "celebrated" that causes curiosity, hence the title of this thread.
    That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
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  3. #63
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    My pastor growing up moved to America from Scotland and said once that he doesn't get people who say they are "scottish" who have been living in the US for generations. Reading this thread I understand where his comment came from.

    I have a friend from Sweden and what is he? He is Swedish. It makes sense as to why he wouldn't understand people wanting to figure out their heritage. In America we are a huge grouping of ancestory, there are so many options of what is thrown in to what we are.

    I do have a question for the people saying we shouldnt trace ancestory. What should someone who has lived in America a few generations be? What if they stayed within their original nationality? Can they still claim that nationality? Do we lose our nationality when it is mixed with other nationalities?

    Another comment on the "people brag about their nationality." My aunt and uncle research geneology, even traveling to Scotland and Ireland to research. I could see someone thinking they are bragging about their geneology. They are actually proud of the work they put into researching it, not the actual geneology.

    My husband's family came over pretty recently (late 1800s?) with a unique last name and apparently everyone on the eastern side of America they have contacted with his last name can be traced to the same John C___. In my book that is pretty neat and worth researching ancestory to find out.

    p.s. I won't give up watching my Ohio Caber toss!

    Oh yes, I also have a Singaporean friend living in Britain whose family came from mainland china and malaysia (i think it's those two). He was interested in his ancestory and he isn't American in the least. Maybe it's people who are one nationality who don't understand it?

  4. #64
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaur View Post
    Oh yes, I also have a Singaporean friend living in Britain whose family came from mainland china and malaysia (i think it's those two). He was interested in his ancestory and he isn't American in the least. Maybe it's people who are one nationality who don't understand it?
    I'm not "of one nationality" either!

    Your Singaporean friend's interest is normal (as is everyone's interest in ancestry). However, I suppose (and it is a supposition) that he calls himself Singaporean, or British. He probably doesn't call himself Chinese or Malaysian. I think therein lies the difference. It would be weird to for him to call himself Chinese if his great-great-great grandfather was Chinese; it makes much more sense for him to say Singaporean or British.
    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. #65
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adasta View Post
    I'm not "of one nationality" either!

    Your Singaporean friend's interest is normal (as is everyone's interest in ancestry). However, I suppose (and it is a supposition) that he calls himself Singaporean, or British. He probably doesn't call himself Chinese or Malaysian. I think therein lies the difference. It would be weird to for him to call himself Chinese if his great-great-great grandfather was Chinese; it makes much more sense for him to say Singaporean or British.
    I think you're still missing the nuance of the phrase "I'm Irish" or "I'm Italian" in the US. If, for example, I am traveling in, say, France, and someone asks me where I'm from, I don't say, "I'm Irish and German." I say, "I'm American." But when I am talking to another American who asks me, "What are you" or what my heritage is, I say, "I'm Irish and German." It's simply a shortcut, and means, "My ancestors were Irish and German." We don't "call ourselves" Irish, German, Italian, whatever in the sense that you are understanding it. Does that make sense?
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  6. #66
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    ^Brilliant. Exactly.

    Yes, he calls himself Chinese if you ask him his ancestory.

  7. #67
    Senior Member Adasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    I think you're still missing the nuance of the phrase "I'm Irish" or "I'm Italian" in the US. If, for example, I am traveling in, say, France, and someone asks me where I'm from, I don't say, "I'm Irish and German." I say, "I'm American." But when I am talking to another American who asks me, "What are you" or what my heritage is, I say, "I'm Irish and German." It's simply a shortcut, and means, "My ancestors were Irish and German." We don't "call ourselves" Irish, German, Italian, whatever in the sense that you are understanding it. Does that make sense?
    Yes, that's much clearer - thanks.

    However, I still find it baffling that anyone would ask that question, or at least phrase it that way. It seems to denigrate America or "Americaness". If another Englishman said to me "Where are you from?" I would always reply "England" (or the town/region, obviously). Also, no Englishman would ask me that question and then expect me to say "Italian and Irish and also Welsh etc."

    I think the sheer normality of this dialogue is what baffles us (Europeans). It seems odd to me, anyway!
    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.

  8. #68
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    If you live in England though, wouldn't it be common to state the more specific area you came from as a means of identifying more about yourself? I think that is similar to what is happening here, except that in addition to province or State, sometimes ethnicity is one way of understanding more about a person or even how they see themselves or what they identify as. I think our respective histories really play a big part in this. Because there has been less recorded history of what's happened over here, it becomes more relevant. What ethnicity your ancestors are and when they came over is a means of finding your place within the larger culture maybe.

  9. #69
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Would you ever ask a visually Asian person who is in england what nationality they are? Or visually "not English"?

    I don't ask people at the (Ohio) Scottish games what their ancestry is even though my husband is polish/German and goes with me so obviously there are people there without Scottish ancestry. Seems pretty obvious that everyone has a Scottish connection somehow. I do know the Asian couple that I notice every year at the Scottish games must have something other than Scottish in their ancestry somewhere.

    It's obvious that most of us aren't 100% native to america so it's something to chat about and/or research.

  10. #70
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    I'm interested in it, but I don't define myself by it. It's too much of a mix. Recently discovered another line of ancestry to add!

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