Different English speaking cultures

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Here in Germany, we English speakers have a unique opportunity to observe fellow English speakers from other countries, and the differences are often surprising. Many of us leave our homeland believing that all English speakers are essentially the same, but when we actually encounter them, we learn that this is not the case. In fact, we discover that many of our own character traits, which we thought were universal, are unique to our own culture. They separate us from the other English speakers, but also make us unique.

 

What have you noticed about yourself that is different from other English speakers of other cultures?

In what ways is an Aussie different from a Kiwi? What makes a Canadian different from an American? What are the differences between Irishmen (and women) and Englishmen (and women)?

 

Think about your home country and your culture, and answer these questions:

 

1. What are the words that only people from your country would use?

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Canadian/American/British/Irish/Australian/New Zealander/Indian etc?

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another?

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1. What are the words that only people from your country would use?

There are hundreds in Ireland. To name but a few: culchie (country bumpkin i.e. a person whose family haven't lived in Dublin for more than 3 generations), fooster (wasting time/fidgeting), mitching (playing truant from school), gurrier (hooligan). Apart from that, we also have a whole secret language to dip into when we really don't want you to understand!

 

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Canadian/American/British/Irish/Australian/New Zealander/Indian etc?

Irish people deal well with chaos. We've had practice.

 

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

Guinness, friendliness, spontaneity, openness, excessive drinking, paramilitaries, Michael Flatley. Pity we didn't think of introducing the last two to each other at some point.

 

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another?

Naturally. The West of Ireland has a storytelling tradition which permeates into their everyday speech there. The ones from the far South (Cork) have a singing type accent and speech rhythm which makes them unique. Midlanders, where I'm from, tend to be dour and unimpressed by everything. Northerners have a Scottish-influenced dialect which is quite harsh to our ears. Finally you have Dublin....which is too diverse for a fitting description.

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1. What are the words that only people from your country would use?

There are hundreds in Ireland. To name but a few: culchie (country bumpkin), fooster (wasting time/fidgeting), mitching (playing truant from school), gurrier (hooligan). Apart from that, we also have a whole secret language to dip into when we really don't want you to understand!

 

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Canadian/American/British/Irish/Australian/New Zealander/Indian etc?

Irish people deal well with chaos. We've had practice.

 

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

Guinness, friendliness, spontaneity, openness, excessive drinking, paramilitaries, Michael Flatley. Pity we didn't think of introducing the last two to each other at some point.

 

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another?

Naturally. The West of Ireland has a storytelling tradition which permeates into their everyday speech there. The ones from the far South (Cork) have a singing type accent and speech rhythm which makes them unique. Midlanders, where I'm from, tend to be dour and unimpressed by everything. Northerners have a Scottish-influenced dialect which is quite harsh to our ears. Finally you have Dublin....which is too diverse for a fitting description.

 

Sorry, but Micheal Flatly is a Yank (from Chicago in fact)

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Yes, we know he's American, but his association with Ireland and his claim to fame is his version of Irish dancing, or "Lord of the Dance".

 

Good one Noel, that's us covered :)

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The Irish are ideed, very fun to be with. I am married to a lovely irish girl and I had to learn a new version of English. Pram for baby buggy, Collect instead of pick up, as in I'll collect the children. Going to the shop to get some messages = I'm going to the store to get some things.

 

The only negative that I found with the Irish is that they are fiercely competitive, to the extent that they will do anything to get ahead in the work place, including breaking the law.(which favor the Irish and not outsiders) I had a very bad experience in the Irish work place. I ended up suing a company that I worked for. If this had happened tome in the US, the management would have served time in jail.

 

However, great bunch to have a pint with.

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So, the Irish are lying cheating back-stabbers in the workplace, but you still married one and would like to have a pint with them. I'm confused. Do we Irish have an 'Incredible Hulk' type moment every time we cross the threshold to the office?

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Many of us leave our homeland believing that all English speakers are essentially the same, but when we actually encounter them, we learn that this is not the case. In fact, we discover that many of our own character traits, which we thought were universal, are unique to our own culture.

 

I have yet to meet someone from an English speaking country other than my own who thinks that English speakers from other countries are "essentially the same". Nor do I know anyone who thinks that their own character traits are universal.

 

Let the pigeonholing begin.

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I agree with bonnbonn: human traits are universal - the whole works, admirable and equally scary at times. We can come together at times and we can blow each other up at times. We help each other and destroy each other.

 

Maybe I´m just freaking out tonight! Just watched " The Road " movie!!

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Not sure if this is the right place to say it, but let´s see, shall we?

 

Before moving to Germany I had only encountered the loud-mouthed, "I know everything better than you" version of an American.

 

What I have been really pleasantly surprised to learn since coming here is that they are either a very small minority, or they don´t exist at all - the only Americans I have met here have been absolutely friendly, knowledgeable, polite, and basically absolutely charming.

I never thought I´d say it, but I like Americans!

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So, the Irish are lying cheating back-stabbers in the workplace, but you still married one and would like to have a pint with them. I'm confused. Do we Irish have an 'Incredible Hulk' type moment every time we cross the threshold to the office?

 

No Noel,what I mean is that in Ireland, one has to be very careful of what o say and to whom. Many ofmy other foreign friends agreed with me that we had to be cautious around the Irish (specifically the Dubliners) because of the 'politics' Once i learned to say "nothing to nobody' I faired a lot better. Dude, ny wife and children are Irish. I love the place. I wasn't trying to offend you or the Irish. I could say the exact same thing about the orth Eastern US, very dog eat dog as it were. I am from Virginia. if I piss someone off they' shoot my ass, so that's the envirenment I grew up in. Less competitive and more up front, that's all.

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1. What are the words that only people from your country would use?

Canadians have a wealth of winter words: touque - Canadian for a winter hat (I've always felt like something is linguistically missing in the other Englishes when winter hits); Vico - chocolate milk, chinook - when the warm air rushes down from the mountains (i think) and gives us prairie people a reprise from the arse-cold continental winter; skidoo and skidoosuit - snow machine and a complete winter body suit..

 

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Canadian/American/British/Irish/Australian/New Zealander/Indian etc?

Canadians are often a bit confused about the seal hunt - I'm mean it's probably not good, but the Queen's representative, our Governor General, eats their hearts and it's jobs, eh? Insisting we spell like the Brits even if we don't always do it. A Canadian can also sit down with a Swede, a Finn or a Russian and small talk about what a real winter is like. Allegedly we are polite and tidy. Like Germany, there is a constant search for our true identity, unlike Germany, Canadian identity is centered around what we are not. These are all generalizations, and there is regional variation of course).

 

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

Bob and Doug, poutine, Don Cherry (unfortunately) and anything else that has to do with hockey, the Bluenose Schooner, Ogopogo, Terry Fox, Mr. Dressup, Terrence and Phillip, Bowling for Columbine (is it true you don't lock your doors in Canada?)...

 

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another?

At its widest point, Canada is about 9000 km wide, so there is some variation. The people of Newfoundland (known elsewhere as 'Newfies') speak a dialect that is very different than the rest of the continent and resembles more of an Irish accent. They are always talking about the 'Rock' and how they'd like to get back there someday. Fish seem to be important. The rest of the country seems to have slight variations of the same standard North American English accent, with a Canadian twist. Ontario is/was the industrial heart and the seat of the government. Lots of red brick houses. Inhabitants of this province don't tend to know so much about the rest. The prairies are all about beef - we had steak weekly and roast beef every Sunday. Hardly anybody lives there. The Albertans are known for being red-neck conservatives, but they've got the Rocky Mountains and tonnes of oil money. British Columbia, like Ontario is quite multiculti. Vancouver is the drug capital of Canada. The people are supposed to be relaxed. Victoria is full of flower gardens. Apparently there are people in the North, but I've never met one - maybe it's like Bielefeld. The whole thing sits on a bunch of oil, and uranium and is levelling its forests to supply the world with wood. There are big scary animals that can kill you just about everywhere, well except maybe in Toronto.

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3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

Bob and Doug, poutine, Don Cherry (unfortunately) and anything else that has to do with hockey, the Bluenose Schooner, Ogopogo, Terry Fox, Mr. Dressup, Terrence and Phillip, Bowling for Columbine (is it true you don't lock your doors in Canada?)...

 

So, of the cultural references from Canada the "everybody knows" I recognized Bob & Doug, and Bowling for Columbine, and I don't know how a Michael Moore movie is a Canadian cultural reference (although the movie does reference Canada). Of course I know hockey, but have no idea who Don Cherry is.

 

I guess I'm just an ignorant American.

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I guess I'm just an ignorant American.

 

Perhaps, but it does say "cultural references that everyone from your country knows". That country would be Canada in coyote's case, not the U.S. B)

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Ahhhh... my incipient dyslexia read that as "cultural references that everyone knows from your country."

 

That confirms it-- I AM an ignorant American.

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Canadians have a wealth of winter words: touque - Canadian for a winter hat (I've always felt like something is linguistically missing in the other Englishes when winter hits)

 

In my area of Ohio we refer to that as a "toboggan". Yes, like the sled. Until I went to college I thought that most Americans called it that :lol: . Nope. I guess it's allegedly (according to the oh-so-reliable Wikipedia) a Midwest/Appalachian name for a knit winter hat.

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Being that I am from the US and it is quite large and diverse I am going to answer these questions specifically to my birthplace San Francisco/CA...those from the area can back me up

 

1. What are the words that only people from your country would use? - Hella (As in "I got hella drunk last night"), Gaydar ("Since moving to Germany I see a lot of straight guys with man purses and it is throwing my gaydar totally off"), Marinite (What we call the rich a-holes of Marin County), Yippie (Hippy turned yuppie - think Jerry Garcia turned into web based business entrepreneur/mogul.)

 

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Northern Californian? If we could be seperated from Central and Southern CA we would. A separate state completely. The North is largely liberal, democratic, gay/bi/trans friendly, a large portion are "medicinal" smokers (more than you think) and vegetarian, there is that leftover hippy culture that likes to be outdoors and promotes babies not bombs, BUT there is also that innovative modern spirit that spurred silicon valley into action. State bird (the finger), State plant (mary jauna), state seal (the sea lions down at pier 39). Hedonists without the fake tits and lip plumping from ass fat.

 

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows? Haight/Ashbury (though for the past 20+ years the corner has been home to The Gap and Ben and Jerry's - a sign of gentrification, no?), Silicon Valley (Google/Yahoo/Apple/Pixar/Sun/AE Games/ and so on and so on), The Grateful Dead, Tupac, Oakland, Napa Valley, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Levi Strauss, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" -Mark Twaine.

 

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another? The differences between La La land and Norcal are so numerous it is hard to list them here...let alone the rest of the country. I feel like I am from an island when it comes to election years.

 

I might have missed something, but it's late and time for bed. Fun stuff reading everyone's answers :)

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1. What are the words that only people from your country would use?

Most of our words end up getting exported via Hollywood and MTV, and/or are shared with Canada. The really unique words tend to be regionalisms, like Krimpet.

2. What are the ideas and attitudes that make you definitively Canadian/American/British/Irish/Australian/New Zealander/Indian etc?

I'm arrogant and self-centered even when I try not to be. I value independence and taking care of myself (however badly I do it). I don't ask for help.

3. What are the cultural references that everybody from your country knows?

The ones that everybody knows, surely.

4. Are there significant differences from one part of your country to another?

Oh, God, yes.

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I'm another northern Californian and agree with amazingrace except for the definition of Yippie. Being of an earlier generation, I still think it refers to the political radicals of the Youth International Party, the Groucho Marxists, Abbie Hoffman and the like. The United States is 50 different states and not all that united (51 if they ever get around to dividing California).

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