Nationality Identification

Jan 9th, 2007, 10:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4,412
<<<<<And I never met a Canadian pretending to be American.>>>>>

You may never have met one, but you've likely seen one as Hollywood is full of them. In fact there are a number of speech coaches in Canada who train aspiring Canadian actors to lose their Canadian accents in order to work in the U.S. (and it's not just a matter of dropping the "eh" and not saying "hoose" and "aboot").

On the subject of Americans pretending to be Canadians, the question "What's a double-double?" is a useful shibboleth, but in case the pretender should know the answer, here's a more comprehensive quiz, which I posted in an earlier thread:

What's a two-four blue?

Can you competently use all eight categories of the interrogative "Eh?"

Can you distinguish a loonie from a toonie? Without looking?

Who is Stompin' Tom and what is his connection with hockey?

Who has more hair--Lloyd Robertson or Peter Mansbridge? For a bonus, name two of Peter's wives.

laverendrye is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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I have only been tempted to say I am not American one time…

I was in a taxi in Talinn, Estonia shortly after the U.S. moved in to Pakistan. I went to Talinn with a few colleagues from work ( I was living and working in Riga, Latvia at the time), but I happened to be in this taxi alone.

The usual conversation that I have in taxis all over Europe began – “Where are you from?” to which I reply Miami in the United States. Usually this is followed by “Wow, Miami. I would love to go there. Is it like it is on tv? The weather is nice no?” But not this time – I was treated to a complete attack on Bush, the United States, the people of the United States, and me personally. I went from feeling uncomfortable to a bit frightened really. I was tempted to say, “Did I say I was from America? I meant Canada…” but I didn’t. Instead I just sat there and took the abuse.

What really angered me about this is the fact I too am not a fan of Bush. I was one of those people that said if Bush won, I would leave the U.S. And unlike Sharon Stone, I actually did leave. It’s one thing to voice negative opinions about Bush, the U.S. government, and even the American people in general (because half of America did vote for Bush and Europe knows this fact). But this taxi driver had no idea which half of the American population I represented, and completely went off and yelled horrible things to me, telling me how horrible of a person I am, like I was personally responsible for Pakistan and the future Iraq invasions. Unbelievable.

There were also some unpleasant times in Riga. It got to the point where my American colleagues and I kept our voices to a whisper when walking around the streets in the center of Riga at night so that others could not hear us speaking english. Either that or be subjected to Latvians and (mostly) Russians screaming at us to go home to America. I left Latvia in 2003 and moved to Italy. I have not encountered any serious problems here.
amy_zena is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:54 AM
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“A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They're loud and ostentatious. Perhaps they're frightened and defensive, or maybe they're not properly trained and make mistakes out of ignorance." - The Ugly American

Only the ones you notice, pal.
Robespierre is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 12:10 PM
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If someone asks, I always say I'm from California and have always had a positive response. Everyone (except, possibly, those from the rest of the U.S.) loves Californians.
Trophywife007 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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When I was a student in Montpellier (France) I was subjected to "attitude" from the North African kids in the neighbourhood, until the point at which I revealed I was not French, but English.

Doors opened, drinks bought, lifts into town, dinner invitations with the family.....
waring is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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Why do people put flags on their luggage and clothes anyway?
nona1 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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amy_zena, you could have pointed out to your misinformed cabbie that the US hadn't "gone into" Pakistan at all. After all, you would have known that. Mind you, all those Stans can confuse one.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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Because, nona, for some people that is a crucial aspect of their personal identity. Some people wear crosses around their necks. Some people drive cars with the name of their alma mater on the rear window. Some people wear wedding rings. Some people wear Dodgers caps to the Giants games. And some people don't do any of those things.

In the interests of full disclosure: I wear a wedding ring. So I'm not saying anything other than what is.
LucieV is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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My husband and I have traveled all over the world and have never pretended to be anything other than what we are. He's Israeli and has been taken for the local nationality in whatever country we've visited - Greeks speak to him in Greek, Turks in Turkish, ditto for Italians/Hungarians/Czechs/Argentinians.I'm a blue-eyed blond(ish) American and have been taken for various northern nationalities until I open my mouth. On our travels, both of us wear exactly what we'd be wearing at home if we were walking around all day.

When I traveled in the 60s and 70s, Americans did look distinctive from non-Americans but the differences (even in the shoes) have diminished so rapidly that it's hard to tell, at times, unless you can actually hear the language spoken.

Maybe more important: it seems to me that you are while you're traveling whatever you are when you're at home. A respectful, quiet, polite person at home does NOT magically transform into a loud, obnoxious, pushy person in another country.

Perhaps a graffiti that we saw this year in Buenos Aires pretty much sums up the way people seem to feel about Americans all over the world: Patria, si. Bush, no.
ready2travel is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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For our part, we have a canadian flag sewn to the back of our travel backpack simply because the first time we travelled overseas, my mother freaked out and insisted. Despite the fact that Jamikins and I are grown adults, it was just easier to go along with it than argue (score one for laziness). We've left it on because we've just never thought about taking it off (score two for laziness), and it makes finding it on an airport luggage carousel easier (that's three points for laziness). Plus, we're proud to be Canadian (and one point for patriotism).
BikerScott is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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>I was in a taxi in Talinn, Estonia shortly after the U.S. moved in to Pakistan.<

The US is much to large to move into Pakistan.

You aren't referring to the war to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban, are you - the one that was supported by NATO and the UN?

ira is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 05:39 PM
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I am curious: what is "The Conversation"? (Other than a wonderful movie with Gene Hackman.)

Trophywife, yes, that's true about CA. When we say we're from San Francisco, we always get a warm smile, and sometimes a little wink ... deserved or not!

LucieV is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Well you asked and I used the term, so I'll answer, undoubtedly inviting all kinds of trouble.

"The Conversation" goes something like this, though I'm abridging considerably:

"Are you an American?"


"Your President Bush is responsible for all the troubles in the world."

(Although an American friend in Paris was actually met with this remark from the baker's counter person, I do exaggerate. Usually the criticisms of the president are much more specific and intelligent.)

"In my opinion, Mr. Bush is the worst president we Americans have ever had."

"How did he ever get elected?"

I offer my thoughts on that. We both deplore the mess in Iraq. I point out that I marched in the streets of Paris before the invasion to oppose it.

And so forth.

A few conversations of this nature are fine. Dozens of them become tedious.

The French are quite capable of distinguishing between the American people and the president and his policies. Americans are warmly received here.
Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 08:47 PM
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And if I've offended any Canadians, I beg their pardon. My wife recently addressed a Canadian audience of several hundred in Nova Scotia and admitted to this occasional lie.

The response was laughter.
Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 09:23 PM
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"Your President Bush is responsible for all the troubles in the world."

Only a very stupid person would say something crazy like that. I hope you
encouraged him to improve his education.
NorthShore is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 10:47 PM
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Fair point, NorthShore. He tries hard, but there's only so much one guy can do.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 10:53 PM
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The French are quite capable of distinguishing between the American people and the president and his policies. Americans are warmly received here.

on face value, there is nothing in this statement with which i disagree. however, this kind of statement is often used on this board to explain away comments one may have received while travelling. For example, when someone posts that they received some unwelcomed comments about the US government whilst travelling, the response is often, 'don't worry, they don't have a problem with you, only the US government'.

this may be true but it ignores the problem that it is extremely rude to comment about the government of a visitor to your country in that manner. if the conversation goes that way and it's mutual, fine. but are we saying that it would be ok to see a chinese tourist and start immediately commenting to him about how bad his government is? imo, this would be extremely rude and inappropriate and represents anything but a 'warm reception'. am i missing something?

btw, i have no idea how much these comments occur and where so i'm not implying that anyone would not get a warm reception in any particular country. i'm only talking about what i think about it when or if it happens
walkinaround is offline  
Jan 9th, 2007, 11:12 PM
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I couldn't agree more. It's the height of rudenss to offer an insulting and unsolicited political opinion. I don't have much respect for what many leaders of other countries do (or fail to do) but I certainly wouldn't dream of mentioning it to people who are guests in my country!

What's even more astonishing is watching fellow Americans cave in under this kind of rudeness: "oh no, I don't like my country or it's administration, either (please, please think I'm sophisticated and cool!!)", totally missing that nobody thinks well of those who lack self-respect.

People from other countries may have serious issues about their government but they will very rarely insult it before people not of the same nationality, much less when they aren't on their own soil. National pride is much, much more than mere fleeting current politics--whatever your opinion on it.

cupid1 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 12:16 AM
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Sorry guys. I have to disagree with the above comments.

President Bush started a war in Iraq. That's something that effects us all and not just the US. Most Europeans were bothered greatly by this decision and feel it is OK to talk about it.

I agree with them as long as it is done in a civil manner.
kleeblatt is offline  
Jan 10th, 2007, 12:28 AM
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Thanks to those explaining the flags. It seems an odd, if harmless, thing that some nationalities like to do. (I guess us Brits are not that patriotic. Although now I think of it, you do get the lager louts wearing union jack shirts, ugh. Little flags are a much better idea).

Biker, can I just ask why your mum freaked out and insisted that you put a flag on? What did she think it would do? Make you safer? How? How would you be less safe without a flag? I'm in no way criticising, I am just genuinely curious here.As a mum I know that we insist on all sorts of things that make our kids groan ;-)
nona1 is offline  

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