Subscribe to Blog via Email
Europeans dislike it when Americans say ‘I am Irish’ or ‘I am Italian’. What if Australians and Canadians said that? Would Europeans still dislike it? Or do they dislike it only when Americans said that?
Answer deleted by Quora for violating Be Nice Be Respectful policy.
I won’t appeal, but it needed saying.
Dear denizens of the Old Continent (Γηραιά Ήπειρος, as Greeks like to call it):
You discard your poor huddled masses, and you repay their passed down love and homesickness with sneering, now that you’ve grown fat. You decline to countenance that a country built on diasporas may avoid using hyphens in their descriptions of themselves, when almost everyone in that country has a hyphen: no, the European construct of civic identity is the only true construct, and Americans are Nazis, and Plastic Paddies, and profanation of the holy comestible spaghetti with impious meatballs, and blah blah de fucking blah look at us we’re so much better than you, we have a cultural identity, and you only have McDonalds, no wonder you go magpieing our culture.
Yeah, bite me.
You don’t deserve an answer as gentle and patient as
But then, I don’t know that Quora in general deserves the gentleness and patience of Edward Conway…
Australians, for what it’s worth, do say “I am Greek” or “I am Italian” or “I am Chinese”. I know that, because I DO say that. Other posters say they don’t: that’s simply not been my experience. You may not get as many Irish Australians saying “I am Irish”, because the Irish have been better integrated into the construct of the dominant Australian ethnicity. (Irish Australians are unhappy about it, but the official name is “Anglo-Celtic”.) But you don’t get zero of that, either.
It is also true that the melting pot has been less proactive here than in the US in the past couple of generations, as a matter of both official policy and general culture, so it’s unexceptional for someone to say familiarly “he’s Somali” or “she’s Vietnamese”; and (because mass migration is a generation newer) it’s expected that the people who say that still have some substantial ties of practice as well as identification to their ancestral cultures.
What do Europeans make of it?
Well, I’m clearly not a denizen of the Old Continent, so I can only respond from observation.
Italian Australians, I’m guessing, are a bit more visibly Italian than Italian Americans, but I don’t have much reason to think they’d be dealt with that much more benignly. Campanalismo certainly sees to that anyway. (“You’re one of those… Southern people, aren’t you…”) But that’s inference, not observation.
Greece Greeks in my experience don’t actually have a problem calling Greek-Australians Greeks in familiar practice, because those Greek-Australians do at least speak some Greek. Popular usage vacillates between calling someone like Jen Psaki, who’s fourth generation, “Greek” and “Greek American”.
But Greek-Americans are still regarded as not as Greek as Greece Greeks: there is some contempt about them no longer speaking the language and holding on to antiquated notions. And that othering does extend even to myself, me being 1 1/2-generation Greek-Australian (2nd generation, but extensive exposure to Greece). All hyphenated Greeks, whether Georgian, Australian, American, or French—are omoɣenis: it’s literally the same word as “homogenous”, but it actually means “of the same stock”. (So much for the confident assertions here that Europeans don’t do ethnic nationalism any more. Eastern Europe is still Europe.)
You don’t assert someone is of the same stock as you, though, unless it is to indicate that they are not actually the same as you after all. For all that they label you as a “fellow Greek”, they do also make it clear that you’re not a completely fellow Greek.
But my experience is, they do it gently, with at most some amusement. Maybe because of my own 1 1/2 status and fluency in Greek, maybe because of residual ethnic nationalism, maybe because of Greek volubility, maybe because of the later wave of emigration to Australia, maybe because I’m Australian and not American and therefore not from the Great Satan—but I’ve never noticed, let alone experienced, any of the outright dickishness that Italy Italians and Ireland Irish seem so happy to dole out on Quora.
This answer is a shout out to Amy Christa Ernano. I don’t share her taste in music, but in the shared experience of anger at sneering from the Old Continent, I deem her my goomar.
As in comare, koumpara in Greek (feminine of koumparos < compare), someome close enough in affinity to be like a godmother to your children. Not as in “mistress”, a term which shows up in media about the Mafia, and from the same etymology.
Leave a Reply