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Quintessential qualities of an American...

By onbliss ·
Well that was a question posed to me by an non-American friend. Definitely, he was alluding to the fact that USA is a land of European Immigrants, mainly, hence takes qualities/properties/characterisitcs pertaining to Europeans. There is an element of truth. But, I think Americans did develop some special attributes in 300-400 years.

Without getting into the merrit of my friend's question, I invite your to say what you think is that uniquely portrays an American. If you are a not an American, say what you perceive that is unique about America.

Canadians and Australians are welcome to say about their country and countrymen..Oops countryperson too :-))))

No wars here please, this post is not to slight anybody. So try to bring out the points positively. :-)))

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Max: some points

by onbliss In reply to You won't get any to fit ...

Granted, major cities of America have people from almost every place on earth. But, I would hesitate to call it as 'the most diverse nation'. I believe there are other places that have comparable diversity.

I like your 'tossed salad' description :-))

Regarding love of freedom and liberty, again there are several cultures and people who seek that. It is not unique to America. Don't you think some of the Scandinavian countries are quite comparable regarding freedom?

I know on the whole my quest of finding the qualities/culture of an American might be real stupid. But I have shot out my mouth :-)))))

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Some clarification

by maxwell edison In reply to Max: some points

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America is a land of immigrants. And other than Canada, I can't think of another nation that's even close in terms of diversity of culture. You might say France and England, I suppose, and I'd have to admit that others would be more qualified than I to make such a claim (since I've never been to either country). But from my understanding I'll stand by my comments. Which country do you think has more diversity of culture than Canada or the USA?

My "love of freedom and liberty" comments might require an understanding of my premise. Sure, America is certainly not alone in its love of freedom and liberty, at least in the sense that the opposite might be seen as some form of dictatorship. However, my premise would suggest that any socialistic tendencies on one hand require the forfeiture of certain freedoms and liberties on the other. For example, the Scandinavian countries that you mentioned, Sweden in particular, are among the most socialistic in the world. I suppose they might even refer to themselves as social-democracies. In order to maintain such systems, the government must take, by force, personal property (money) from one citizen in order to give it to another, whether that transfer be in the form of actual money, goods, or services. I believe that the mere act of seizing personal property (money) from its citizens takes away that citizen's freedom and liberty, at least in part. I believe this especially holds true when it's done for the purpose of funding social programs. And just because a citizen freely allows it, doesn't mean it isn't true. If a citizen chooses to give up freedoms and liberties in order to maintain a socialized society, they're still given up. And what does that mean to the citizen who would prefer not to participate in such a system. That person's liberties are literally trampled upon. So, like it or not, for better or worse, Americans, as a whole, are slowly but surely giving up their freedoms and liberties in return for, what they perceive, as a little personal social security. (And I mean "social" security, not as the program, even though that's part of it, but as a whole.)

As for my "melting pot" turned "tossed salad", it used to be that the immigrants who came to America would be, more or less, assimilated into a more common culture. One of the first things people would do, for example, is learn the language. All one has to do is look at the Spanish-English debate to see that it is no longer the case. I'm not suggesting that it's good or bad, but that it just is.

But if I had to name one "quality" of an American that always has and still does apply, I would suggest that it is the ability to be anything that you want to be - even if it's a failure to realize that.

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Don't get me wrong when I said...

by onbliss In reply to Some clarification

..about my hesitancy in calling USA as the most diverse nation. I live in USA and can see that. I thought the usage of "one of the most" would have been better.
Anyway I was not thinking of England or France for being diverse :-)))) Certainly not. LOL

The answer in short would be India. But I was thinking of mostly countries like China, Czhec and Yugoslavia (in their previous incarnations), Russia, CIS countries

It is futile to debate which country has the most diverse culture, traditions and population. As we can always see some homogeneousity or heterogeneousity as the way we want it.

But were'nt the earlier immigrants mostly Engslish speaking? Ofcourse several Northern Europeans did come over here. What role do you think the ethinicity played in the assimilation process. I am sure the Spanish Europeans mingled better than the Hispanic people. Maybe there is an element of race, color, creed or whatever....Just a thought. You might cite that African-Americans, who probably brought more diversity, assimilated better. But they were brought far far in the earlier days. Situation and Time forced them to integrate faster and better. I might be totally wrong. Feel free to correct me.

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England and France's diversity

by Oz_Media In reply to Don't get me wrong when I ...

Well I won't speak for Fracne, the laqst time I was in France there was NO cultural diversity to speak of, other than tourists it seems everyone is Parisienne.

As for England, England is within itself a melting pot of diversity, not due to immigration but just all the damn dialects and slangs. From one end to the other you feel like you are meeting foreigners all the time. Everyone speaks differently and acts differently, very entertaining. On a multicultural perspective, as a British Commonwealth East Indian's are VERY common in England but most I've seen are VERY British. They have generally attended British schools and studied in England, they are just slightly better tanned than thier sun starved skinned UK brothers.

It was funny about a year ago, while visiting my mothers stationery store, there was an East Indian man and a Chinese man in the line at the cashier which is very common here and I didn't think twice about it. Then I realized they were friends and were together, this is EXTREMELY strange (for adults anyway, school kids intermingle a little better that adults).

When they got to the counter, the Chinese man had an Cockney accent, living in Vancouver at the time, I was rolling on the floor at the sound of a chinese man with a cockney accent. I asked where they were from and the East Indian man said East London to whi ch i was more amused to hear an East Indian Cockney accent. It is just SO rare to hear these 'immigrants' with such a native UK tongue. They were laughing at it as they had also noticed that Chinese people here speak Chinese, East Indians speak Hindi etc.

As British commonwealth nations, East Indians and Chinese have been living in England for many years and several generations later, they are completely LOCAL and I am the immigrant in comparisson.

There is a massive East Indian and Chinese population in England BUT they are so 'local' you don't see them as immigrants, whereas in Canada, they simply don't assimilate as there is such a huge asian culture and East Indian culture in Vancouver. They have community centers, malls where you can't even begin to read the signs, thier own schools, churches, mosques, universities, we even have the Hong Kong Bank of Canada here.

another thing that's just popped nito my head as I type this is, in English speaking Canada, ALL labels of products in stores MUST have French AND English labelling on them. You just turn the box over, flip the instructions around or read the other side of the can whether you need English or French. This is a LAW.

I have seen Indian/Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese and Korean stores and markets where nothing even has English on it?!? You can go past a mall and not know what a single store sells as the signs are nowhere near something I could decipher. Yet alone in French AND English.

These cultures are allowed to simply retain thier culture without problems, yet the English speaking Canadians must SHARE thier culture with the French Canadians.

Hmmmm?!?

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About France

by voldar In reply to England and France's dive ...

Oz, I have to say that France is a multicultural society. I lived in France, in Lyon and some time in Grenoble. And there you have everything. From chinese to arabs, from african people to indians. Everything! I had best friends from Tunisia, from Algeria, from Congo, from Chile and from Madagascar. It's quite a conglomerate. Remeber, France was a super power some time ago, with a lot of collonies, like UK and Spain.
I live now in Canada, as you already know, and I live in Montreal - french speaking :). And I will never understand why is it so bad to speak english as a frenchman or french as an englishman. In fact I think is great! I am neither one, but I love english and french.
I agree that sometimes, the english spoken by a french guy makes you lough, but it's the same thing when you hear an englishman speaking french. But this is not something to be ashame of, it's a good thing in fact. Speaking someones language means that you really are interested by his culture.

And now, to come back to the topic. I am not from USA, not even Canada, but I have my thoughts about americans. The first thing I like to american people is when they stand up and sing the national song. They do believe and are proud about their country. And that's saying a lot to me. For the rest ... I don't know, but this is what I wanted to say. I'd like that my native "countryman" have this feeling, but ... it's a looong story. For the rest, I'll be back in five minutes .

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Interesting

by Oz_Media In reply to England and France's dive ...

As I said, I don't really know about France but all I've seen in a muticutural perspective are pretty much just tourists. Now this could be due to WHERE I have been in France as being major tourist centers too.

As for French Canadians, i think the problem is that they don't speak FRENCH OR ENGLISH, they have thier own language all together.

If you learn to speak Candian French and visit France, you will be shunned like a traitor, they HATE French Canadians there, you've probably een this yourself. In the same perspective, French Canadians don't care for the Parisienne French dialect (original French). It is like us tellnig the British that WE speak English, we don't though we speak Canadian an English dialect, but not a very pure one. Some parts of Canada and the US, the accents are so strong it's hard to determine if it's even related to English.

Parisienne French see French Canadians as bastards to thier country, they moved away and adopted thier own version of the French language yet still want to be considered French. They then have tried to isolate themselves from the rest of the country while expecting the rest of the country to cater to thier differences, it hasn't gone over well to say the least.

Peolpe in Canada are Canadian NOT British and they don't try to be considered British, even though they share the same base language.

Yet French Canadian's want to be considered French? They aren't though, not even close. I haven't been to Montreal in over a year so things may have changed since I was there, the last visit I made was when the BIG separation push was on, I decided we should let them separate if they choose. They'd loose the port cities, government support etc. We could cig a ditch around Quebec and puch it North through the Hudsons Bay and let em all float off into thier preffered isolated life. Of course we'd let you know so you could jump over in time ;-)

When I was in school, I had NO problem with French Canada, I even learned some of thier version of French, when I was in France and used it, I was stared at like an freak show. The attitude was speak english and keep that dirty French spew of a language out of our face, they really don't even sound similar yet alone the same language.

Tabernac!

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Okay - I'll concede

by maxwell edison In reply to Don't get me wrong when I ...

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...."one of the most". (Because it's probably a matter of definition and/or perception, anyway.)

One of the differences, however, is the absence (in America) of large scale conflict and battle (generally speaking) between the various cultures that existed (or still exists) in many of those other countries/regions, the Czech Republic being only one such an example. One group pitted against another, and so on. (And what I hope doesn't happen in a future America) After all, isn't that one of the things that drew many people to America in the first place - to escape such circumstances?

The avoidance of such an environment is/was, I believe, uniquely American (North American) in that these various cultural groups were, somewhat, assimilated into one, rather than remaining separate, but within a common border. That's a reason I am very reluctant to adapt any hyphenated description of an American. I believe that any and all Americans could be hyphenated, so let's just drop the hyphen. I don't think is serves to bring us closer together as one, but rather separates us by our different cultures.

And no, the early immigrants weren't all English speaking. Sure, many of them were - especially in the 18th century. But even then there were French and Dutch and Spanish. And all throughout the 19th and into the 20th centuries came immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Italy, and more, not to mention the immigrants from China and Japan that populated the west coast. It wasn't until the mid to late 20th century, with a large influx of Spanish speaking immigrants, primarily from Mexico, was a "common language" even questioned.

By the way, I'm extremely uncomfortable contributing to such an off-topic discussion. I'm walking on egg-shells, here, running the risk of offending someone (again), even if it's unintentional. One more such incident, and you will see Maxwell Edison disappear into cyber la-la land.

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Thanks for your input...and regarding your comfort level...

by onbliss In reply to Okay - I'll concede

...well I felt uncomfortable bringing this up to. But, I thought what the heck, we techies have better sense and can judge when a thread is not to insult any human being.

I was just curious.

BTW, I am not going to get offended, I might disagree but that is different.

Thanks for your contribution. I am begining to see some answers.


"The avoidance of such an environment is/was, I believe, uniquely American (North American) in that these various cultural groups were, somewhat, assimilated into one, rather than remaining separate, but within a common border"


I think the point your express here is very remarkable and insightful. Truly it is unique.
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Not offensive at all Max

by Oz_Media In reply to Don't get me wrong when I ...

I know what you mean about walking on eggshells, but I don't think that's realy neccessary. TR doesn't want us to FEAR each other more than not to directly insult or point a finger. A generalization of a given race or country is not offense (or shouldn't be) as it is observation and not personal attack.

Relax, we can all take it on the chin here, just don't poke people in the eye.

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I agree...

by onbliss In reply to Not offensive at all Max

..can not add more value to what you have expressed.

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