Friday, June 11, 2004, 05:59 GMT
Septic, so what is your take on the original question?
European View of American English
Friday, June 11, 2004, 05:59 GMT
Septic, so what is your take on the original question?
Friday, June 11, 2004, 07:42 GMT
Septic: I adore Macdonalds, BK KFC etc. You cannot possibly deny American insularity when it is so plainly exists, but I do agree with you all the step of the way that references to it may be unwarranted and are not relevant to the topic being discussed. I plead guilty to this offence myself on occasion in this forum. It is not meant in any malevolent way at all.
Incidentally, to say "not liking" the American accent (which one anyway?) is akin to "not liking" Americans is not true. I have sort of winced at an American accent but found the person concerned really lovely in personality. I think America is now in the same position Great Britain was in times gone by.....a leading power and thus open to sniping and criticism from everyone else. Maybe it's your turn now. Anyway, what has this to do with Language? Hey, you raised it! Have a nice day!
Friday, June 11, 2004, 09:38 GMT
Burger King is British.
Friday, June 11, 2004, 09:59 GMT
I will try answering the original question from an American point of view.
My guess would be that most Europeans do not think about this kind of thing. When they do, it would be just a quick thought or it would only last a couple of sentences in a conversation about languages before moving on to something else.
However, my guess would be that Europeans see Americans as being a "nation of nations" and that the Americans can claim no language like the Germans, English, French of Russians can.
Basically, I would imagine Europeans think there is no "American language."
To go a bit further, American English can be anyone's language because anyone, in theory, can be American. Also, American English can be a "heritage" language (I prefer "ancestral language") to many Americans who have grandparents and great-grandparents who were native English-speaking Americans. Half of my great-great-grandparents were native American English-speakers (the other half were native Danish, French or English [from England] speakers). So American English goes back a long way in my ancestry.
Similarly, most African-Americans have American English-speaking ancestors that have been in American long before any European Americans' ancestors came to America.
Friday, June 11, 2004, 13:47 GMT
Damian: I didn't raise these points. Someone asked a question about heritage languages (for which I'll defer to people on this board who are quite clearly more knowledgeable) and a few people brought forth a knee-jerk reaction to how Europeans perceive American culture in general.
I'm also not denying American insularity and I'm not implying that you said it in a malevolent way, however this "quality" being held as a universal truth by Europeans who consider themselves inherently more worldly by implication is a bit much in my opinion. What do most people in the UK or Continental Europe (or Canada, New Zealand or Australia) really know about the US that isn't spoon fed to them by a media that consistently reinforces negative cultural images? What do people in the UK or Continental Europe know about other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa or South America? You are talking about the difference between parochialism and a more devious form of parochialism, so you can imagine how it grates when this is oft repeated as a testament to underline European attitudes of moral and cultural superiority toward Americans.
Also, I stand by my point that the general aversion to American accents in the British Isles indicates a general ambivalence toward Americans in the British Isles, often passive in my opinion. There have been studies conducted on this very subject.
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 09:36 GMT
Well, I wouldn't say English isn't our heritage language. We do have ties to Britain and America was an English creation aside from the fact that Americans of majority British descent are the second largest group without taking into account the Irish. Also although for some of us English may not be our language heritage by blood, it is our our language by cultural heritage. And this I say for the majority of White Americans who have blended into the melting pot as to differentiate from the ethnic Polish, Italian American who still lives in Little Italy or Little Warsaw or something;
Also, have any of you heard of the Safir Worf theorem; basically how language influences your culture and point of view; being that for 82% of us English is our native tongue, it would go to say that we share many parts of our culture with Britain and our British antecedents.
Although some Americans have no
British Isle ancestry at all, most have taken on the culture of the early protestant british-isle settlers. You should read Albion's Seed, Four Folkways in America by Paul Graham Fischer. It tells about how the basic culture of the major regions of the United States were shaped by the different types of settlers from the British Isles and no matter where your ancestors come from you take on that culture. For example,the South predominantly settled by nomadic pastoralists from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales has a code of honor, hospitality yet a severe retribution (violence) for breaking cultural taboos which is somewhat reminescent of pastoralist societies.
Anyway, I've gone around all over the place but from most of the Europeans I met they erroneouly still think the overwhelming majority of us are English even though the top group for the last decade is German. I guess this shows how your language reflects ethnicty or something in the eyes of others. So, going back to your original question, they don't see us as" heritageless" (if there is such a word), because they see Britain as our heritage by blood and culture. Although in my opinion not so much anymore by blood, but I would definitely agree by culture.
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 11:42 GMT
Jeannette, that was very interesting. I can better understand now how Europeans, in general, view us as Americans and our language.
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 19:09 GMT
Damian has said:
"TRUE native Americans were literally consigned to obscurity in much the same way as were the Aborigine peoples in Australia, the Maoris in New Zealand"
This is very misleading: the aboriginal people in Australia were still "hunter-gatherers" when the first 17th Century Europeans found them.
As hunter-gatherers they recognised no territorial limits to their movement and this was not the experience of the European settlers; but Australia is big and the two lifestyles have accommodated each other peacefully.
The Maoris of New Zealand, however, are Polynesians who sailed from Polynesian islands with relatively modern tribal and community laws and knowledge.
The British and the Maoris came to understand and respect each other very quickly.
In neither Australia nor New Zealand have the British settlers ever "consigned to obscurity" the earlier peoples.
It would be as well for our readers here to use the Internet Search Engines to learn about the colonisation of different parts of the world by the English-speaking peoples, and the present free Commonwealth and its friends affiliated or allied to the British Crown.
To see the extent through the whole world of English-speaking peoples open this link:
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 19:37 GMT
The previous fascinating collection of messages here should be preserved as a form of chronicle, we believe.
One aspect which does not seem to have been mentioned id that of the population of the British Isles at the beginning of each century from, say,
The British Isles (which include Ireland so how anyone can say the Irish are not British defeats all!) are very small, and has a small population.
It is worthy of examination, when reading about some historic global adventure of Britsh islanders around the world, to check the actual population-numbers of the British at that particular time.
Winston Churchill said about the Royal Air Force fighter pilots of 1940 that "Never had so many owed so much to so few"; but think about those words when you consider how few people lived in Britain when Walter Raleigh founded his colony in Virginia, or when Hong Kong began to be a centre of commerce; or when the railways were first laid in India or the first rubber trees were planted in Malaya or the first sheep were seen in Australia and New Zealand.
Saturday, June 12, 2004, 21:25 GMT
Harrow English School......yeah, ok....the island of Ireland is part of the British Isles geographically, but I would really like to know how many citizens of the Republic of Ireland would agree with you and say: "Yes we are British even though we are Irish!" If you had a quid for everyone who agreed with that statement I don't think you have much of a good night out on the proceeds.
The British Isles have a small population? Wow! Has there been some huge catastrophe or a horrible epidemic I've been blissfully unaware about even though I've been in these islands all my life? 59 million people in 315,029 sq km. Texas USA: 18 million people in 692,408 sq km.
I don't understand your other reasonings in our last posting. Am I completely missing something?
Monday, June 14, 2004, 07:17 GMT
Harrow english school,
I am afraid Damian is right. I don't know any irish guy who will tell you he feels british before being irish. They just feel irish, like a greek feels greeks. A fistfull of northern irsh feels british. I think you know better the subject than myself with a name like yours "harrow english school".
Tuesday, June 15, 2004, 15:58 GMT
Hey Jeannette Krueger
That was the best response so far on the question of whether there is an American Heritage Language. I am going to restate it a little more clearly.
English is our heritage language. We do have ties to Britain and America was an English creation aside from the fact that Americans of majority British descent are the only the second largest group without taking into account the Irish. (Irish and Scots have their own Heritage) German speakers are the biggest group. Please note this in not a unified group. As a good percentage of German immigrants were Jews with yet another Heritage, altogether.
The majority of White Americans who have blended into the melting pot have taken on this WASP Heritage, as opposed to the relatively few enclaves of ethnic Polish, Russian or Italian Americans who still lives in Little Italy or Little Warsaw in some of the larger American cities.
Also, have any of you heard of the Safir Worf theorem; basically how language influences your culture and point of view; being that for 82% of us English is our native tongue, it would be correct to say that we share much of our culture with Britain and our British antecedents.
Although, about 50% of Americans have no
British Isle ancestry at all, most have taken on the culture of the early protestant british-isle settlers (WASP). You should read Albion's Seed, Four Folkways in America by Paul Graham Fischer. It tells about how the basic culture of the major regions of the United States were shaped by the different types of settlers from the British Isles and no matter where your ancestors come from you take on that culture, of the region of the United States where you settled. For example,the South predominantly settled by nomadic pastoralists from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales originally had a code of honor, hospitality, yet with a severe retribution (violence) for the breaking cultural taboos, some of which has been retained and colors Southern mores. And the U.S. Civil War created a requirement to build a shared Heritage around the founding fathers. And so our unique Heritage has evolved from that point.
So it is erroneous to still think of us as having exactly the same heritage as the English. I guess this shows how your language reflects ethnicty or something in the eyes of others. So, going back to your original question,
I don't think Europeans (Non-British) see us as" heritageless" (if there is such a word).
I think they see us with an ordinary Britain heritage, by blood and by culture.
In truth, it is not so much anymore by blood, but I would definitely agree with by culture. But even though we share the same cultural roots/traditions with Britain, we have accumulated some additional Heritage since we split off from Britain in 1776.
P.S. On a side issue, I agree also with an earlier point that the general aversion to American accents in the British Isles indicates a general passive ambivalence toward Americans in the British Isles. I haven't really studied this, but I have experianced the feelings of resentment, in Europe.
Maybe overfamilarity breeds contempt. But there seems to be a feeling or malaise that they are being passed by, and American culture will supplant them, through no fault of their own. They seem to take every opportunity to put the Americans and their culture down. There may be some cultural guilt, too, in the case of France.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004, 16:02 GMT
America went through a strong Puritanical Religious revival in 17 and 18 hundreds, that still colors local culture, especially in the Bible Belt.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004, 16:27 GMT
Paul.....passive ambivalance here in the UK....yeah, I guess it's true.....it is so difficult to define and describe in detail.....I really don't have anything like your level of experience and competence to make a valid contribution,(so shut up I hear you say!) but I suppose it is a sort of love-hate relationship. Although we embrace a lot of your culture (I for one LOVE McDonalds KFC etc....I almost said BK but I was told that is British eeks!!) we would HATE to have a lot of the rest. The accents....yes.. a pretty strong aversion generally...but there you go! As I have mentioned before in my posts, the American girl students here at uni.....erm, er.......
Wednesday, June 16, 2004, 18:50 GMT
Check out the Australians