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Icebreaker

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Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
« Reply #150 on: January 13, 2014, 20:21 »
Well we agreed from the beginning then, I guess.


I wanted to quote this, by the way, because it sounds like the good ole "you have no right to comment on cycling because you don't cycle yourself."  :D

good for you.

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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #151 on: June 25, 2019, 04:56 »
    It's back!  :P



    A few recent conversations have inspired me to reopen this thread.  Namely, with the announcement that Chris Horner would be joining the crew over at NBC Sports for their coverage of the 2019 Tour de France, there was a suspiciously misinformed press release from the network that stated:
    Quote
    Chris Horner, the only American Grand Tour champion of the last 29 years, will make his Tour de France commentary debut with NBC Sports next month.

    The above quote has generated no shortage of outrage and disdain across social media. But the main reoccurring theme has me genuinely puzzled. It goes pretty much like this:

    Nevermind Armstrong, Landis, or LeMond.

    "Only American Grand Tour champion" - Hesjedal, Quintana, and Carapaz want to have a word with the country that has adopted the label for a whole continent and applies it to its own citizens only, pretending that Canada and Latin America are ... what exactly?
    The bloody arrogance. :angry

    https://twitter.com/NathanPeterHaas/status/1142127081041682432

    Not only has that been the sentiment of many, but the very same point was made at the beginning of this thread.
    Should we call it the United States, since doesn't the term "America" in this sense ignore Canada and everywhere else south of El Paso? ;)


    But this is where I have to jump in.



    Now don't get me wrong, I completely understand the point that Lukas is making in terms of the "American" media having an over-inflated sense of importance towards its own.

    However (and this goes to L'arri's original point as well)...

    What the heck are we supposed to call ourselves?

    It's literally right there, in the name! The United States of America.

    Our flag is known only as "The American flag." Sure, there are some nicknames for it (as others have for their flags, too) but no other official names. And no one on the planet would confuse the reference for any other flag.

    There is no other generally accepted term for the citizens of the United States. "Yanks" or "Yankees" gets tossed around by some, but don't use that term to describe any Southerners. And if you called someone from the west coast a "Yankee," they likely wouldn't even know what you were talking about.

    But that's nothing compared with the more international interpretation of the word "American."

    The terms "South American" and "Central American" certainly get their fair share of use, and there's no confusion as to to which people and countries that might apply to. But "North American" is rarely used to described the collection of people north of Mexico. Mexicans living in Mexico don't refer to themselves as "American," and I can guarantee you that Canadians most certainly do NOT refer to, or like to think of themselves as, "Americans." If anything, most Canadians are proudly not "American." Many of them take a rather dim view towards the neighbors on their southern border.

    Also, "American citizenship" is exactly what immigrants who come to the U.S are seeking if they wish to stay. What else would you call it?

    For that matter, I've never met anyone from Brazil, Perú, Costa Rica or any of their neighboring countries who referred to themselves as "Americans," nor have I ever met anyone from those countries who took issue with how the citizens of the the U.S. most commonly refer to themselves.

    The use of the term, it would seem, is something that only upsets Europeans.
     :D

    When referring to the land mass, the term "North America" is no more controversial than the broader term of "the Americas." Either tends to be a mostly dispassionate description of geography. But throw in that small little "n" and suddenly people from afar are creating something out of nothing.

    The inhabitants of the U.S. get plenty of flak for plenty of things that they deserve.

    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #152 on: June 25, 2019, 05:36 »

    But "North American" is rarely used to described the collection of people north of Mexico. Mexicans living in Mexico don't refer to themselves as "American," and I can guarantee you that Canadians most certainly do NOT refer to, or like to think of themselves as, "Americans." If anything, most Canadians are proudly not "American." Many of them take a rather dim view towards the neighbors on their southern border.


    Will disagree on the comment about "North American" being rarely used - on our side of the 49th at least. Likely because there is no (mis?)appropriation of "American" up in the Great White North, we can happily use that term.

    Or is it perhaps simply that we have a much better knowledge of geography than most of you guys???   :-x :D :-x

    As a related observation, a large proportion of the time, references up here are made to "US" - as in ""last US winner" or the "US cyclist", etc. That said, "American" is, of course, also used.
    I've never heard anyone get upset with the US adopting the term ... with the fawning bullsh*t that some of the media has for all things American (eg., watch CBC coverage of the Olympics and you'll start asking whether that first "C" really means "Canadian"), but not for the use of the term ...

    Absolutely agree with the comment about most Canadians not wanting to be associated with folks from the US though. We take much delight in being nicer, smarter and all around better than our immediate neighbours. :o :o :o

    That said, since I live in Quebec, I take a dim view on being associated with many parts of anglo Canada - all of Ontario for example!  :P - so maybe I'm not the best judge .... ??   ;)

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  • Archieboy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #153 on: June 25, 2019, 07:25 »
    [quote

    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
    [/quote]

    Drummer, we call you Septics in rhyming slang.

    Septic tanks = Septics = Yanks

    As in "the septics won the football yesterday..."
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #154 on: June 25, 2019, 09:23 »
    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
    Mexico - Mexicans
    Germany - Germans
    Italy - Italians

    Logically, the inhabitants of the US(A) are USians - pronounced you-zee-ans. :D
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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #155 on: June 25, 2019, 11:45 »
    Just call yourselves Bubba.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #156 on: June 25, 2019, 13:09 »
    Just call yourselves Bubba.



    Seriously though, it's been quite interesting reading back through the entirety of this thread, especially given the political shifts and developments since this topic was started in 2014.
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  • « Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 13:35 by Drummer Boy »

    Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #157 on: June 25, 2019, 16:50 »
    What the heck are we supposed to call ourselves?
     

    There are several terms that have been proposed, mainly several decades ago, or even in the early post-independence era:
    Usonian
    United-Statesian
    Columbian
     Columbard
     Fredonian
    Frede
    Unisian
    United Statesian
    Colonican
    Appalacian
    Usian
    Washingtonian
    Usonian
    Uessian
    U-S-ian
    Uesican
    United Stater.


    But language is dependent on popular uptake, and that has not been achieved by any of these.

    I would tend to support the right of a people to choose their name: I object to the attempt of UK press, media and public to often try to force "Republic of Ireland" or "Eire" upon the country whose name is "Ireland", and although I have never knowingly met anyone from Skopje, I would be perfectly happy for them to introduce themselves as Macedonian without any geographical qualifiers or allusions to a dissolved state.   

    And yet it is the perceived arrogance that some Greek influences have about a name applicable beyond the borders of the nation that is the issue in these comments about the adjectival references to the USA (not the only United States in the world either: cf Mexico and, I think but don't have time to check right now, Malaysia).  Of course, the perceived arrogance of the country's political activities and of some of its citizens abroad is also an issue in the response to the mode of self reference.  We never say the same of the Netherlands, although "the Low Countries" is generally taken to be a term that encompasses three nation-states, and the northeastern corner of India does not seem to consider it's identity or territory threatened by Bangladesh's name.

    Even in languages that do have a simple demonym for Trumponian (and I wouldn't put it past him to propose that as a solution), the less specific term seems to have greater traction in colloquial use.  Americain(e), Amerikaner and american@ are more used in French, German and Italian than  étatsunien(ne), US_Amerikaner or statunitense.  And in South America, norteamerican@ is used, presumably with Mexico considered part of América Central, and Canada ignored.

    Some country names are not easily turned into adjectives, and yet while we have no problem using New Zealand as both noun and adjective, there is a marked reluctance to do so with United States and United Kingdom, resulting in, respectively, the current debate and an adjective relevant to 3 constituent countries being applied to all 4.


    And then Denmark and Netherlands both apply the same name to both a constituent country and a conglomeration of countries.
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  • « Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 17:02 by Armchair Cyclist »

    Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #158 on: June 25, 2019, 21:13 »
    I think even Noam Chomsky, who can't be considered a US chauvinist, admitted that the demonym "American" to refer to the people of the USA is not indicative of the US will to represent the whole American continent and to disregard other nations but only comes from the linguistic difficulty to coin a demonym out of "United States".

    As Armchair said, the word "états-unien" exists in French, even in the Larousse dictionary, but is not often used. I've only heard it used by people who hate the USA and who wish to real distinguish between the USA and the rest of the continent. As a native speaker of French, I also feel it's ugly and artificial. I would always used the word "Américain". Usually the context would clearly point out if you are strictly referring to the USA or to the whole continent.

    However in order to settle it, why wouldn't we simply use the word "Pan-American" to refer to the whole continent? The word also exists in French and I guess in many other languages. Then the demonym "American" can still be used of the people in the USA...


    By the way, the same debate could've occurred with the United Arab Emirates. Obviously, they are not the only ones who could call themselves Arabs but fortunately, the demonym "Emirati" (existing in English, French, Spanish and other languages, I guess) works perfectly.
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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #159 on: June 25, 2019, 22:03 »
    in German "US-Amerikaner" is a commonly used term for inhabitants of the USA.
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    Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #160 on: June 26, 2019, 02:05 »
    There are several terms that have been proposed, mainly several decades ago, or even in the early post-independence era:

    I did not know any of that. Honestly, I really hadn't explored the topic beyond my own experiences and observations, and the contributions of others to this thread.

    I wasn't even certain if you were serious or not at first  :P, but clearly you are historically accurate (as I have since learned).

    Interesting stuff!  :cool
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  • Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #161 on: June 26, 2019, 08:47 »
    but clearly you are historically accurate

    As much so as Wikipedia allows: I find this sort of thing interesting, but evidently not enough so to have researched it widely.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #162 on: June 26, 2019, 13:16 »
    As much so as Wikipedia allows: I find this sort of thing interesting, but evidently not enough so to have researched it widely.

    What I find equally interesting is that we were never taught any of this in school. I remember one high school history class in particular where we spent all of about ten days on the Revolutionary War, and a good six weeks on the Salem Witch Trials.

     :S

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  • Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #163 on: June 27, 2019, 21:53 »
    By the way, I just found out an article about the most spoken languages as native languages in the USA.

    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-spoken-languages-in-america.html

    First of all I'm sad to see that no Amerindian languages make it in the top25.

    Second I'm glad to see that French, coupled with French Creole, was still the 4th most spoken language. I've really been fascinated by Cajun history for quite a while now and know that they've been oppressed by almost a century of coercitive cultural assimilation. By the late 20th century, few Cajuns would still speak French as main language. Yet Louisiana reopened French school and there was a great French "immersion programme" for learning French in the nineties but it seems that those who would learn French were not historical Cajuns.

    I don't know if anyone of you know more about that.

    1   English   231,122,908
    2   Spanish   37,458,470
    3   Chinese (incl. Cantonese, Mandarin, other Chinese languages)   2,896,766
    4   French and French Creole   2,047,467
    5   Tagalog   1,613,346
    6   Vietnamese   1,399,936
    7   Korean   1,117,343
    8   German   1,063,773
    9   Arabic   924,374
    10   Russian   879,434
    11   Italian   708,966
    12   Portuguese   693,469
    13   Hindi   643,337
    14   Polish   580,153
    15   Japanese   449,475
    16   Urdu   397,502
    17   Persian   391,113
    18   Gujarati   373,253
    19   Greek   304,932
    20   Bengali   257,740
    21   Panjabi   253,740
    22   Telugu   247,760
    23   Armenian   237,840
    24   Hmong   214,943
    25   Hebrew   212,747

    This page was last updated on June 12, 2018.
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #164 on: June 28, 2019, 02:20 »
    By the way, I just found out an article about the most spoken languages as native languages in the USA.

    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-spoken-languages-in-america.html

    I don't know if anyone of you know more about that.

    1   English   231,122,908

    Having spent a ton of time working with Americans inside and outside of the US, I've got to say that I'm surprised that English scores as highly on that list as it does ...

      :P
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  • Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #165 on: August 17, 2019, 10:49 »
    Recently got deep into the story of the French-Canadian migrants to New England (about 900 000 between 1840 and 1930). Jack Kerouac is from that root (born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac).

    I read in an article by François Gauthier (Revue des Deux-Mondes, July-August 2010, p.51-52) that a 2000 census revealed that 1.5 milion New Englander claimed to have French Canadian roots, 250 000 of them spoke French at home and in Maine alone 5.3% of the population spoke French on a daily basis (compared to 4.6% in Louisiana).

    Is it true that there are still speakers of French in New England as a result of the mass migration in the late 19th century?  :o
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #166 on: August 17, 2019, 12:23 »
    Is it true that there are still speakers of French in New England as a result of the mass migration in the late 19th century?  :o

    Honestly, having grown up in New England, this is the first I've ever heard of this. My best guess is that this was only ever true for Maine, given its northerly location.

    It might also help to explain the Maine accent, which, if thick enough, can be nearly unintelligible to the rest of us (although the less severe versions tend to sound more like a variation on the Boston accent, which wouldn't seem to imply any French influence).

    Even as a young kid, my family often went north for winter skiing—Vermont and New Hampshire being the most popular destinations. But I never encountered anyone speaking French during those trips.

    However, we would also make annual trips just north of the Vermont border to Mont Sutton, Quebec, where French was obviously a dominant language. But I never noticed any of that influence below the border of Canada and the States.

    Again, I suspect that rural and costal Maine may have its own history of language and customs, but I've never been aware of it spreading beyond there.
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  • Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #167 on: August 17, 2019, 18:26 »
    Thanks Drummer. It really would've surprised me, to be honest and I'm inclined to trust you. The last French-speaking newspaper to shut down was "Le travailleur" in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1978, no more readers.

    Vermont was the main destination for the French Canadians between 1840 and 1860. Since 1860, it was rather Massachusetts (Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts).

    Maine, however, has a longer history because historical Acadia stretched partly to present-day Maine. So perhaps that can be right.
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #168 on: August 30, 2019, 03:53 »
    Was in VT over the past few days and ended up with a table of "Franco-Americans" sitting beside us one night at dinner.

    After reading the last couple of posts on this thread, I was busting to go and ask them a bunch of questions - but never got the chance.

    They talked about living in Westport - which, as far as I can tell is in CT? (Please, someone who has a better handle on New England geography, correct me if I am wrong.)

    The grandfather was the primary one who spoke French - but most of their conversation was in English. I think that comments about waning use are pretty valid - as he was explaining some pretty basic grammar to his pre-teen grandson (who, to be fair, could hold an OK conversation in French).

    Accent was definitely not the same as standard Quebec. If anything, I'd say that it was relatively close to what you get around Quebec City (before you get too rural out there).

    As I say, unfortunately I didn't get to go talk to them (in no small part because the grandfather was asking the daughter about Quebec - and she clearly hadn't been there from her answers!) ... but it was really interesting to hear them on the back of this thread ...

      :) :)
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #169 on: August 30, 2019, 04:13 »
    They talked about living in Westport - which, as far as I can tell is in CT?

    Yes, it's a very affluent community near the shore, and one of the places I sometimes take the train from if heading into New York City. It's a small station, but parking is usually available, and I would often rather take the shorter train ride from there as opposed to the longer, but far more popular, ride from New Haven, where one of the main hubs is.

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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #170 on: August 30, 2019, 15:36 »
    Yes, it's a very affluent community near the shore

    Thanks for confirming the geography for me.

    And, yeah ... I got that impression of affluence from the way that they were talking about the price of holiday rentals that they were looking at - and the idea of leaving the owner a $1000 "voluntary donation" on top of their charges ...

     ;)
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  • M Gee

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #171 on: August 30, 2019, 21:14 »
    . . .

    First of all I'm sad to see that no Amerindian languages make it in the top25.

    Second I'm glad to see that French, coupled with French Creole, was still the 4th most spoken language. . . . By the late 20th century, few Cajuns would still speak French as main language. Yet Louisiana reopened French school and there was a great French "immersion programme" for learning French in the nineties but it seems that those who would learn French were not historical Cajuns.

     . . .

    Up until the '80's, French speakers were regarded by most as a lesser form of human being, and the cultural pressure was to speak English and assimilate. Prior to the 1950's, geographical isolation helped maintain the old ways. After that, not so much. In the 80's and 90's, there was a trend to maintain the old ways, but a lot had already been lost forever. It was the same up in Quebec, although the French speaking population didn't die back so hard as Louisiana.

    The native American languages were, and are, lucky to survive at all. In the early 20th century there was a concerted drive by government agencies to wipe them out. Many haven't survived. Some have been resurrected from what little was known and recorded, but I have to wonder how well such a resurrection could work. A very few: e.g. Navajo, Hopi, have surviving culture, but even those are under threat of extinction, as the young are still caught up by assimilation. There's no work on the res, you know. So they don't stay.

    Recently got deep into the story of the French-Canadian migrants to New England (about 900 000 between 1840 and 1930). Jack Kerouac is from that root (born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac).

    I read in an article by François Gauthier (Revue des Deux-Mondes, July-August 2010, p.51-52) that a 2000 census revealed that 1.5 milion New Englander claimed to have French Canadian roots, 250 000 of them spoke French at home and in Maine alone 5.3% of the population spoke French on a daily basis (compared to 4.6% in Louisiana).

    Is it true that there are still speakers of French in New England as a result of the mass migration in the late 19th century?  :o

    I can easily believe the numbers who claim French-Canadian roots. I find it VERY hard to believe the latter two claims: that 250,000 still spoke French at home, and 5.3% of Mainers speak French daily.

    I COULD believe you'd find a few families who still spoke French up by Lac Megantic, on the American side of the border.

    Honestly, having grown up in New England, this is the first I've ever heard of this. My best guess is that this was only ever true for Maine, given its northerly location.

    It might also help to explain the Maine accent, which, if thick enough, can be nearly unintelligible to the rest of us (although the less severe versions tend to sound more like a variation on the Boston accent, which wouldn't seem to imply any French influence).

    Even as a young kid, my family often went north for winter skiing—Vermont and New Hampshire being the most popular destinations. But I never encountered anyone speaking French during those trips.

    However, we would also make annual trips just north of the Vermont border to Mont Sutton, Quebec, where French was obviously a dominant language. But I never noticed any of that influence below the border of Canada and the States.

    Again, I suspect that rural and costal Maine may have its own history of language and customs, but I've never been aware of it spreading beyond there.

    Also my experience. In my high school days we spent some summer days up by Lac Megantic, as my father had business in the area. I've never seen any cultural French-Canadian remnants in Maine, although I could easily believe you might find some close to the border. Not many people up there though.

    My grandfather talked of hiring French-Canadians to cut wood in the northwoods of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. He didn't like them as workers though - he said they would work until you paid them - and then it was party time. So you didn't dare pay them on Wednesday, as they wouldn't show up for work on Thursday.
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    Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #172 on: August 31, 2019, 11:52 »
    Up until the '80's, French speakers were regarded by most as a lesser form of human being, and the cultural pressure was to speak English and assimilate. Prior to the 1950's, geographical isolation helped maintain the old ways. After that, not so much. In the 80's and 90's, there was a trend to maintain the old ways, but a lot had already been lost forever. It was the same up in Quebec, although the French speaking population didn't die back so hard as Louisiana.

    The native American languages were, and are, lucky to survive at all. In the early 20th century there was a concerted drive by government agencies to wipe them out. Many haven't survived. Some have been resurrected from what little was known and recorded, but I have to wonder how well such a resurrection could work. A very few: e.g. Navajo, Hopi, have surviving culture, but even those are under threat of extinction, as the young are still caught up by assimilation. There's no work on the res, you know. So they don't stay. 

    Huh I don't understand. French is very much alive in Quebec and still the main language ! ???

    I can see that the French speakers in Louisiana were looked down as sub-humans. You would notice that in plenty of films. I recently watched Walter Hill's "Southern Comfort". I wasn't born when it was released but I think it was quite a success back then and really the Cajuns in the film were seen as savage beasts, a part of a hostile environment  (it was a survival film around in the Louisianian bayous). It really struck me. I can still remember the final scene with a beautiful cajun song mixed with a horribly barbarious pork slaughter. However I was glad that the recent Magnificent Seven remake included a cajun character played by Ethan Hawke.

    I feel strongly about Louisianian French because my uncle was a teacher (primary shcool) for two years in Houma, Louisiana (in the Cajun heartland) back in the late seventies, I think. It seems that a lot of Belgian teachers went to teach in Louisiana at that time. However he told me how he was forced to teach a lot in English while he was supposed to strictly teach in French. A lot was already lost. Even in his host family, only the grandfather would be fluent in French. My own parents who went there as well woud also tell me how obesity already was a major problem among the Cajuns.

    About the Amerindian languages I would've thought that in recent years there would at least be some concern to keep some of them, the most renown ones (Navajo, Sioux, etc.), as the American expansion to the West - "Manifest Destiny" or "American Frontier" (whatever you call it) - is mainly seen negatively by the younger generations. I do know that the reserves were developped on barren lands and that alcohol is nowadays a major problem in the reserves (or has it been overstated?)
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  • M Gee

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #173 on: September 05, 2019, 03:12 »
    Huh I don't understand. French is very much alive in Quebec and still the main language ! ???

    I can see that the French speakers in Louisiana were looked down as sub-humans. You would notice that in plenty of films. I recently watched Walter Hill's "Southern Comfort". I wasn't born when it was released but I think it was quite a success back then and really the Cajuns in the film were seen as savage beasts, a part of a hostile environment  (it was a survival film around in the Louisianian bayous). It really struck me. I can still remember the final scene with a beautiful cajun song mixed with a horribly barbarious pork slaughter. However I was glad that the recent Magnificent Seven remake included a cajun character played by Ethan Hawke.

    I feel strongly about Louisianian French because my uncle was a teacher (primary shcool) for two years in Houma, Louisiana (in the Cajun heartland) back in the late seventies, I think. It seems that a lot of Belgian teachers went to teach in Louisiana at that time. However he told me how he was forced to teach a lot in English while he was supposed to strictly teach in French. A lot was already lost. Even in his host family, only the grandfather would be fluent in French. My own parents who went there as well woud also tell me how obesity already was a major problem among the Cajuns.

    About the Amerindian languages I would've thought that in recent years there would at least be some concern to keep some of them, the most renown ones (Navajo, Sioux, etc.), as the American expansion to the West - "Manifest Destiny" or "American Frontier" (whatever you call it) - is mainly seen negatively by the younger generations. I do know that the reserves were developped on barren lands and that alcohol is nowadays a major problem in the reserves (or has it been overstated?)
    Wow, dude! So many questions! :D Cool, tho.

    First, Quebec. French is still 'alive and well' there because there was a VERY strong political movement, by the French-Canadians, to reclaim French back in the 70's-80's and on. It was well on its way to dying. I don't want to exaggerate, though, as there WERE young folk in some town who were learning French as they grew up - I met a few. But more weren't learning it, and in some cases it was headed to something like the "Spanglish" you get in LA or NYC. I guess it would have been "Franglish", eh? So, somewhere along in there, folks had a political movement to get French in the schools, and in public signage. It was a pretty abrasive time, politically. But they got it done, and folks are living with it, AND they revived French as a language in Canada.

    Southern Comfort, the movie. I remember that one! "Barbarous" pork slaughter? That's an odd one coming from a guy who likes to comment on cycling farmers! It was definitely a pig slaughter, and that is never for the squeamish.

    I loved hearing about your uncle's experience in Louisiana. Pretty much spot-on with what I've observed. There was a political movement, just like Quebec, to revive and strengthen French back then. It wasn't as strong, nor as successful, as the Quebecois.

    Prejudice against cajuns was not something you'd get much feel for from the movies. It WAS a daily reality on the ground, in real life, in the schools, in the courts, etc. Not as bad as the prejudice against blacks, but real. After the Quebecois had some success, and with the rise in popularity of zydeco, cajun and Creole become something of a fashionable thing. That reversed some of the prejudice - the lightweight stuff. I don't know about the deeper prejudices down in Louisiana, but I am inclined to believe that prejudice is a thing of the past. Louisiana and New Orleans have made too much money, and created too many jobs because of "cajun" and "Creole" - folks don't ignore that.

    I met and chatted with Justin Wilson back in the 80's. His normal accent was typical Louisiana southern. He could put it on, tho!

    I've been to Houma a few times, btw. Mostly just driving through when I lived in Memphis.

    Amerindian, First Nations: I hear of efforts to relearn the old languages, songs, and stories, and I hear they have some success. Alcohol has been a major problem for them for way longer than I've been on this earth. Once they got put on the reservations, work was an issue - there wasn't any. This problem got way worse in the early 20th century, as mechanization took over agriculture. What little value something like Navajo wool had went down. Jobs, or lack of, are a huge problem. This has changed, in some ways, and for some tribes, in the past 30 years. Gambling casinos have provided income for some. One tribe - the Pima - outside of Phoenix - have benefited as their reservation got surrounded by the growth of Phoenix. They used to have some income from growing cotton - but it wasn't a good income, and it didn't impact a lot of the tribal members. I'm told that they are doing much better now - but whether from gambling income or something else - I don't know.

    The Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo, and Sioux languages, when I was last in the southwest, were surviving, but it was a struggle. Young people need work. To get work they have to leave the "Rez" (reservation). And to get work, they need to speak English. And schools are taught in English. So they never learn their mother-tongue. Or ignore it when they could. The effort required to find and keep work is too great - there isn't energy to devote to keeping a culture alive. There ARE individuals who try. I haven't been down there in a couple of decades, so I don't know with what success.
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  • Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #174 on: September 24, 2019, 11:39 »
    Sorry, I've been too busy lately to answer but it interests me so much that I had to get back to the discussion.


    First, Quebec. French is still 'alive and well' there because there was a VERY strong political movement, by the French-Canadians, to reclaim French back in the 70's-80's and on. It was well on its way to dying. I don't want to exaggerate, though, as there WERE young folk in some town who were learning French as they grew up - I met a few. But more weren't learning it, and in some cases it was headed to something like the "Spanglish" you get in LA or NYC. I guess it would have been "Franglish", eh? So, somewhere along in there, folks had a political movement to get French in the schools, and in public signage. It was a pretty abrasive time, politically. But they got it done, and folks are living with it, AND they revived French as a language in Canada.

    I guess you are referring to the Bill 101. I don't want to underrate the influence of it in the preservation of the French language in French Canada but was the situation initially comparable to Louisiana? The French wiki page for the Bill 101 says that it started from a crisis in the late sixties ("Crise de Saint-Léonard") when Italian migrants wished to send their children to English schools. But I mean what part of the population spoke French in Quebec in the sixties? It's very much possible that a greater part of the population would've spoken English if it weren't for Bill 101 but my opinion is that French had been preserved because the French people had densely in the Saint-Lawrence valley in a compact way in the 17th century (they were numerous on a relatively small area, while when they spread across the rest of the continent they would be in tiny minority) and because the rough climate discouraged mass British migrations after the 1760 conquest. I mean francophones in Quebec already had political power (which made Bill 101 possible) and had mainstream media (especially TV since at least the fifties, which has always been insrumental in spreading a language everywhere). Cajuns had none of that in Louisiana in the sixties. I think they had to start from a much lower level. That's why the nationalist movement could prevail in the Quebec province and not in Louisiana. Anyone correct me if I miss a point!



    Southern Comfort, the movie. I remember that one! "Barbarous" pork slaughter? That's an odd one coming from a guy who likes to comment on cycling farmers! It was definitely a pig slaughter, and that is never for the squeamish.

    Prejudice against cajuns was not something you'd get much feel for from the movies. It WAS a daily reality on the ground, in real life, in the schools, in the courts, etc. Not as bad as the prejudice against blacks, but real.

    Squeamishness is not the point here. In the film Cajuns are definitely the vilains, right from the start. So the pig slaughter scene (sorry I was a bit mixed up: pigs, pork, ...) by the end of the film was only there to highlight their savageness. The film would've been the same without that scene. It's true that my love for the countryside and agrarian areas is contradicting my love for animals and vegetarian tendencies but even though I know that 99.9% of farm animals end up in slaughterhouses, there's a difference between knowing it and showing it on screen. Obviously that would have effects on the viewers' opinion.

    But I sure agree that prejudices against Cajuns were in daily life and not just in cinema. I've heard a lot of testimonies about it: children beaten at school for speaking French schoolyards for example.

    After the Quebecois had some success, and with the rise in popularity of zydeco, cajun and Creole become something of a fashionable thing. That reversed some of the prejudice - the lightweight stuff. I don't know about the deeper prejudices down in Louisiana, but I am inclined to believe that prejudice is a thing of the past. Louisiana and New Orleans have made too much money, and created too many jobs because of "cajun" and "Creole" - folks don't ignore that.

    So pop culture still had an influence. :D

    I really love zydeco and have always been interested in the way it influenced famous rockers or country music singers: Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, CCR or Neil Young (who long played with Cajun fiddle player Rufus Thibodeaux)...

    By the way something one topic has puzzled me in recent years: the "Cajun Queen" myth, which we can hear about in the CCR hit "Born on the Bayou" ("Roll on with some Cajun Queen") It seems to me that it has nothing to do with Cajuns but rather with African culture and voodoo (much present in Louisiana, especially around New Orleans). If anyone of you knows more about that I'd be grateful!   

     

    Amerindian, First Nations: I hear of efforts to relearn the old languages, songs, and stories, and I hear they have some success. Alcohol has been a major problem for them for way longer than I've been on this earth. Once they got put on the reservations, work was an issue - there wasn't any. This problem got way worse in the early 20th century, as mechanization took over agriculture. What little value something like Navajo wool had went down. Jobs, or lack of, are a huge problem. This has changed, in some ways, and for some tribes, in the past 30 years. Gambling casinos have provided income for some. One tribe - the Pima - outside of Phoenix - have benefited as their reservation got surrounded by the growth of Phoenix. They used to have some income from growing cotton - but it wasn't a good income, and it didn't impact a lot of the tribal members. I'm told that they are doing much better now - but whether from gambling income or something else - I don't know.

    The Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo, and Sioux languages, when I was last in the southwest, were surviving, but it was a struggle. Young people need work. To get work they have to leave the "Rez" (reservation). And to get work, they need to speak English. And schools are taught in English. So they never learn their mother-tongue. Or ignore it when they could. The effort required to find and keep work is too great - there isn't energy to devote to keeping a culture alive. There ARE individuals who try. I haven't been down there in a couple of decades, so I don't know with what success.

    Thank you for this. No additional comment because I'm clueless about that issue, just thank you.  :cool
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  • M Gee

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #175 on: September 28, 2019, 16:17 »
    . . .
    I guess you are referring to the Bill 101. I don't want to underrate the influence of it in the preservation of the French language in French Canada but was the situation initially comparable to Louisiana?
     . . .Cajuns had none of that in Louisiana in the sixties. I think they had to start from a much lower level. That's why the nationalist movement could prevail in the Quebec province and not in Louisiana. Anyone correct me if I miss a point!  . . .

    Precisely so. However, there were parallels, in that both were approaching assimilation (to English). The fight over Bill 101 was long, protracted, and rancorous. We heard the echoes over here in the US! I have not much more than my personal experience to go on, but! In Quebec, I occasionally heard people speak French, but it was rare. I think I recall meeting an old person who didn't speak English. I never heard a clerk in a store speaking French to a customer. I contrast that with Wales, where you can often walk into a small town store, and hear storekeeper and customers speaking Welsh. In Louisiana, I only HEARD about people speaking French - and never met anyone conversing in French. I agree that the Louisiana Acadian culture "had to start from a much lower level". I also think the "English-only" crowd is stronger in the US.
    It seemed to me, though, that the push to include French as an official language was a reaction to its near assimilation to the English culture.

    Quote
    . . .Squeamishness is not the point here. In the film Cajuns are definitely the vilains, right from the start. So the pig slaughter scene (sorry I was a bit mixed up: pigs, pork, ...) by the end of the film was only there to highlight their savageness. The film would've been the same without that scene. It's true that my love for the countryside and agrarian areas is contradicting my love for animals and vegetarian tendencies but even though I know that 99.9% of farm animals end up in slaughterhouses, there's a difference between knowing it and showing it on screen. Obviously that would have effects on the viewers' opinion.
    Aha. So the barbarity was including the graphic violence of a typical farmyard event, albeit perhaps the MOST violent regular farmyard event. About the only animal killed for meat more often would be the chickens, I suppose. I'll go with that - it certainly flavored the film action.

    Oh, and a note on American English usage - your use of "pork slaughter" was acceptable usage. Technically, I can't explain why, as I don't understand why. But I suppose it's a bit like, on seeing a yard full of pigs, declaiming "Look at all that pork!" No American would find anything unusual in that usage.

    Quote
    . . .But I sure agree that prejudices against Cajuns were in daily life and not just in cinema. I've heard a lot of testimonies about it: children beaten at school for speaking French schoolyards for example.

    So pop culture still had an influence. :D

    I really love zydeco and have always been interested in the way it influenced famous rockers or country music singers: Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, CCR or Neil Young (who long played with Cajun fiddle player Rufus Thibodeaux)...

    By the way something one topic has puzzled me in recent years: the "Cajun Queen" myth, which we can hear about in the CCR hit "Born on the Bayou" ("Roll on with some Cajun Queen") It seems to me that it has nothing to do with Cajuns but rather with African culture and voodoo (much present in Louisiana, especially around New Orleans). If anyone of you knows more about that I'd be grateful!   
    Cajun is/was the appellation for the mixed race population of Louisiana, and typically rural and/or lower class. Creoles were the city French, the high-falutin' cream of the crop class. Those definitions were loose, and have even changed somewhat over my lifetime. Today, Creole seems to refer more to the mixed-race parentage, and Cajun more to the Acadian ancestry, but both can be mixed-race. But all this is just to say that African heritage, and voodoo, was a significant factor in the evolution of that culture.
     
    Quote
    Thank you for this. No additional comment because I'm clueless about that issue, just thank you.  :cool
    You are being unnecessarily humble, you are hardly clueless!
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #176 on: September 28, 2019, 23:35 »
    By the way something one topic has puzzled me in recent years: the "Cajun Queen" myth, which we can hear about in the CCR hit "Born on the Bayou" ("Roll on with some Cajun Queen") It seems to me that it has nothing to do with Cajuns but rather with African culture and voodoo (much present in Louisiana, especially around New Orleans). If anyone of you knows more about that I'd be grateful!

    [I believe it's Rollin' as in a contraction of "rolling."]

    I'm pretty sure "Rollin' with a Cajun Queen" is just a reference to a romantic encounter with a beautiful Cajun woman.

    The whole premise for the song was a fabrication though, as John Fogerty had no such upbringing, nor was he raised anywhere near a Bayou.
     :P
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  • « Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 00:52 by Drummer Boy »

    Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #177 on: September 29, 2019, 00:44 »
    First, Quebec. French is still 'alive and well' there because there was a VERY strong political movement, by the French-Canadians, to reclaim French back in the 70's-80's and on. It was well on its way to dying.

    What? :slow

    My own, annual, experiences in Quebec were mostly in  the early to mid 1970s, and French was very much the dominant language. In fact, as a very young kid, native adults would usually address me in French before I would clumsily inform them that I only spoke English. But the fact that they expected someone of my age to be fluent in French tells me that it was hardly something relegated to an older generation.

    Also, it was at that time of life where most of my skiing instruction came from, and all the instructors, as well the other staff on the slopes (First Aid, Ski Patrol, maintenance, etc) were primary French speakers, and they were mostly in their late 20s to 30s. Come to think of it, at least half the kids in my group classes spoke French as their first language, and we were all very young.

    I returned there in 1981 for the Drum Corps World Championships that were held in Montreal, and again, French was the dominant language that we encountered on the streets as well as from police, etc.

    So I'm a bit mystified by your characterization of French being "rare" within the borders of Quebec, at any time. Unless I'm misunderstanding something here.

    Even in Toronto, Ontario, where I would go nearly every summer because of relatives there, I'd always remember the neighbors who would ONLY speak French, which was made more obvious because of the many raucous gatherings they would have with their French-speaking friends.

    Which only just now jostles another childhood memory (only tangentially related, but I may as well share...).

    When I was a young kid in central Connecticut, there was a school yard across the street from our house with multiple baseball fields. Once a week during the summers, there would be a gathering of French Canadian softball teams. Looking back on that now, I've really no idea where they came from, as neither my town, or the surrounding ones, had any noticeable French Canadian population. None, in fact, that I can recall.

    Because of my exposure to that culture in Canada, any French Canadians would've been quite conspicuous to me. But I only ever saw, and heard them, during those summer softball tournaments. It's most curious to me now.


    All of which brings up yet another childhood memory... :D
    I've only just remembered that good friend of mine from high school, who lived just up the road from me—his parents were French Canadian. So I may have just contradicted my previous statement. However, his parents were very quiet, and rarely spoke in front of me, which is why I had probably forgotten about that. But they would sometimes speak in French to their son, and he understood them perfectly, although I don't have any recollection of him speaking French in front of me. So maybe they intentionally kept their roots, and their language to themselves. Not that it would've mattered one bit in the neighborhood where I grew up, but who knows what other experiences they may have had in other places, or at other times.

    Now that I dig even deeper to the memory banks... :lol
    When I was growing up, French Canadians were known stereotypically as being "sheet rockers" because it wouldn't be unusual to finding them doing just that: building houses, etc. If anything, they had good reputation for being reliable in that field of work. It was a complimentary view, if anything. But it's been many years since I've heard that reference. So maybe that's who made up those softball teams after all! Where they all went to is beyond me, because I can't remember hearing any French around town (European or Canadian) in many years, except for a short-lived pastry shop here and there (and they definitely weren't Canadian).


    Interesting flashback all this has sparked within me.

    Thanks for the memories!  :cool
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #178 on: September 29, 2019, 07:16 »


    So I'm a bit mystified by your characterization of French being "rare" within the borders of Quebec, at any time. Unless I'm misunderstanding something here.

    As a Quebec resident, I can unequivocally say that you aren't misunderstanding anything.

    French in Quebec is not and never has truly been under threat. It is still the majority language by a country mile - without the need for Bill 101.

    Francophones are by far the largest linguistic group - followed by allophones (ie., non-franco and non-anglo native language speakers).

    The biggest "threat" to French since WW2 was immigration - which saw a proportionally larger influx of non-French (and non-English) speakers than the natural population growth.

    Despite being written up as a language law - and obviously, that is the focus of it - Bill 101 is much more a law that is about culture than language. (And I will happily argue with anyone that, while language is an element of culture, it does not define it. We only need to look at this thread ... or my own experience with how, despite being a native anglo, I am much more comfortable in Quebec than its anglo neighbour, On-terrible.)

    Many - if not most - of its architects and biggest supporters talk about the impact that the law has had on integration of various peoples - most especially of immigrants.

    I would even venture to say that, while, as provincial legislation, its impact is restricted to within our borders, its focus is/was actually directed at the ROC who have traditionally (and, even more so in the 1970's) taken pot shots at Quebec. I have lost track of the number of times during my last four years of working in AB and ON that I heard how terrible QC is and, most relevantly for this topic, how we should be making everyone there speak English and why do "they" expect to get served in French when "they" come west ... (usually from people who had never actually visited QC or, weirdly, who love Montreal, but seem oblivious to the city's geography ...)

    Anyhow, I am getting off topic ...

    So, to finish on the original topic ... no, French has never been under threat in Quebec in the lifetime of any of the members of this forum.


    (Just imagine that there is a Quebec flag here ... we don't have one in the list of icons ...   :)   )
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #179 on: September 29, 2019, 07:57 »
    (Just imagine that there is a Quebec flag here ... we don't have one in the list of icons ...   :)   )
    Is *mq a good enough approximation? ;)
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