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Thread: Ugly Europeans (RANT)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Ugly Europeans (RANT)

    Since March i've been in England, France, and Switzerland. I've also had houseguests from France, Australia, and England and I've had a drink or two with people from Slovenia, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland. (all since March)

    I'm getting really tired of the smugness. I'm not saying that all Europeans are like this (and i'm not saying for a minute that we don't have plenty of Americans who act the same way) but a damn good many of you are arrogant a*******s.

    Some examples:

    The French girl who said "Why do americans like all of their drinks with ice? I don't understand it. It only makes you hotter. If you want to cool off you drink something warm and it pushes the blood to the surface."

    A few days later when it is 95 with 80% humidity she was asking for ice. I reminded her of what she said and explained "sweating only helps you when the sweat evaporates smart ass. when the air is already saturated with moisture sweating only makes you more wet."
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I don't know, it sounds to me like you kind of were being a smart ass in that you were trying to say "gotcha", basically. Yes, she is arrogant to think that all things European are superior and that Americans don't have logical reasons for the things they do. That's a pretty universal mistake -- to assume that people doing something in a way you would not do it are merely ignorant rather than to think maybe you are ignorant of the reasons they do things. You probably could have made the same point without trying to put her down personally -- ie "see, that's why Americans have iced drinks -- the climate here is different from Europe". That would have helped promote cross-cultural understanding without promoting hard feelings.

    No offense intended. Incidents like the one you describe tend to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. She probably also feels you are an ugly american for embarrassing her, etc.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    Some examples:

    The French girl who said "Why do americans like all of their drinks with ice? I don't understand it. It only makes you hotter. If you want to cool off you drink something warm and it pushes the blood to the surface."

    A few days later when it is 95 with 80% humidity she was asking for ice. I reminded her of what she said and explained "sweating only helps you when the sweat evaporates smart ass. when the air is already saturated with moisture sweating only makes you more wet."
    Technically she's right... sorry...

    But she shouldn't have been so arrogant though......

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    This thread could get ugly real quick.

    I've noticed it a little too. I think a big part of it is that American culture is so heavily exported that Europeans are constantly getting big doses of American culture. At the same time so many aspects of American culture are so heavily self-critical that they get big doses of criticism of American culture.

    So the result is kinda like Americans are living in a glass house, and all the Europeans etc. are sitting around outside of it looking into it most of the day. So then they have the idea that they understand what goes on inside, because they watch it so much. But they don't really know what it's like to be inside the house because... well... they're on the outside looking in. But that doesn't stop them from thinking they do.

    Americans, otoh, are completely ignorant of most other cultures and are proud of it.

    Another Rant: French people who act smug when you can't speak French very well. Like it's some big thing that they're better at speaking their first language than you. That's not to say that it's that common, honestly, most french people are very happy to learn that you're trying to learn their language and eager to help. But there's just enough of the obnoxious kind to be... well... obnoxious.

  5. #5

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    Yeah, jresta. I love being lectured by France (Let's make a deal...any deal... with anyone) and Germany (Godwin's Law) on political morality.

    Not that I always support our foreign policy

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Tread lightly folks....this is dangerous subject matter.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  7. #7
    I disagree - I like the independent spirit of the Europeans. I lived in Germany for three years and loved it! So they have different ways at looking at things... so what. Since when does the rest of the world have to be just like us? Thank goodness for the French and Germans and others who can think for themselves...Iraq.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    People who are smug and arrogant come from all over the world. If you're "not saying that all Europeans are like this", then what is your point?

    I travelled through 12 European countries last year and almost everyone I encountered was friendly, helpful, generous, and open-minded.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Since, I've never traveled internationally.....

    I hate it when other people act like jresta described. They can be anyone.. someone who takes a know-it-all position and then defends their position through insults and attacks. It's almost a defense mechanism.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Off-topic:


    "What's wrong with America reason number 47 - no universal health care! Reason number 48 - no metric system! What is this, the time of Charlemagne?"




    I haven't been to Europe, so I can't speak about unsolicited anti-American comments someone might get; I haven't experienced them firsthand. Excepting the Cyburbia Alefest, whenever I am in Toronto, though, I tend to get a lot of sarchastic comments when I say that I was born and raised in Buffalo. Often it's stale Irv Weinstein jokes, but I really am surprised that people are so candid and tactless with the anti-Buffalo comments. In the US, such comments come far less frequently.

    Maybe it's a Canadian thing. If someone visiting Toronto revealed to a cabdriver or waiter that they were from Winnipeg, would they also likely hear jabs against their home town? Would someone visiting from St. John's be told Newfie jokes to their face by total strangers? Canadians as a whole are incredibly friendly , but the "he he, have any good fires lately?" and "I got off the Thruway there once and saw nothing but slums" thing is a sore spot. Could those north of the border enlighten me?

    No, the US is not withut fault, but I've heard reports from others who have travelled to Europe claim that more than a few people they encounter go out of their way to criticize EVERYTHING about the US, its culture, and the habits of its people, and make a point at being vocal about it to Americans.

    "Why are you going to take shower? You American are obsess with being too the clean. If you take bath too much, you lose you, how you say, the natural skin oil, no?"

    "These bed will feel hard, but they are, how you say, better for you back. Why do you Americans all like soft mattresses? Soft mattress is bad for you back, no?"
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Ugly foreigners? Try fighting them for a spot on a tram at Disney World. But then again, guys with mullets act the same way...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I didn't expect this to get picked up on so quickly.

    I wasn't really finished with the thread and had to leave my computer but didn't want to start all over again.

    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    People who are smug and arrogant come from all over the world. If you're "not saying that all Europeans are like this", then what is your point?

    I travelled through 12 European countries last year and almost everyone I encountered was friendly, helpful, generous, and open-minded.
    My point is that i'm seriously tired of being lectured by Europeans about "ugly Americans". Most Europeans i've met are friendly, generous, helpful, and open-minded. That doesn't mean they can't also throw in a dose of arrogance whenever they feel comfortable enough with you.

    So to continue on with encounters with other english speakers:

    An english gentlemen critiqued my girlfriend for her pronunciation of "aluminum" (she says it just as any other american would) telling her that it's pronounced "alumiñum"

    An english women, after I used the word "vacation" to describe my time away from work said "I don't understand why you americans insist on using "vacation" it's a "holiday." I explained that we do have holidays in the states but vacation implies time off from work independent of a holiday. She pressed further. I said that "the Spanish can have their vacaciones, the french go en vacance, and the italians take a vacanza - i should certainly be allowed to take a vacation."

    I was explaining the difference between college and university to a french student of mine (overheard by an australian who kept interjecting that it's just "university") I explained that there can be many colleges within a university and that each college is normally particular to one field or a group of related fields. For instance, I went to the College of Arts&Sciences at Rutgers University. Colleges can also stand alone. For instance, Cabrini College, is not connected to a larger university and one can't pursue post-graduate work there but sometimes such places do offer higher degrees but are stilled called "Boston College" but that it's usually for historical reasons. When an american refers to a place as a "University" it usually means that it's a place where one can also pursue a Master's or PhD.

    The same australian as above insisted that he "could never understand the american university system" and then went on to talk about its shortcomings. I was thinking "this guy has spent a total of 6 weeks in as many years and now he's an expert on american education?" He insisted that there was no point to taking English or psychology or science courses if you're pursuing a degree in accounting. That it makes you "a jack of all trades and a master of none."

    Another english guy started into a critique on racism in America (while we're walking through a very stable and diverse neighborhood, mind you). I almost fell on the sidewalk laughing but i didn't say anything. Not because I think the US doesn't have any problems with race but because it was coming from an englishman and because, to use his lexicon, it was complete, uninformed rubbish.

    I'll see how badly i get flamed before i get into to my experiences with the French.

    My point is simply that if you don't understand something about another's culture you inquire about it. You don't talk about it in a derogatory manner from your own point of view.

    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    I don't know, it sounds to me like you kind of were being a smart ass in that you were trying to say "gotcha", basically. Yes, she is arrogant to think that all things European are superior and that Americans don't have logical reasons for the things they do. That's a pretty universal mistake -- to assume that people doing something in a way you would not do it are merely ignorant rather than to think maybe you are ignorant of the reasons they do things. You probably could have made the same point without trying to put her down personally -- ie "see, that's why Americans have iced drinks -- the climate here is different from Europe". That would have helped promote cross-cultural understanding without promoting hard feelings.

    No offense intended. Incidents like the one you describe tend to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth. She probably also feels you are an ugly american for embarrassing her, etc.
    I didn't really call her a smart-ass (although i was thinking it at the time so i used it for emphasis). I didn't explain the reasoning to her at the time because I didn't have the vocabulary to. It was much easier to explain it to her when she was drenched with sweat and looking for ice. I don't really think she was embarassed either - it was just me. In any case, we're still in touch so i doubt there are any hard feelings.

    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    This thread could get ugly real quick.

    I've noticed it a little too. I think a big part of it is that American culture is so heavily exported that Europeans are constantly getting big doses of American culture. At the same time so many aspects of American culture are so heavily self-critical that they get big doses of criticism of American culture.

    So the result is kinda like Americans are living in a glass house, and all the Europeans etc. are sitting around outside of it looking into it most of the day. So then they have the idea that they understand what goes on inside, because they watch it so much. But they don't really know what it's like to be inside the house because... well... they're on the outside looking in. But that doesn't stop them from thinking they do.
    Exactly. They think they know what's up because they've seen a few sit-coms and a Blockbuster's full of Hollywood trash. The french kids that come over here for the summer think that all americans race around on jet skis all summer and run from one amusement park to another (in our SUVs) with a Big Mac in one hand and a milkshake in the other (that we stopped of at the mall for).

    It seriously takes a week to deprogram these kids then another week to get over their depression once they realize that they're not staying at the MTV beach house.

    Quote Originally posted by Planificador Urbano
    I disagree - I like the independent spirit of the Europeans. I lived in Germany for three years and loved it! So they have different ways at looking at things... so what. Since when does the rest of the world have to be just like us? Thank goodness for the French and Germans and others who can think for themselves...Iraq.
    We certainly should have different ways of looking things. We should also respect those differences and not insult peoples' customs when we're in their country.

    The rest of the world shouldn't be like us. They should just offer the same respect that they demand from us.

    We've been doing the American thing for 400 years (mas o menos). It may not be as long as some European cultures but it's long enough to have figured most things out. We have a few areas that do need a lot of work but if it was really all that easy we probably would've figured it out by now. American society and culture is incredibly complex. If you want to talk to us from a position of authority on it, do your homework. One way to do that homework is to ask a lot of different kinds of Americans what we think (as opposed to telling us how it is.)



    Moderator note:
    Please folks, combine your posts instead of posting multiples
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 21 Jul 2005 at 6:45 AM.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    It sounds like you have met some small-minded, arrogant people recently. If you get flamed, it is probably because of your thread title - you picked a group and assigned them unpleasant characteristics. A bit like what you are complaining about. But now you have expanded a little, it seems you have just cause to be irritated by these individuals, who are from a range of countries.

    BTW, I hate that kind of attitude too.. and I am really embarassed when my best friend, who is from Virginia, occasionally experiences anti-U.S. sentiments from Kiwis! I'd like to think most of us are more open-minded than that but I guess you find these small-minded people everywhere.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    I didn't really call her a smart-ass (although i was thinking it at the time so i used it for emphasis). I didn't explain the reasoning to her at the time because I didn't have the vocabulary to. It was much easier to explain it to her when she was drenched with sweat and looking for ice. I don't really think she was embarassed either - it was just me. In any case, we're still in touch so i doubt there are any hard feelings.
    My impression was that she called you a smart-ass, not the other way around. So I am a little confused by your reply.

    Of course, it's possible that your description of the event fails to convey the actual tone of the encounter. FWIW, I use that same technique of "catching someone in the act". If handled diplomatically, it is extremely efficient. But it does have enormous potential to come across as obnoxious, a personal attack, etc. I try very hard to be as gentle as I can figure out how to be "in the clinch" and even humorous, if I can pull that off. If I don't feel I can pull any of that off, I try to bite my tongue and wait for another opportunity to discuss the issue.

    Most people presume to know more than they really do about a lot of things and feel entitled to judge it, condemn it, etc. And a lot of times....I am not sure how to say this. A professor of mine used to say "I am the primitive of my way" or something like that. In other words, there is a feedback loop. People say something stupid and get feedback and it influences them. Most people are very defensive about themselves, their culture, etc. and "A good offense is the best defense".

    A foreign friend of mine generally never passes up the chance to rail about The Evil American Empire. When I moved and we talked about housing, etc. between our two countries, I made some casual mention of "No, it isn't the most upscale apartment here but I also didn't move to the neighborhood where you hear gunfire sometimes." I got an earful about the evil clause in the constitution concerning "the right to bear arms" and yadda yadda. To make a long story short, I was eventually able to get across the following points: a) Beating on me continuously will not change the constitution but is highly likely to harm our friendship b) When you mentioned child molesters in the elevators I didn't begin ranting about what a depraved country you live in. c) If you cannot talk to me as an American without assuming my nationality makes me evil and I am "part of the problem" for not overthrowing Bush or something, maybe you aren't as enlightened, etc. as you think you are. d) It was not the isolated comment that bothers me, it is the pattern of behavior. So can you please once in a while pass on the opportunity to rant about The Evil American Empire.

    Last, most people do not see such patterns of behavior within themselves and think you are nitpicking, oversensitive, etc. I have never met anyone who didn't have a few piccadillos in their personality. I try very hard to distinguish between "please get your big combat boot off my foot" and "let's psychoanalyze your personality and Fix these defects". Ironically, I find that if I am consistent and polite about asking people to back it up and stop stomping on my boundaries, that frequently does begin to make them aware that they have an "ugly" habit and maybe should give it up.

    FWIW and all that.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    I arrived in the UK before 9-11, and lived there 2 years, I was insulted on several occasions accidentally and intentionally, because of my country of origin. Basically there is a strong dislike of US foreign policy (for good and bad reasons, and a stereotype of Americans that really persists in an intellectional environment that supposedly bends over backwards to be tolerant, inclusive and discourage stereotypes.

    That being said most of what I heard was no different than the casual insults I have seen carelessly hurled at foreigners at times in the US, and save one or two remarks, most of it was harmless observations about trival stuff that maybe could have been phrased better. I think its just human nature to want to critique the alien by our set of rules. I grew a thick skin pretty quick after the start of the Afgan War and left just before we went into Iraq (thankfully I did not have to make excuses for that, though one of my best friends over there still hammers me cause I thought Bush was just saber rattling)

    In all my European experience was great, if I had to go back I could easily see myself living in Stockholm, Denmark, Germany or Barcelona. (I don’t think I could settle in the UK, but it is great place to live for several years)

    I should also note that the English were pretty hard on the “Continentals” not just Americans, it also seemed that those from the North of England were the most blunt, while Scots, Welsh and most Londoners were quite pleasant.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    I almost forgot a good one when i was in Ireland (3 years ago)

    This is almost in a category all it's own because it bothers me a lot more than the rest.

    There are almost 300 million people in the US who have origins all over the globe and who are spread out over a good part of a large continent. We're all different because of our ethnic backgrounds and we're all different from region to region.

    I asked this Irish woman if she had ever been to the states and she said, "aye, i went to Florida once" So i said, "if you ever come back you'll have to visit Philly and the rest of the Northeast". She said "don't think i'll go back. no offense to you but it's a terrible place. I had quite the bad time." She then described a South Florida experience that would be typical to any tourist too young to rent a car.
    I explained to her that the Northeast is quite different from Florida. She didn't believe me.

    Imagine trying to tell a European that you don't see much of difference between Madrid and Paris (even though you've never been to Madrid)
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  17. #17

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    Your experiences don’t sound very good jresta. On the whole however, I wouldn’t say there are many more ignorant people in Europe than there are in the US, or South America, or Asia, or wherever. Unfortunately you find ignorant or rude people everywhere.

    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    Another english guy started into a critique on racism in America (while we're walking through a very stable and diverse neighborhood, mind you). I almost fell on the sidewalk laughing but i didn't say anything. Not because I think the US doesn't have any problems with race but because it was coming from an englishman and because, to use his lexicon, it was complete, uninformed rubbish.
    I think you have to be careful here; its sounds one of the reasons that the Englishman wasn’t allowed to talk about racism in the US was because he was English. Why should that have anything to do with anything? If an American gave me a critique on racism in England the only thing I would be bothered about was the accuracy or otherwise of what s/he was saying, not their nationality.

    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    An english women, after I used the word "vacation" to describe my time away from work said "I don't understand why you americans insist on using "vacation" it's a "holiday." I explained that we do have holidays in the states but vacation implies time off from work independent of a holiday. She pressed further. I said that "the Spanish can have their vacaciones, the french go en vacance, and the italians take a vacanza - i should certainly be allowed to take a vacation."
    Unfortunately a few English people seem to have a hang up with the language, It normally comes from middle aged middle-class people who abhor the ‘Americanisation’ of English. It doesn’t represent everyone though. Me? I don’t mind, languages have always evolved. Just don’t ask me to spell ‘favourite’ or ‘colour’ without a ‘u’

    I also think that unfortunately a lot more people in Europe dislike the US now because of Bush’s foreign and enviornmental policies, specifically Iraq and Kyoto. Disappointingly that sometimes translates into being rude or obnoxious to American citizens. It shouldn’t do but it does. For the same reason on Iraq I would imagine that a lot more Europeans dislike the UK now.

    Quote Originally posted by Howard Roark
    I should also note that the English were pretty hard on the “Continentals” not just Americans, it also seemed that those from the North of England were the most blunt, while Scots, Welsh and most Londoners were quite pleasant.
    This is quite interesting Howard, as it is a commonly held view over here that the further north you go the friendlier people are, and that all Londoners are brash arrogant types. I know a few Londoners who aren't all that bad, they just talk funny .

    Scottish and Welsh people again are quite friendly, unless you're English <calls Journeymouse to the thread >
    Last edited by noj; 21 Jul 2005 at 7:37 AM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by noj
    Scottish and Welsh people again are quite friendly, unless you're English <calls Journeymouse to the thread >
    You call and I answer

    Noj is right, there are ignorant and rude people everywhere, and education and income doesn't necessarily translate to wisdom (re: comments on accents, assuming that the government of a country if reflective of it's inhabitants, etc.).

    With regard to friendliness around the UK, and amongst the Home Nations abroad (and this is all in my experience so not gospel!):
    1. Being British
      I am British. Not English. Not Welsh. I was born outside of the UK and generally consider myself an immigrant, because of the attitude towards my support for the Welsh rugby team/pride in my mixed Home Nation heritage. This is common among people of "mixed" Home Nation heritage in England, as they often identify more with the "Exile" part than the English part. When ever the 6 Nations Rugby Union tournament comes round, even some of my close friends can get very insulting about me being a "traitor" (and only half-joking) despite usually making it clear that I'm not really English at all other times. Go figure.

      I also have problems explaining being British rather than English abroad. Most people of other nations assume that it is the same. The British abroad (and generally the English faction) can be quite arrogant, the stereotype about the shout louder, speak slower, they'll get it eventually is still alive and well, even though most individuals don't actually conform to this. The worst of the English footbal fans has tarred the Home Nations aborad with a "drunk, disorderly, probably volent" tag and I have also suffered from being the same generation as the people who like to go on holiday just to act like England football fans If I'm somewhere where British and English are confused and these stereotypes are alive and well, the locals usually assume I'm Dutch from my behaviour.
    2. England and the English
      Having spent a fair time in various parts of Yorkshire, Humberside/North Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Kent and Surrey, I would quite happily stake anything I own on saying that I prefer the Northerners. Blunt perhaps, but generally very friendly and helpful with most insults in jest (In fact, insults are a large part of Northern humour). I have been "adopted" by most Yorkshire people I have met and included as their countryman despite having grown up over the border in what is now North Lincolnshire. This alone is enough to make Yorkshire the only place in England that feels like home to me enough for me to want to settle (bad pun!) there. If I can get work there, of course. What a lot of people don't realise outside of the North of England, is how deep the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire is. "We" argue like cats and dogs, but it's usually good humoured (that sense of humour again). They do like to gang up on any Southerners stupid enough to question the long standing arguement. Northerners are more inclined to comment on differences in accent, clothing and so on on first meeting, but it generally won't be mentioned again beyond that.

      Southerners, in my experience, are generally politer, but it doesn't make them any nicer. In fact, Southerners are less likely to acknowledge a stranger's presence and more likely to "cut you up" either on the road or the pavement. Any differences will not generally be mentioned on first meetings, but they will become conversation piece. They are also less accepting of the "mixed" heritage idea.

      Midlanders (Staffordshire and Warwickshire) of course are more of a mix, being somewhere in between!
    3. Wales and the Welsh
      I haven't been to Wales very often, but no one has ever asked me where I was from, beyond starting conversations about family history (one of the main reasons I visit). In my experience, people tend to be friendly and fairly polite, but accepting of my more blunt way of speaking and my odd sense of humour. When abroad and meeting Welsh people, I find myself "adopted" as an honourary Welsh woman for the duration. This is usually on hearing the surname (Thomas), which is a very welsh name (but see below) that causes curiousity about where it's from. If anyone is curious, it's Pembroke, by way of Eglwysilan parish (near Caerphilly and Cardiff). It is however, very offensive to tell a Welshman that Wales is part of England (story to follow), although you might be interested to know that there is a village called Wales in West Yorkshire and a village called Walesby in Nottinghamshire. They derive their origin from the word Wealas (saxon/old english) meaning foreigner, just as Wales the country does. Whether they are connected to actual Welsh people/Cymry, I don't know.

      Short story:
      Friend of mine goes on holiday to Mexico. He sat on the beach chatting up this gorgeous American bird and she says something like "Where are you from?". He puffs up with national pride and says, "Wales". She looks a bit blank, blinks then says, "Is that that little place in England near London?". He walks off in a huff.
    4. Scottish
      Haven't been to Scotland yet, but I'm working on it The Scots this side of the border that I have met are all very relaxed and amused by the English goings on. I have no idea wht they're seeing, by the way, that's just the way it seems. North versus South discussions should immediately stop in a Scots presence unless you wish to be laughed out of the room. A time or two, I have been told that Thomas is a good Scottish name, swiftly followed by an attempt to place me in the Thomas clan. And Scots really don't take well to hearing that Scotland is part of England (technically, seeing as the Scots took the English throne back in umpty-umpt it's the other way round) or that English and British are the same.

    And with regard to other Europeans, I've found the French friendly, but they get insulted if you don't at least attempt a bit of the French language. The Dutch I've met are an odd mix of arrogance and modesty, something to do with being so capable despite the lack of an international tongue, perhaps? The Germans are very English (no surprises there, then) and I'm convinced that the only reason they have a bad image as holiday makers (for the Brits) is simply because the Brits keep getting beaten to the best spots. I think they might also be getting a bit fed up of apologising for something that happened 60 years ago as it seems to be personally held against every German, particularly in France.

    Here endeth the lesson
    Glorious Technicolor, Breath-Taking CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound!

  19. #19

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    Great post journeymouse (the 'noj is right' bit confirmed it for me )

    I've never really considered myself English, but British and European. It's a cliche, but true that people in the north are generally friendlier than in the south - I was born and bred in Cambridge where people look at you strangely if you try to start a conversation, but my family are from Sheffield and I now live in North Derbyshire. Around here a short 5 minute walk to the shop turns into a half hour chat with the shop owner about the weather, cricket, the traffic etc. It's great

    About Wales, my brother used to live in a small town north of Cardiff. He always used to say that if the Welsh hated the English as much as they did the village in the next valley, they would have been truly independant years ago. Maybe it's a regional thing; northerners and the Celts do regard trading insults very much as part of their humour. This suits me very well

    I realise this may all be getting a bit off topic, so apologies for that.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    "Unfortunately a few English people seem to have a hang up with the language, It normally comes from middle aged middle-class people who abhor the ‘Americanisation’ of English. It doesn’t represent everyone though. Me? I don’t mind, languages have always evolved. Just don’t ask me to spell ‘favourite’ or ‘colour’ without a ‘u’

    I also think that unfortunately a lot more people in Europe dislike the US now because of Bush’s foreign and enviornmental policies, specifically Iraq and Kyoto. Disappointingly that sometimes translates into being rude or obnoxious to American citizens. It shouldn’t do but it does. For the same reason on Iraq I would imagine that a lot more Europeans dislike the UK now."

    Right that was from Noj's Mail, my stuff starts below.

    Noj makes very relevant and interesting points. Dividing this down the line, into those who will give out about the americanisation of the english language, but maybe a more benign view of the American people, and those who feel that being rude to American people is a way of expressing their dislike of the current American administration may be the easiest way of separating my reply.

    I am not middle aged, yet I get really annoyed about the Americanisation of the version of the english language spoken in Ireland. The word and sentence structure of the spoken word is significantly different to the written language due to the fact that english in Ireland has always "borrowed" its structure from Gaelic. Dialects and accents differ vastly from region to region and can change massively over a distance of a few miles.

    However it is changing. Change as Noj says happens to all languages. It is an evolution, and the english language is brilliant at adapting this change, resulting in words from every language being adapted. This is how english evolved. Yet now that evolution has stopped, except for what seems like one source. American English. From my own personal experience accents in Ireland are being diluted, and one homogenous "Friends" accent is developing among Irish people. "like" is ubiquitous, as is a raised inflection at the end of each sentence making a statement into a question. This has translated into such an extent that people refer to autumn as fall.

    While this seems, and maybe sounds petty, it just generates a low level of antagonism among people of a certain age (i.e. the ones who vote and generally voice opinions). While nobody on this forum is responsible for this, or can really do anything about it, it is a pasteurisation of general culture.

    Regarding the second point. I think Noj has hit the nail on the head. This is shown by people in an ignorant way because to the larger populace in Ireland (and maybe the UK) they dissaprove of what is being done in Iraq (I personally approved, but am getting worried about a lack of cohesive thought). This dissaproval has been expressed time and again to national governments, but because nothing is seen to be done by their governments, they instead state unthinking opinions to American people they come across.

    I know this forum is an American based. I joined up on that basis so I could enjoy a wider spectrum of thought. I dissaprove most strongly of people being rude and obnoxious to American people when they live or visit Ireland over actions being done by their government. It gains nothing and only antagonises people.

    The changes in the Irish/English spoken word as mentioned above really boil my blood though. maybe it is a bit like going to another country and being told to respect various traditions and cultural idioms. If the culture is different enough, you try to change your behaviour somewhat to show respect. When the culture shares the same language and similar values as yours, then there may be less inclination to follow cultural rules in those countries purely because the are not immediately obvious. So everyone trips merrily along, unknowingly leaving slightly irked people in their trail.

    This is not meant to be a lecture, just a rant against a sea-change I suppose.

  21. #21
    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by noj
    Maybe it's a regional thing; northerners and the Celts do regard trading insults very much as part of their humour.
    You know, up until it became the Danelaw, the North of England was just as (brythonic) "celtic" as the Scottish Borders and Wales. The ruling classes married each other as usual so they may not have been, and there were skirmishes and pocket settlements by Angles and Norse of various flavours (York, etc), but the kingdoms were still considered British up until England was united (Ethelred of Wessex or something similar in the 900s, I think?) and the underlying population wouldn't have changed much in the hundred years between that and the Danelaw, which again won't have changed much.

    The things the give as evidence are:
    • A lot of Old Northern dialect words are either Norse or British. Very little dialect seems to have come from the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Most of these words are now being lost, due to the insistance on a standard English and how easy and fast modern communication is.
    • Place names such as Penrith (Cumbria), Sherbourne in Elmet (Yorkshire, but Elmet was the longest standing independent "British" kingdom in England). Cumbria itself derives from the same root as Cymru/Cymry (Wales/Welsh).
    • Choirs (Yorkshire was famed for its choirs and singing right up to the Industrial Revolution)
    • Rugby - There is evidence that rugby is a game that independently evolved from the village football that "soccer" footbal did and that the take up of Rugby and it's regions of popularity reflect where the more handed version of village football was played and thus a cultural connection. (Stretching a bit? )
    Glorious Technicolor, Breath-Taking CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    Life could be worse jresta! Your houseguests could be limited to Jersey boys who apparently just want to get stoned and drunk in their spare time, which is a situation I've found myself in in years past! And a French girl in the house? How bad could that be? Oops, another stereotype!

    I wonder if criticism of a culture is just considered more acceptable as small talk among Europeans. I've experienced it to, from Aussies and Kiwis as well. In a hostel in Scotland they were criticizing American television: "See, this is what America shares with the rest of the world. Absolute *****!" I told the girl that said that they export al the bad shows and that apparently there is a market for it.

    In Holland years ago, watching BBC news, there was this crusty old guy doing an editorial, just railing on the French. It was something like "Their women are precocious and lewd, their men are slovenly and arrogant..." And on he went. I thought it was supposed to be a comedy bit at first, it was so hilarious.

    I also wonder if Europeans and Brits are more inclined to debate as a form of social discourse. They seem to more actively seek out the controversial topics in conversation. Here we want to keep things nicey-nice and pleasant and not ruin the convivial mood. You don't want to be thought of as a "Debbie Downer" lest you find your social life to be on the decline.

    But when you find yourself being called upon to defend a government that you don't support, to defend a way of life that you are not so enamored with and see the hypocrisies of, it can get draining. You want to say "Why are you lumping me in with all those Americans? I'm nothing like them!
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  23. #23
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by noj
    Your experiences don’t sound very good jresta. On the whole however, I wouldn’t say there are many more ignorant people in Europe than there are in the US, or South America, or Asia, or wherever. Unfortunately you find ignorant or rude people everywhere.

    I think you have to be careful here; its sounds one of the reasons that the Englishman wasn’t allowed to talk about racism in the US was because he was English. Why should that have anything to do with anything? If an American gave me a critique on racism in England the only thing I would be bothered about was the accuracy or otherwise of what s/he was saying, not their nationality.
    [/I]
    It would be hard for me to convey everything that this guy was saying and the tone of the conversation. It was more of a lecture about how bad things are in the states and how they don't have these type of problems in England. I know a thing or two about English history and maybe a thing or three about England post WWII . . . it's really not all that pretty. That's why he had no business saying what he was saying.

    You're right, there are ignorant people everywhere. Unfortunately my experiences have been with the (suposedly) well educated. I could take you down to 10th & Porter our out to Pottsville and introduce you to some really ugly Americans who would be surprised to hear that the internet exists outside of the US. I've certainly bumped into their counterparts in London.

    The point of me using the term "ugly euro" to hoist it on your own petard. We certainly didn't invent the term "ugly american" There's a certain cultural arrogance that comes across quite clearly in Europe that definitely involves lumping americans in the same boat (and is absolutely apparent in the european press) - even though the large part of americans who travel in europe don't fit the stereotype (otherwise, chances are, they wouldn't be travelling there in the first place.)
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    There's a certain cultural arrogance that comes across quite clearly in Europe that definitely involves lumping americans in the same boat (and is absolutely apparent in the european press) - even though the large part of americans who travel in europe don't fit the stereotype (otherwise, chances are, they wouldn't be travelling there in the first place.)
    Well, keep in mind that European culture has been "arrogant" for at least 400 years. You can't colonize/enslave half the world without thinking you're "better" than the "inferior" races. Throw in the politics and the fashionableness of disdaining the United States (while gobbling up plenty of Big Macs and rap CDs), and you get the Ugly Euro.

    You all know I am appalled by current US foreign policy. Doesn't mean I like the hypocrisy of, say, France. (And, they are not just "different" They are hypocrites as willing to deal with the fascist mullahs in Iran and Sadaam as any American Neoconservative)

  25. #25
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Heck, I'm an American who gets annoyed and arrogant towards other Americans! Especially my generation.... The generation who won't care about anything in the world, until it shows up as an MTV special...

    Where do I fit in?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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