American Cultural Assumption Discussion

From AmericanCulturalAssumption...

This all seems to imply, that in general, for anybody, from any nation, it's safest to assume first that any other nation's culture, tradition and other NationalIdiosyncrasies are different from his nation's ones. I use NationalIdiosyncrasies with no intended negative bias. Actually, life is more fun when you travel.

When I was in London a year ago, I saw a packaged snack for sale consisting of a single container which held cereal in one compartment and milk in another. I'd never heard of such a thing before, but everyone in London I talked with assumed it must have been an American invention! -- ChrisBaugh

As a lifelong citizen of the United States of America, I enjoy reading British fiction and non-fiction. I especially enjoy decoding their cultural assumptions! I also find the idioms of other cultures interesting.

I have lately noticed some British media sounding much more American than they used to. I did not really appreciate this change (but it is not a big deal either).

We know that all citizens of the USA are not the same, we know that there are many kind, generous and intelligent people there,

Re: Apply to the whole world's people. Here in Quebec, we're saying something translated like "don't trash 12 eggs for a broken one".

Well, you wouldn't know it, from the likes of this page and others on Wiki, not to mention the bashing we take everywhere else. Personally, I'm sick and tired of it. I've never bombed a Third World country, I've never deposed a peaceful government and put a dictator in its place, I don't use my money and influence to bully other nations into doing what I want, and I didn't vote for the governments that have done these things. But I am an American, and I believe in what America (at least used to) stand for (if not necessarily what it actually does on a daily basis).

See WhatAmericaStandsFor.

but the way its government behaves and the way its media portrays that behavior does fit in with the above map.

Sure, if you only pay attention to the big corporate media. There are plenty of dissenting voices here, too - they just don't get broadcast on European TV.

The USA (the state and the power) see the world as one of evil empires and the axis of evil and themselves as always the good guy. The rest of us are scared of you.

Oh, come on. Name one nation whose government does not consider themselves to be "the good guys". And as for being scared of the US - if some other nation were the most powerful, you'd be scared of that nation instead, wouldn't you? -- MikeSmith

It is one thing to consider yourself to be a "good guy", and it is another thing to make the judgment on who are the "bad guys" or member of an "axis of evil".

Seems like our judgments are pretty accurate. North Korea has admittedly broken a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and claims to have actual, functioning nukes. Traces of weapons grade uranium have recently turned up at facilities in Iran. Tens of thousands of bodies have been found in Iraqi mass graves. Sounds like evil is afoot to me.

You say this as if the US do not break international laws and treaties as a matter of course, or US presidents do not lie publicly as a matter of course. We all know how much WMD (none) is found in Iraq. The amazing aspect of American public is they still believes their govt even after being lied to again and again and again.... At least a lot of Chinese know their govt is corrupt and is lying to them. HaHaOnlySerious

If you are offended by Americans (I use this term deliberately) using their own language, assumptions, and idioms, then maybe you would feel better using some other Wiki Web.

I think people who go around looking for the kind of cultural offense that much of this page implies are bigots; they are simply anti-American ones.

It's not cultural offense, it's that we're constantly metaphorically stubbing our toes and getting doors closed in our faces. It's difficult to maintain a sensible, pleasant conversation when you don't understand the words used. It's even more difficult and annoying when you spend time navigating a website to find out that you can't actually make the purchase and no-one had bothered to state up front that they don't take 'international' orders. And some of the time they don't even realist that 'international' is not, in fact, a generic synonym for 'outside the USA'. Let us vent, and please don't call us bigots just for stating what's irritating us. Please.

You know, I went to Spain and I found to my shock that they use a completely different system of measurements over there! When I tried to talk to people in bars, they insisted on using another language than the one I grew up with! And when I tried to learn that language, I found they even had a completely different set of phrases and cultural references than I did! They even eat food that I'm not used to! How rude! How inconsiderate! How exclusionary!

For better or for worse, you could say that this Wiki is, de-facto, a largely American site. The inventor and founder is American. The vast majority of users are American. It's not inconsiderate for those Americans to speak largely as if they are among other Americans. If you don't catch the references, just ask - most of us will be perfectly happy to explain. And if you want to throw in a phrase from your own culture, please please do.

Yes, Americans can be provincial, narrow-minded, and ignorant. Yes, they act like the rest of the world is their sandbox. And if you want to criticize our politics, the way we let capitalism destroy our communities, the way we pollute the rest of the world, please go right ahead. But why would you criticize a group of mostly Americans for acting as if they're mostly among Americans?

And although I'm sorry about the pain-in-the-ass factor of trying to order from an American e-commerce site, I don't see how the inconvenience amounts to an intentional snub. If I logged onto a Chinese e-commerce site and tried to get toys shipped to Barcelona, how much luck do you think I would have? How easy would it be to get a page in English, or in Spanish? A database system that accepts Latin characters instead of Chinese Unicode? Internationalization is bloody hard, and the lack of such work doesn't always imply provincialism.
Your first sentence is a good example of your own assumption. Implicit in it is that most of the writing emanates from the US. Really only the US writers are assuming that every reader is from the USA, aren't they?

Just my clumsy attempt at irony. I was deliberately addressing the page at Americans. Thereby implicitly showing the same assumption. And the whole page is mostly just an attempt to "get it off my chest"

But change it around. Most people when they write aren't writing to readers, they are writing from themselves. When people "speak", especially from their cubicle or bedroom into a computer monitor, they are not trying to be "understood around the world". They are just trying to express something on their minds. For a professional publication, I agree with you. For wiki, I would expect to see "pounds" and "dollars" and "guilders" mixed in indiscriminately. If someone from Europe wrote FourRingBinders?, it would have the same net meaning.

It also assumes that the writer knows what parts of their everyday life are different in another part of the world, and how. It wouldn't even possibly occur to a person who has seen ThreeRingBinders all their life and never been to Europe, that in some other place another number of rings is used - why should it?

Pete Townsend can sing about "A4-pushers...

Hence the existence of this page!


Also see "How to tell if you're American" (http://www.zompist.com/amercult.html), Mark RosenFelder?'s answer to someone's declaration that there's "no such thing as American culture".


There is a certain ignorance in spelling words which can not be expressed with seven bit ASCII (see e.g. GoedelEscherBach vs. GodelEscherBach). The AsciiCode should indeed have been called USSCII. Its purpose was for standardizing both printable symbols and unprintable control marks for tele-typewriters throughout the USA. As American English has an absence of diacritical marks, it was not unreasonable for the inventors of the system to omit code sequences representing printable marks not used in American English. UniCode is certainly widely available for those needing a larger repertoire of presentable characters. Funny, English English doesn't have much in the way of diacritical marks either. You only see them when words from other languages are being rendered.


Politics

Being accused of being a Socialist, Marxist, or even altruist as if that were a BadThing???

For many years the US defined its superpower role primarily in Cold War opposition to communists USSR, perceived as providing a socialist implementation of Marxist ideals, and supposedly a place where individuals were prevented from achieving their full potential by enforcement or brainwashing into altruistically sacrificing personal development for the sake of the state-defined common good.

People in the US are innately skeptical of collectivism. I did not know that we consider "altruism" a bad thing as Americans are known for their willingness to volunteer for a good cause.

A story, possibly true: In an American school class, the teacher asks a boy from China to say Merry Christmas, and asks what language he used; answer Chinese. Likewise a boy from Japan. Then she asks a native born American boy to say Merry Christmas, and of course he says "Merry Christmas". Then the teacher asks what language he used. He quickly answers, "Normal!".

I worked at the C. N. Tower in Toronto as a student. A young boy from, I think, the Philadelphia asked me, about the arcade games, "Do these games only take Canadian quarters, or do they take the regular kind?" -- JbRainsberger

I received a useful lesson in this regard in an elevator on the way to lunch with some students in a class I was teaching at a client site. Someone asked me what kind of food I liked, and I said something like "anything ethnic". One of the Asians in the elevator promptly said something like "Oh, like hamburgers?". Ooof. -- MitchellModel

Overheard abroad: "How much is that in real money?" Also: "What time is it really?"

Not only the BBC - Windows tells me that my TimeZone is "GMT + 10:00"

So how would you say, "Fourth of July" outside of the US? Would it be July 4th? Would it mean the same thing? If one were to ask, "Do they have the Fourth of July in other countries?" what's a reasonable answer?

Yes! Between the Third of July and the Fifth of July!

At this point you're actually asking about Independence Day, not July 4th. So in Switzerland the Fourth of July is on August 1st.

Fourth of July? Isn't that 'Thanksgiving' in the UK? :)

Mexico: September 15 (1910).

Or, to a lesser extent, "Cinco de Mayo" for Mexicans. (5th of May) ... for the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla.

[It's interesting to note that Cinco De Mayo is primarily a Mexican-American tradition, ie celebrated by people of Mexican heritage living in the US. It's not widely celebrated in Mexico itself.] Here in Portland we even call it Cinco de Mayo, and use those famous Mexican traditions of eating cotton candy, riding dizzying carnival rides, drinking lots of beer and having a big fireworks show at night.

So you're asking Chinese and Japanese kids to say "Merry Christmas"? Doesn't that assume they're Christian? Most far-east people aren't. Or is the modern Christmas merely a capitalist holiday? If so, does it still apply to China? Is it OK to refer to oriental countries as "far-east"? Doesn't that assume there's something to the West? Say, the United States and Europe? Doesn't that make us the far-west? Do we need to include Canada, Latin America, and Africa in the far-west so that they don't feel left out? Does this cultural sensitivity ever end? Dunno; I've always wondered how nations that lie right on the Greenwich Meridian could be considered "Western" in the first place - is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge the dividing line? Where does that leave Iceland?

(BTW, what do you think that 'oriental' means? -- JoergKreienbuehl?)
As long as we're being culturally sensitive, it should be noted that a number of Asians in the UnitedStates object to the use of the word "Oriental" to describe people or countries. In the same way that some would prefer you say "Persian Gulf region" instead of "Middle East".
Christmas is primarily a commercial and cultural event rather than a religious one for the majority of US Americans. "Happy holidays" certainly is a more inclusive term, however I don't see why anyone should be offended at being wished personal merriment on a day widely used for family gathering, meals, gift exchanges and festive decorations even amongst those not celebrating the alleged birthday of Jesus.

I just flew back from a holiday/vacation in Florida - a fellow tourist described her visit to Epcot, where you can tour various different "countries" built around a lake. Her only complaint about England, was that the girl serving in the traditional "Fish and Chips" shop had made a mistake and given her fish and French fries instead.

Worse, they probably gave it to her on hygienically-approved wax paper instead of yesterday's newspaper. :-)


Reminds me of a 'User Interface Guidelines' document from a US company which gave advice about translating screens from English to a European language.


There's also the great booklet 'Gebrauchsanweisung fuer Amerika', ISBN 3492024017 from PaulWatzlawick?. Unfortunately, it is a) out of print and b) probably only in German available. -- LorenzBeyeler


Well, since we're dissecting ThreeRingBinders, and I wrote it, maybe I should say something. ;) First, I'm Canadian, so that'd be CanadianCulturalAssumption, eh.

So the Cultural Assumption of the person who started this page was that anyone writing on wiki using terms he didn't understand would have to be U.S.! Fascinating reversal.

Perhaps NorthAmericanCulturalAssumption...

It's weird to have cultural assumptions in this country because you learn by experience that they are all wrong. Many times I've been told, "Sorry, sir, but the computer says you have to have a middle initial." I don't have a middle name. Many other things too. Anyway.

The problem with making it generic like RingBinder? is that it isn't generic enough. Other cultures may use different devices for transferring information. So, you could say BoundedPaperDevice?, but that wouldn't make the same point. Moreover, I don't even know if that's sufficiently generic.

Since I rely on rhetorical devices to get my point across, I occasionally use colloquialisms when necessary. I feel that ThreeRingBinders just sounds so much better, carries so many more connotations, makes the point so much better. Since I'm speaking emotionally, I have to speak from my own experiences and my own culture. I cannot hope to envelope everyone's lives, keep it interesting and give it meaning at the same time.

This is easy to understand. Indeed it's what makes writing interesting and personal rather than tedious and dry. The aim of this page, however, is to remind people that when you write something that "just sounds so much better", you are probably implicitly using some cultural assumption. By all means do so, but be aware that to a reader from another culture, the local idiom may distort or ruin the sense of what you write, rather than improving it. This sort of thing is why writing on the Internet (and that includes Wiki) poses more challenges than writing for a purely local audience. (*)

I don't think Wiki is the IEEE - it's more human than technical.

Finally, since this is Wiki, feel perfectly free to move the page to a better name if you can think of one, eh. -- SunirShah

(*) I disagree. The best way of going in a medium like Wiki is to stop worrying about how challenging writing for an international audience is and refactor as you need to. The cost of change is low and you can only learn by publishing. This sounds like XP because programming is life and life is programming (if you know how). -- ss


Give me a break. I came from a land down under, and now I'm surrounded by podeans of all identical stripes, each complaining about the other. The difference between a canuck and a seppo is nothing in Aussie eyes. Or between a pom and a Welshman. I mean, which end do you open your egg? It doesn't help me to know how many feet there are in a city block - try it in metres fer cryin' out loud. Nor am I worried about how many rings there are in a binder, or whether someone uses an unfamiliar brandname. Of course the seppoes don't give a hoot about the ways of the rest of us. They spell aluminium aluminum and call a main course an entree too. I'm only thankful they don't outlaw alternatives like the French do.

But look around your native land and you'll see McDonalds, baseball hats, and gridiron football guernseys advertising seppo teams, just like the seppoes wear. Before 2100 we'll all have all the same brands and spell the same way - the HiveMind will fix all that stuff. Just live long enough and you'll soon feel equally out of place everywhere. -- PeterMerel

I don't know, we still have TippEx?, White Out and Tintenkiller.

What wonderful opportunities we all have to learn more! Let's not ruin it by insisting that everything always be in terms we already understand. I was delighted to learn that a Brit's car has a bonnet and an Aussie's pointy haired boss might be called a bludger.

Actually a bludger is a lazy parasite, not necessarily pointy haired or a boss. Bludger is usually connected with dole - a dole bludger being someone who collects welfare for prolonged periods without looking for work. See also: LetStalkStrine.


Wuzza podean and a seppo?

The spelling's weird, but I have this mental image of cows walking around with advertising painted on them ;-) gernsey v guernseys or didja mean Jerseys?


Wow. I understood all of that. I guess I haven't forgotten as much of my Strine as I thought. (I'd forgotten about being a seppo, though. Wonder why? :-) Thanks, Peter.

A podean is someone from the northern hemisphere (the opposite of an 'antipodean', of course), and a seppo is (more specifically) an American. Don't ask.


Should we move the above sections to an AustralianCulturalAssumption page?


Here are a couple of true stories about American/Australian relations, from my time living in Perth. One of these actually relates to the American/Canadian theme growing in this page.

While my wife and I were there, we were amazed at the number of people we met who would say, "So, are you Canadian?" This was bewildering. I can see how Australians wouldn't be quick to distinguish the accents (most Americans can't distinguish between Aussie and Kiwi accents). But just on the basis of relative populations, it seemed like the odds would be that we were American. Why would they assume Canadian? It didn't offend us, but we had to wonder ...

We finally asked someone. They laughed and said, "It's safer. If you meet an American and guess that they're Canadian, they just think it's funny. But if you meet a Canadian and guess that they're American, they get angry." Made perfect sense, once someone told me! Since then, I've told this story to several Australians that I've met, and a couple of Americans who've spent a lot of time there. The same thing always happens: halfway through the story, they start to grin, and then they take over and finish the story for me.

Second story, and then I'll stop being a bore. This is an excerpt from a technical argument I had with a colleague in Perth one day:

Australian: What do you know, anyway? You call punctures flats.

Me: Yeah, well, you call apartments flats.

-- GlennVanderburg

I dunno Glenn: I see where you were coming from on that one, but... I always thought that apartment was a silly name for a clump of housing units put together! Flat, on the other hand, makes sense. :)

["Apartment" (think: a-part-ment) building implies separation as opposed to barrack-style living quarters where unrelated people share one large space. But why is it a 'building' after it's built?]
Another AmericanCulturalAssumption:

Assuming that an "American" is from the UnitedStatesOfAmerica, not elsewhere in NorthAmerica, CentralAmerica?, SouthAmerica?, or the Caribbean.

Do Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians, etc. ever actually refer to themselves as "Americans"? I've never heard them do so, except to complain about the assumption that "American" means "citizen of the United States of America".

[Official names of countries are commonly ignored. I've never heard a North Korean called a DPRKian, for instance.]


Just to throw a curve, here's another definition of AmericanCulturalAssumption:

Everyone assumes changes to their culture came from America.

Perfect examples: This page; everyone assumed ThreeRingBinders was an American thing when I'm Canadian. Also, in Canada, everyone assumes Chapters (http://www.chapters.ca) is American when it's purebred Canadian; indeed, it's the best thing to ever happen to the Canadian publishing industry ever.

Moral of the story: Just because your life is changing, it doesn't mean it's necessarily America's fault. Other cultures affect you as well. This is most immediately visible in your supermarket and the voting booth (at least in Canada). And, hell, stop complaining! Show some adaptability! -- ss

throw a what?

Groan. I quit. From now on I'm talking completely in terms of mathematics, code, dictionary English and the JargonFile. Of course, I get to pick the dictionary. -- ss

BWAHAHAH! A curve, from baseball (not rounders!) a pitch which takes a circular path from the pitcher's hand to the catcher's glove. Oppose to high heat which is fast, straight, inyer face and hard to lay off.

I think we need a CulturalSports? page.


As an Australian, married to a Canadian, living in Washington USA, I find the cultural differences between Canadians and Americans to be fascinating. I would expect the differences between someone from BC Canada and Washington USA to be less than those between a Californian and a Texan given the distances involved, except there are huge differences between Canadian and American expectations that completely out weigh the geographical differences. -- AndrewNicholson

Would that be Washington state or Washington, DC?

Everyone assumes changes to their culture come from America.

Most of the bad ones do: it's become a conditioned reflex. Ahem. If they're so "bad", then why are they taking hold in your country? Obviously, someone there doesn't think they're so bad. - They come because of package deals like the below, where we may not want the sizes but care more about the photocopiers.

Speaking of Canada - the last time I was there, I had reason to attempt to photocopy (that's "Xerox" for those of you in the US) a few pages from a book. Oh my god! All these weird, non-proportional paper sizes, with strange magnification ratios. Try as I might, I could not avoid either huge black margins around each copied page, or missing out part of the printed area.

Upon querying a Canuk friend ("Hey! I thought this was a metricated country") I was told that, since most of the photocopiers were imported from the US, Canadians had to resort to all these ad-hock paper sizes (what's jurisprudential about "legal" paper, BTW?), and it really did her head in, too.

''Since you asked, "legal size" paper is called such because no-one uses it except lawyers. It's as wide as a normal size (8.5"x11" I have no idea in meters, but I remember that 1 inch = 2.54 cm, so you do the math (*)) sheet of paper, but longer. This is because lawyers talk too much and specify too much, so they need longer sheets of paper to do so." -- BobbyWoolf

Why would longer paper be needed for "briefs"?

(*) ... or should that be "so you do the maths"?


I went to college in the US state of Alabama, and I spent a good chunk of my time at the International House (the place where exchange students from other countries had meetings, gatherings, etc) and I often heard the joke: "What do you call someone who speaks X languages? Xlingual! (3, tri, 2, bi) What do you call someone who speaks one language? American!

The EuropeanCulturalAssumption includes the assumption that a basic education must include multiple languages; and in Europe this is a reasonable assumption. Europeans bashing monolingual Americans seem to forget that over 280 million people, every climate in the world, most types of geography and life styles in the world, the world's largest economy and most powerful government, and thousands of miles (1.6thousands of kilometres for you) are available to US citizens without their needing to cross a national border.

Someone who speaks more than two languages is a Polyglot

I tend to think of polyglots as having exceptional ability with multiple languages. The only person I ever met that I consider a polyglot knew English, French, Hebrew, Latin, German, and four or five others and could translate from any of them into any other without stepping first through English as a temp space. You can see it on most people's faces when they translate from one language into their native language, then into a third.

Odd you mention this. I have heard the equivalent joke made about and by the English and the French. I think you got that answer because you were in the US at the time. Another AmericanCulturalAssumption.

I could add to this list German and Russian, It seems that big nations are somehow self-sufficient and don't have a need to learn some other languages.

I happen to speak more than one spoken language (not extremely well maybe :), and I'm an American happily living in Finland.

Maybe this page should have been called CulturalAssumptions instead of anything else. Wherever two cultures meet, there will be imperfect communication. -- ShaeErisson

>>Not if you use the tried and tested practice of shouting while talking very slowly.

WHERE .... IS .... THE .... BATH .... ROOOOOM!!!!!

I understand that in Finland, they make these same sorts of cultural imperialist comments about the Swedes.

My father (an American) speaks French and Lonkundo well, and a little German, Spanish, Russian, and Lingala. Of course, he has lived outside the US for a dozen years. Most Americans never do, and never expect to, so learning a foreign language for them is both hard and not worth the time they would invest. I studied French for many years, and when I go to France am happy if I can read menus and talk to shop-keepers. You can't keep up a language if you never practice it. It is hard to practice most languages (except Spanish) in the US.

''Ah, but here we are talking about that small cross-section of the US that actually leaves our country and visits some place where they don't speak our language. There aren't very many, you know."

Dish network. You can get TV in all sorts of languages, including BBC America. It's an easy way to maintain language skills.


Dave, you remind me of a skit on Australian TV a few years back. Father and Mother bring out a a birthday cake for their son's 21st:

Father: Son, now you're a man, it's time come to tell you something important about yourself.

Mother: Please Dad, we don't have to tell him. Let it go a while longer -

Father: No, Mother, I have to say the time has come. Son, I don't know quite how to say this, but you have to know that we're not actually your biological parents.

Son: you mean ... you mean I'm adopted?

Father: No, no. Look, the fact is you're actually a Pommie backpacker. You were going to spend a couple of nights in our spare room, but that was four years ago and you just never left ...


Two things about us Americans: First, those of us of U.S. citizenship are called Americans because we are the only country in either South or North America that has the word "America" in its name. It's a hell of a lot easier to say "American" than "United States citizen", though I've always enjoyed being referred to as a Yank in Britain and a running dog imperialistic war monger by everyone else.

Secondly, although not as large as Russia or Canada, we are still geographically pretty doggone big, and have a population distributed all over the place consisting of the greatest diversity in terms of religion, race, national origin, etc. of anywhere else. Despite that, we somehow maintain a unified identity for the most part, avoiding the balkanization of our regions by language and culture. This makes learning and then maintaining proficiency in foreign languages very difficult. I imagine Australians and New Zealanders have the same problem, and I'll bet most Canadians and Russians are monoglots as well. My own Russian and German language skills have deteriorated severely since I lived in Europe in the mid-70s. Of my friends from places like Malaysia, Singapore, Viet Nam, Brazil, Germany, and so on, it always amazes me how their children end up as American as apple pie in just that one generation, even though they speak their parents' tongues at home and visit the old countries every year. Hoo-hah! More imperialistic war mongers on our side! -- DonOlson

It seems strange to assume that most people in Canada are monoglots when Canada is (isn't it?) an officially bilingual country. That's okay; New Zealand is officially bilingual, too. I personally feel that proficiency in foreign languages is largely affected by how close to a country that speaks another language you live. For example, in Australia, it seems that most people in the southern part of the country are either mono- or bilingual (and the bilinguals are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants). Those who do learn another language seem to learn European ones. In the north of the country, there are a lot more (proportionally) people who speak another language that is _not_ to do with their cultural background, and it is almost invariably an Asian language. By the same token, it seems that the people living closer to Mexico are far more likely to speak Spanish despite not having a Spanish or Mexican background, whilst the Northerners only speak English (as Canada is predominately English-speaking). -- RobertWatkins.

I have always had difficulty in believing that Apple Pie was originally American. Sorry, it just seems unlikely - especially as apples were never native to America

That apple pie originated outside America does not make it "not American." Almost everything "American" is borrowed, yet fits in.

Except ChineseFoodInAmerica?.


As nobody's touched on the IntraAmericanCulturalAssumptions I have to bring that one up too. Media representations of the US, both domestic and foreign, seem to imply some sort of homogenized single culture here. But I assure you, as a RustBelt? native born and raised, there are upwards of 10 separate and quite distinct cultures here, with their own dialects, social norms, cuisine, and demographics.

When I was working in Santa Fe (in the state of New Mexico), I tried always to be on hand to watch when the European or Australian or East Coast US visiting scholars would arrive for a lengthy visit. It was extremely entertaining watching their notion of "American" culture clash with the reality of Santa Fe. I assure the reader that Santa Fe and environs is nothing like anything anybody has been prepared for by media representations, at least with regard dialect, social norms, cuisine, or demographics.

Unfortunately, I no longer recall all the academic terms for the cultural divisions here, but they include the RustBelt?, the SouthWest?, SoCal? (not included in the SouthWest?), NorCal? (which oddly enough includes some of Oregon), the PacificNorthWest?, the GreatPlains?, the DeepSouth?, the ChesapeakeBay?, the Appalachians, the EasternSprawl?, and some others I forget for the moment. [NewEngland?]

see The Nine Nations of North America (ISBN 0380578859 ) for more detail about the regions and their distinctions.

But suffice to say that there's a whole 'nother suite of AmericanCulturalAssumptions. -- BillTozier

I question the idea that there are different cultures in the UnitedStatesOfAmerica divided along geographic lines. I wonder whether today it isn't more useful to draw the lines among demographic or subcultural groups instead of among geographic regions. I think that perhaps America is homogeneous and Americans are mobile enough that HighRiseRenters? (see http://www.bhimarketing.com/acorn_summary.htm) the nation over live in basically the same world. -- SkyeXu

To carry my tangent even further, if you live in the UnitedStatesOfAmerica, try plugging your ZipCode? in at http://demographics.caci.com/free_samples/zip_code_searches.htm to see what demographic PigeonHole? your neighborhood fits into. -- SkyeXu

The neighborhood one lives in (yuppie enclave, rural area, ghetto) has a lot to do with one's cultural attitudes, for sure. But geographic/regional differences most certainly do exist. And they're not just matters of local taste (cuisine, etc.) and speech (accent, dialect) either. Many people report CultureShock moving from (for example) the West Coast to New York City - even if they stay within the same socioeconomic group in both places.


Had the Internet been invented a hundred years ago, we would probably be talking about the "European Cultural Assumption." A hundred years from now, we might be talking about an Asian or African bias.


We could get rid of all of these cultural assumptions by writing the wiki in a CulturallyNeutralLanguage like LojbanLanguage or EsperantoLanguage or some such.

How big are city blocks and paper sizes in Lojbanistan and Esperantujo?

Well, due to the central premise of languages like these, we can assume they would adhere to rational systems. Thus paper sizes would certainly follow the "A" system. City blocks are less obvious, but it is probably safe to assume a simple rational scaling of a kilometre...

Unless people in the country import photocopiers from the US, in which case they still have to deal with insane paper sizes. The language isn't the problem. The world is the problem.

In Lojbanistan, paper size only exists if added modally. Although the x2 place is for the source, so if it's British paper it's an A size. But we don't care, e-mail has made paper obsolete (There is no lojban newsletter, for instance.) City blocks are probably "pipa kiltomitre" - .1 kilometers, which doesn't tell you if it's "pipa pi'i dau du pa" or "pipa pi'i vei vai su'i pa ve'o du pa" - .1 could be one tenth or one sixteenth, and in lojban both bases are used. The default assumption, however, is base ten... but I like hex better. [pipa pi'i dau du pa means .1 * A [as in the hex digit for ten] = 1, pipa pi'i vei vai su'i pa ve'o du pa means .1 * (F [hex digit for 15] + 1) = 1]

I was under the impression that Lojbanistan was a language community and not a country. Well. Here in the rest of the world many of us still use paper, and in American sizes no less. If you want us to use Lojban, we need a way to say the photocopier is out of legal paper, even if that allows cultural assumptions. Wackiness in the real world means wackiness in any language that describes the real world. Sorry.


There's a basketball league called National Basketball Association (NBA) and it declares its championship team as World Champion. OK, I accept that even an ordinary NBA team can beat the best national team (other than USA of course :) but how come "National" and "World" goes hand in hand? -- SavasAlparslan

Because we have a penchant for hyperbole. Especially in sports.

You've understated the situation. All of our professional sports leagues do this. our?! :) Smiley noted, but given that I was speaking as an American, on the subject of American sports, yes "our". You also missed questioning the "we" in the previous paragraph.

Actually, the World Series is called that because it was started by the now-defunct newspaper The New York World. At the time (100 years ago), there were two independent major leagues (the American and National Leagues), each of which crowned its own champion. The World Series pitted the champions of these two leagues, as it still does today. Of course nowadays, the National and American leagues are part of one larger entity - MajorLeagueBaseball?. (However, the two leagues still enjoy far greater autonomy than the differing divisions in other sports. The AFC and NFC, though also initially separate organizations, play the same brand of football. There are considerable rules differences between the AL and NL - when teams from differing leagues play against each other, the rules of the home team apply.)


One of the worst AmericanCulturalAssumption is that history began with the Declaration of Independence.

We don't think that....just that all important history began with the Declaration of Independence....:-> -- PeteHardie

Do you really think that is the case? It's a joke, man

Once I've seen a CNN 'chief correspondent', doing a story about Kosovo (long time before the ugly war began). He said something along the lines The people here make so much fuss about some events that happened 6 centuries ago (i.e. the battle of Kosovo Polje - of course he didn't know the exact 'event') . Politics aside, the reporter behave like any history beyond the Declaration of Independence should not exist in the first place.

-- CostinCozianu

After living in the US for some years now, I'm coming to understand that this is the essence of the US: every immigrant is expected to start with a clean slate, forget their history (not culture, as is often falsely claimed) and become an American. To this day, this conversion is usually achieved by the second generation. As a result, most Americans view Europeans' obsession with their ancient history as a kind of quaint and entertaining pathology. -- AndrewQueisser

That's a good insight. It explains why holding a grudge over a six-century-old conflict (as given in the example above) just doesn't make sense to us. It's not that we think that pre-USA history is meaningless; we just don't believe in going looking back more than a generation or two to decide where our loyalties are. Immigrants to the US are expected to give up that old baggage when they choose to become citizens. And it explains the mistrust that "mainstream America" (yeah, I know that's a loaded term) has toward groups that don't choose to fit in.

Now, you see how you fall in your own trap? You assumed serbs are holding a grudge over a six century old conflict and therefore they and the albanians are fighting to death over the six century old grudge. Without entering into the lousy politics of today, I can assure you that you assumed something wrong. And by the way the ''big fuss' that the CNN reporter referred to was not a fight with albanians, it was just a commemoration of the battle that was fought against the otoman empire (the ancestor of modern Turkey).

Boy, these Americans surely could use some history books. Even your proud presidents could use some more general culture lessons. -- CostinCozianu

Well, I'm not sure I've fallen into a trap. I didn't know there was a trap set for me. I was attempting to describe some of the common thinking of Americans, which is the topic of this page. You know more about the history of Serbia than I do, and also know more about that CNN report that you saw and I didn't. Congratulations, you win. ''Ah, was it you who first said '...holding a grudge over a six-century-old conflict (as given in the example above)...'?"

This is not just an American problem, I see this all the time in the British popular press. Could this be a universal trait, or an AngloSaxonCulturalAssumption?? -- ChrisBrooking?

This may be very interesting. As a matter of fact, I observed that French also have this kind of problem. Maybe it is a problem specific to "dominant" cultures, in smaller cultures we are utterly aware that we don't know a lot there is to know and this helps us, while French think that the France is the culturally richest country, English think something very similar also, and Americans don't usually think in cultural terms but they think they know all there is to know.

Know-it-all-ism is an American only trait? Apparently, unlike you, I didn't know that. :-) Seriously, though, think about what you are saying. Most Americans will admit to knowing _nothing_ about the WorldWrestlingFederation?. -- ChrisHyser

What happened to a friend from South Africa here in America: - And where are you from ? -South Africa. -And where in Europe is this located ?. Again a lot of Americans will make the connection between the name of the country and the geography, this was a rather extreme case, but a lot won't know if my country is in Europe, Africa or Asia. -- CC


I don't believe, however that the title of this page is just, because you'll find some degree of inculture and lots of assumptions in every corner of the world, and you can also find very enlightened people in USA, some of them even specializing in the history and culture of other people.

Of course, those people don't make it to CNN,ABC,NBC and the likes. Maybe American Popular Culture Assumption would be a more exact title.

-- CostinCozianu

I think the real issue is - why do non-Americans listen to what a chief correspondent for CNN says and immediately assume that that person speaks for all Americans? Maybe there's a NonAmericanCulturalAssumption? at work here.

The CNN reporter was just an example, albeit symptomatic. A chief correspondent could at least buy a handbook on the region that he's going to report from. On the other hand, I mentioned above that this is rather an American popular culture assumption and I don't want to say that ALL Americans think this way, although a vast majority do, including and up to your presidents. It's not the problem by itself that they don't know too much universal history, but the more subtle problem is that even if people know they are ignorant about a subject, they very easily come to simplistic representations, explanations, conclusions. -- CC

And only Americans do this? My belief is there are stupid narrow minded people everywhere. We just try to keep rotating a subset of ours onto TV to sufficiently entertain the rest so they don't have time to run around and kill each other in mass quantities like just about everywhere else in the world. As a free market, we (the demographic of the lowest common denominator) do get the media we pay for, and as a representative democracy elected through TV ads, we (the people with the large campaign donations) do get the government we bought. So yes, these Americans do need history books because we don't understand the historical context that excuses genocide in the Balkans or the perpetual retribution cycle in the Mideast. I mean, think about what you said, you've apparently met _the vast majority of all Americans_, found they didn't pass your particular history trivia quiz, and determined that even when they know they're stupid they can't help but be dense about it. Please!! -- ChrisHyser

You know, in contradiction of the previous paragraph, most of the rest of the world does not live in fear of killings in mass quantities. Most people in the world can live out their lives quite happily without fear of random shootings or mad bombers or warmongering leaderships. The United States isn't the only bastion of peace, security and democracy in the world, carrying on like it does goes beyond being an AmericanCulturalAssumption and into AmericanCulturalArrogance?.

What's a shame is that the CNN correspondent appears to have skipped doing the relevant research. Then history lessons in medieval Balkan history for everyone wouldn't have been necessary. Why bother telling the audience that people in Kosovo were commemorating a 600-year-previous event without giving an idea what the event was about?

Of course, if you insist on getting involved (as the U.S. in particular is wont to do) then surely it is only ethical to understand what you're getting involved in first? (And if - as is belaboured ad nauseum - the United States Government represents the people of the United States, that the actions of the U.S. Government reflects the will of the people, then yes, they should be able to pass that particular history trivia(?!) quiz or they won't know what they're getting involved in!)


A joke heard recently at a Java Training Course (told by a US Citizen):

 Q: What are the last two words of the U.S. national anthem?

A: (Answer printed backwards, so it doesn't spoil the joke.) !llab yalp

Some quirks of English language have migrated to the American....... such as UncleBob. Do/will things migrate to American Culture, become absorbed, perhaps change slightly, then get pushed back out onto the rest of the world, via American cultural influence, by way of the media? -- AsHen

Interesting point. I think that there is an arguable point that very few entities in AmericanCulture? are original to the United States. Many of our reasonably interesting television shows are little more than poor copies of the BBC. Few of our sporting events originated here (Rounders->Baseball), (Rugby->NFL football). I believe basketball is native to the US, but may have been influenced by South American indigenous tribes. Most of our music is heavily influenced by the UK. It seems we just copy something from another country, remove the interesting bits, and recycle it as our own culture, just like the Romans. -- DavidHurt

Anthropologists have found sports/games similar to basketball (they involved throwing a ball through a ring of some sort) among the indigenous South American tribes; there is no evidence to suggest that James Naismith, the Canadian (!) credited with inventing the game of basketball, was influenced by these at all.


Fox news presents an extreme right-wing, nutty pseudo-christian (ChristEricanism?) view for all of us to see. While we know that this is absolute rubbish, we are confused as to why America does not try to present a more human, less imperialist, view of itself. While propaganda like Fox continues, the natural consequence is for foreign journalists to take a contrary perspective, further hiding the truth, which is, of course, that there are very many Americans who regret the stance that is being taken by your current administration. I certainly regret the stance taken by our government.

As a Canadian, I find it rather strange that Europeans take such offence at Americans supposedly appropriating the term "american". Maybe it was tradition that this usage was designed to "give the finger" to Canadians, however from a Canadian point of view we used the term "american" to describe you. Remember, back in those days (those days continuing up to, let's say, 1930, we were quite happy to consider ourselves British.

However, speaking of "giving the finger to Canadians" it is quite interesting to look at certain European cultural assumptions. A Spanish teacher of mine in Spain pointed out the supposed offence Canadian should take at Americans calling themselves "american". This was food for thought, until I turned on the Spanish news that evening to hear President Bush described as the "North American" president. 51st State here we come.


[ignorant, racist, offensive rant deleted]


Well, these were obvious facts, if you ever could get a grip on reality. Look to Europe now, American culture is taking over. And, believe or not, American culture is unculture from the fact that it is mostly IndustrialCulture?, unculture, as always being a non-racist term for describing that the culture was not necessarily made or grew from human interaction and building of cultural knowledge and wisdom. Look into our countries, look into your country and don't deny that fact. And, yes, we mimic your cultural behaviour because industry, as everywhere is taking over cultural control, including politics. -- CarstenKlein

I won't restore the other text, but it was never meant racist talk or something. From the obvious to pure facts I would rather call these but not racist talk.

I don't know what it was someone deleted, that you're talking about, however your opinions above are uninformed by cultural anthropology. The fact that you call something "unculture" doesn't mean such a thing exists. The fact that you call something "industrial culture, not necessarily made or grew from human interaction and building of cultural knowledge and wisdom" doesn't mean that such a thing exists, and in fact, doesn't even mean that you're making a coherent claim. If you want to have an informed opinion about the topic you're ranting about, cultural anthropology is a good place to start, beginning with the technical definition of "culture".

Some classic examples of cultural invasiveness: there's essentially no hunter-gatherer culture in the world anymore that doesn't use western style metal knives, metal cooking pots, metal needles, finely woven cloth, etc, all of which are (A) western, (B) industrial, (C) alien to the local culture, (D) cannot be produced by the local culture, (E) rely on ongoing external contact/trade to obtain.

This means that, at least in certain regards, original cultural traditions are being permanently lost, which is sad for science, and deplorable to certain aesthetics, but happened because those people want those items for the same reason everyone in the western world wants them; they are suitable for important basic human needs.

Westernization of the world in general, and Americanization of the world in particular, is by analogy fairly similar: it has a deplorable side but also an inevitable side. It happens because individuals want it. And do please note that Americanization is merely the leading edge of Westernization, not something apart from Westernization, so the mere fact that you are in Germany does not allow you any higher moral ground here.

This is all quite similar to the incredible impact that Chinese culture has had on all parts of Asia for thousands of years. People borrowed from Chinese culture things that they wanted, deplorable or not.


Now we are talking culture, I believe. Of course, I am not an anthropologist nor do I consider myself beknowledged enough to make any claims in that direction. Yet, I am human and I observe and finally I come to terms with.

Let us declare once and for all, what culture is, then I believe we can talk about what American or European or whatever civilization's culture is. Now, let us put back the term of industrial culture as it is rather new and believe or not, here in Germany we have a city where they call the mall and everything surrounding it, a "Route of industrial culture". But more on industrial culture later on, again *sic* ;-).

By natural culture, as you have pointed out, I mean of course human interaction from the ground up, and, on becoming more and more artificial in the sense that the legislature we install and the politics we derive from human interaction and social interaction and interaction of whole social bodies, we build up culture. Yet, culture from the beginning was also and most prominently defined by religion. In religion we find that we try to find reasonably sound believes of what is and most prominently what was, maybe what will be. We forge a view on our lives and our origin and possibly our future. We believe in religion as we do in culture. An believe is everything but knowledge. Religion is believe. But that is only one part of our culture. In culture we also strive for knowledge, apart from just believing in some words being spoken long ago, then written down and being forged by some great emperor or statesmen to their liking. We care for building up knowledge as a great part of our culture. Part of culture is also the symbols we chose to interact or communicate with, i.e. spoken language and written language but also gesture and facial expression, sexuality and so on. All of which have gone long roads to be finally formed as they are now, in all of the existing countries and cultures and subcultures within these countries. And no country is any better than the other countries in this aspect, as we are all human.

Building up from language, both spoken and written, we develop self-awareness and we formulate our view on the world, existence and such, aka religion. But religion is also politics and economy. Religion was always thought to be one of the first economies in the world of human beings. Now that we have culture formed from politics, economy, language, both written and spoken, and knowledge we build up through whatever means that we have, for example schools, we form cultures. Building up knowledge requires at least, apart from religious believes, philosophy and later on science. For this, we require schools or at least people who can bring knowledge into the people of one cultural believe.

Yet, culture is always in coexistence with religion, which in fact is not only part of our culture but also a subculture in that it is also economically sound in itself and scientifically sound, at least in its own definition.

And this subculture was long ago being deprived of its right to coexist in politics of societies, at least in Europe, and even in Italy where we have the Vatican, being its own state in a state, having its own cultural believes and politics and so on.

If you look at American culture, you should always remember where your origin lies with. And this is, in fact, Europe and (forcedly) Africa and India and Asia in general. Yet, since the earliest 19th century we have, after throwing religion out of our political systems, a growing influence of the growing industry, industrialization that is and economies beforehand since the middle ages. And with industrialization we have ever growing communities of subcultures, i.e. companies, that in turn had their influence on the people they gave and give jobs to and, of course they had their influence on the nations in that they were initially located.

In Europe, before becoming democratic and all, we had great wars of nations and great wars inbetween national borders, for example France and Germany, but also England and Ireland, which is until now a typical conflict of how it should not be done, at least in terms of (forced) cultural assimilation.

Now, looking into the past, we can consider the relative now and we see America, being an assortment of all the cultures in the world, even that of the native Americans, however their culture is being subdued - whilst their cultural believes are far more superior than for example that of the German or French or English people as they are much closer to nature than we have been since the early days before Roman invasion. Equally to that the Indian people and the people who believe in Buddhism all over the world. Their culture did know of religion and with it economy, as religious leadership is always accompanied by making a living from thinking about the state of society and a view of the world and universe in general. In Buddhism and Hinduism we find that these people are beggars and they reject economy. In Christianity and Judaism we find that we care for economy so much, we even drove out religion from our social-political arrangement called nations, and we invited pure economy and beforehand science, to be a replacement of religion in the first place. Considering always that religion is both regulation of social interaction and pseudo-scientific views of the universe and world that we see and believe in.

Seeing America now, I can see that America a long time ago has not only invited religion into politics once again but also pure economy, the people get left behind. They either have to believe in religious non-facts or scientific or technological (non-)facts being harvested by pure economy. And all the people still strive to keep their true nature and culture, in all terms. Yet, they are also depending on the system that feeds them, and this is politics, religion and economy, along with it science and derived from that technology. Philosophy is somewhere along that way too, being a preliminary of modern science. And, believe or not, most of it had its origins in ancient and semi-modern and modern Europe, Asia and the Arabian countries and last but not least had also their origin in ancient Africa a long time ago.

Then, at first, Europeans decided to enter the land of America, and I believe that you know your history and where you initially came from and what drove people to that now land of yours. And you also know what it did cost the aborigin people of your land to allow Europeans to take over the land in the first place. John Locke was for example one person who did justify taking over the lands of and committing a genocide then on the Native American people by stating that it was all ok in that they, the Native American people, didn't "care for" nor own the the land, at least they did not make any claims on owning that land. And by this, Europeans decided that it was a pleasure for their god by killing and taking over the land from people who did not make any claims whatsoever. They were even considered beasts and non-human. This is culture, this is religion, this is economy and this is also fascism and racism, yes, and we are trying to overcome these limitations of our own structure by becoming multi-cultural and there is, in general, nothing bad to it as long as the diversity of that multi-culture is being preserved and not being subdued. Of course, that is what culture and religion was all about, ever. Identifying some subculture or diverse culture and making that a part of one's culture by either (forced) assimilation or near total destruction. Hey, don't delete, I don't mean any offense, this is absolutely impartial and neutral, just a reconnaissance of what happened in the reflection of for example World War II and all previous wars, along with industrialization and other genocides that took place a long time ago.

And, now that industry has taken over the role of the main economy in one's state, we also find that these great industries are also trying to get into politics by inducing force on politicians, either by paying them unjustified sums of money or financing their holidays, at least here in Europe especially more so in Germany. I don't know how this behaves in America but, considering that we have the same origins, I reckon that it is nearly the same.

In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, I also find that industry has developed their own subculture, with individual industrial branches having developed their own cultures, along with language, both spoken and written, economic behaviour and economic goals, science, politics and last but not least religious believes derived from the former or being the foundation of these fields of culture.

Having said that, we find that America is more or less thirty years ahead of, for example, the old countries like, for example, France, England, Spain, Germany, Italy and so on. In all of these now multi-cultural countries we also find that, besides that people always try to remember and somehow "worship" their origins by praising their own subculture, yet they have to adopt the leading culture of a nation, in this case the culture which all of the people in a country or nation can practice or at least that which the current regime declared as the leading culture of that nation or country and to which all of the people subsequently have to arrange themselves with.

Here, at least in Germany, as this is the place where I was born and live in, I find that we are building up an industrial culture in that it not also replaces religious believes by building up a believe in technology and advancement of technology in the short or long run, but also by corrupting our politians to finally take over or at least control the legislative and the executive.

And, considering World War II we also find that the economy finally drove the people to that state, and nearly all of the world into that state of frenzy. Americans even threw the bomb twice. And, yes, we eradicated nearly 50 million people. And all of this is culture however beastly and hideous it seems or becomes. And yes, I am more leftist than for example Ghandi or for example Nelson Mandela and even Karl Marx.

From then on, industry took a great part in our society. Beforehand, industry also took a great part in your country, that is America. As such we can say, that industrial culture is finally taking over the grown and developed culture of society, and with industry or economy being a direct descendant of religion, we find also that industry is trying to keep us unenlightened in order to make us consume what we believe in but not that we think and know is the best for us.

As such, we find that industrial culture is the leading culture of most of the western countries. Along with it goes worshipping of technology and science, with technology being the appliance of science. And economy being one field of todays sciences.

So we speak of a culture here, industrial culture that is, taking over all of our, even that of you Americans, now and in the end sub-cultures. And this is what I meant in the first place, but I didn't make myself clear enough.

As for cultural borrowing, I rather believe that it is either forced assimilation or mimicry in order to become one with the leading culture, at least what is believed to be the leading culture. For now this is the American culture, or unculture as I previously stated, as it is an industrial culture. And we are in no way better than that, believe me.

As for need, you can always install a need into people, whether or not there was one before. This is marketing, you know that, don't you? And even religious believers get marketed from time to time, especially now that we finally find that also here in Germany we will or we have TV preachers. It is also a long time institution on one our of main channels, called the "Word on Sunday", and they get since then [when?] paid for that indirectly.

As for cultural development over the years from the beginnings of being hunters and gatherers, also developing first signs of religion, art, speech and symbols for writing and art, utilizing stones or wood to craft tools and weapons and art, onwards to our now nearly post-industrial age, we find that only the means but not the why's and how's have changed. In the beginning there was only the need of survival, later on there was the need for expression, introspection, self-reflection, and finally industrialization by making the manufacturers of semi-required tools and art and other types of goods a leading sub-culture in all of our countries. And now, we find that we have the need for boredom and the need for leisure and the need for insecurity and the need for indecision and the need for ever increasing rates of consummation being installed as our primary needs, along with the needs of technologic advancement and so on.

And yes, I don't believe that there is an American culture, except its multi-culture. The other culture is that of the industry or economy becoming a or being the leading culture of that land and of all the other western countries, even those countries that are now in chaos like for example Russia and the other countries of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, even Africa *). Not to mention Australia but this is another topic requiring more explicit discussion. And yes, before industrial culture can take overhand, it must make amends to the existing cultures. Yet, in a multi-culture, these amends are too many so that the new leading culture will throw all of the existing culture overboard, it has to as it cannot integrate the existing cultures that well. So the existing multi-culture must finally become a sub-culture. And, considering other countries, for example the Kurds in Iraq or Iran or Turkey, we find that it also has to be oppressed.

And this is where we are all heading to. America is here and we all are America, you know?

-- CarstenKlein


Further above there was talk on American Popular Cultural Assumption Discussion. I believe that the people in the world judge America as a whole social body, not by their multi-cultureness but rather by their culture by which they interact with other states or nations or countries, even regions in the world. And, judging by their past interactions, the judgment on American culture has to be bad, and cannot be good. So, the American people, and I know that there a lot who feel responsible for the world, for their country, for nature and all, have to express themselves more clearly than just delegating their cultural intent to their next political leadership. As we all have to in our own countries as well, I believe. For what we find now is not only global cultural revolution but also revolution in the economies and science and religion and so on, all of which being inherent parts of our multi-cultures.

-- CarstenKlein

If you actually directly answered what I said, rather than simply producing a new rant that reiterated your "position", it was hard to tell amidst the sheer volume of your post.

Well, I did not want to reiterate, rather I wanted to show that your opinion on me being "uninformed" as to cultural anthropology is not exactly true, yet you are right in that I am not an expert and that I, we, are still learning. And, yes I directly referred to your saying and answering that as well, as well as being still on the course of the subject - yet I did not wanted it to become chatty as that is clearly against the guidelines set forth by this wiki. And, I also clearly stated that we do not operate from higher level grounds of morality or ethics any longer, as we clearly adopted to the American cultural believes a long time ago. It is all in there, along with additional information and believes that I would like to share with you and also hear your extensive opinions as well, especially in the global context in that we all now live in. And, please, don't call it ranting, as that clearly objects to my intelligence and that of others who like or require to express themselves more lengthy and thus less ambiguitive. Besides, it could well be a start for thinking into everything again from the beginning, making this subject more worthwile to readers. Yet, this should be done by a native speaker so as to remove any errors and mistakes from both syntax and grammar. And, assumptions on current American culture should always also contain a bit of historical round-up in order to integrate the subject more smoothly with the overall wiki. At least in my believe and opinion. -- CarstenKlein

The word "rant" isn't particularly polite, but it doesn't insult intelligence. FYI here's a terse definition from www.m-w.com (a better definition could be found in an unabridged dictionary, but this isn't a bad start:

 1 : to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
 2 : to scold vehemently
 transitive senses : to utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion
You didn't sound very "excited", and only "vehement" in a few places, but nonetheless it's not uncommon to call an overly long bombastic criticism a "rant".

Regardless of that, it really was much too long, especially because the focus kept shifting. I feel like I'd need to read it 5 more times, slowly, to be sure I knew exactly what you were saying, and that even then I'd need to ask a lot of questions to clarify. I realize that it's difficult and time-consuming to write perfectly clearly and tersely, but it's certainly worthwhile, because otherwise you might lose your audience altogether, and what's the point of writing something if it won't be read?

''Yes, you are right, however, after reading through the other participant's contributions to this topic, I felt that it required some steering up. And then, after that it has heated up enough so that we can come to a conclusion and make this subject more like a definition or something like that. This also includes the past, as that is from which we derive our present and future. And, only thinking in America only terms is clearly not satisfying anymore in a global world. Especially when considering that American culture made its way throughout nearly all of the cultures we see in the developing and developed worlds. And yes, it was very comprimated as to not write a whole book on the topic and thus lengthen the already lengthy contribution to this topic. If I find time, I will reiterate once more and make more clear my point of view on the American culture, especially with above context in which it expands and also replaces existing cultures in the world. And, this is only natural, therefore there is no judgement here nor condemnation nor criticism. The only criticism that I could find is that Americans need to make sure that they understand what they are about to do very well. If you look into the world, you know what I mean by that.'' -- CarstenKlein

I think this whole argument stems from a misunderstanding, due to the fact that English is not Carsten's first language. Where he says unculture, I think he means MonoCulture?, and where he says Industrial Culture, I think he means ConsumerCulture driven by corporations. Please comment if you think this is a fair discription Carsten. Also note, to call someone "uncultured" is an insult in any form of English, and I think your first post was deleted because that was how it was interperated. -- Andrew Schroeder


OK I'll admit it - I was watching Fox News. Two things - First - I have seen it spelt as Faux News - What is Faux in American? Second - Greta Van Susteren - Did they choose her speaking voice to discourage us foreigners from hearing her local opinions? Or is her speaking voice hunky-dory over there?

'Hm, first off, I don't know who Greta Van Susteren is, and second, Faux means something that went wrong as in the french "faux pas", which means that you did something utterly wrong like saying some words in a context where these words are meant as a personal affront or something like that. And, thanks for the admittance, badly needed it, some way or the other.'

[Not exactly, there's more nuance than that. "Faux" is "false" in French, "faux pas" means "a false step" in French, which yes, metaphorically means a mistake. I'm 90% sure that in French, it can also mean simply a literal mistep with one's feet. In English, "faux" as borrowed from French means "fake" or "imitation" more than it means exactly "false", so "Faux News" would mean "Fake News" as opposed to the real true news. That's not so different from translating it as "False News", but the latter isn't as idiomatic a translation, even though it's quite similar.]

[I thought Greta van Sustern was on CNN? And on international versions of CNN? Not that I care...why are you guys talking about this, anyway? :-) ]

Somebody was recalling their favorite Johny Carson moments on a nostalgia TV show. On one of the early episodes that were live, a WW-I ace came on as a guest. He was telling a war story, and said something like, "And then one of those fokkers came right at me; I swung around and was determined to blast the fokker...". Johny was going crazy signaling for a commercial break. After seeing Johny's expression, the guest clarified that "fokker" was a kind of German plane. (Unfortunately, I think they said it was a time before they taped the show. I'd love to see Johny's expression.)

Interesting. I told this same story, but as I heard it, it was Johnny who was clarifying what "fokkers" were, when the guest (who may have been a WWII pilot) said "Yeah, but them fokkers were flying Messerschmits!"
There is discussion at the moment about a page called TheRedHeadedTyrant?, which is discussing the politics of a TV show in (I assume) the USA. The following dialogue has taken place.

Also I have NotTheFoggiestIdeaWhatIsBeingTalkedAbout? (AmericanCulturalAssumption?). I would welcome comments as to whether I am being unreasonable.

I think you're being perfectly reasonable. Given the global nature of the Internet -- which renders the geographical coordinates of this Web site irrelevant and permits readership from anywhere on the planet -- I think individuals making obvious references to regional culture (such as television shows) should at least make an effort to explain them so that readers from any country can understand.

Isn't it somewhat patronizing to imply that individuals from another region are grossly ignorant of American culture and customs?

Gross ignorance of culture and customs, perhaps. However, I don't think it's patronising to assume that individuals from another region will be unfamiliar with regional television shows (a page on one of these is what spawned this discussion) that are not in wide syndication, and a bit of explanation or an external link or two is a perfectly reasonable way to set the context. It's perhaps a touch of American arrogance to assume that non-Americans will be more familiar with specific American culture than any other, especially on an Internet increasingly populated with a far Eastern readership.

I think if I wanted to discuss something of particular interest in Birmingham U.K. where I have lived for nearly 40 years, I would give some introduction rather than assume familiarity. To give a current example, Kraft are making a revised bid for Cadbury today. That has a particular resonance here in Birmingham, which even has a Cadbury visitor centre (Cadbury World). A whole article could (and probably will) be written to explain the implications. Some people would know about it, but most would not. -- JohnFletcher 20100119

You will find that most other pages having to do with TV shows also do not have such explanations. The page is in compliance with others in its class, but also it is a page that has to do both with programmers and behavior, and how not to ruin one's career. This complaint here is one of WikiPuppy like display, running around screaming and trying to gather support for something that is a personal issue, rather then any sort of violation. There is no reason why this had to leave the page it was on.

I am seeking a concensus on whether I am being reasonable. I am not particularly wanting an argument, as you are entitled to a point of view. At the moment you are mainly doing DisagreeByDeleting and ArguingByDisparagement by calling me a WikiPuppy when you know I am an experienced person here. I will not contribute for 24 hours and see what happens.
See also TheThreeWorlds CulturalAssumptions MinimumWage
CategoryCulture CategoryDiscussion

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