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Posts: 1738/2365
(10-Feb-2005 at 12:29)


European resentment of all things American

another article on European politics.
this is really stupid, i hate to think that this might actually influence decision making. but i am fairly sure the underlying emotional currents do, and that's really frightening.
here goes:
Quote:
(Source: IHT, Letter from Europe, Thursday February 10 2005)

An American accent as professional liability

Thomas Fuller International Herald Tribune
Thursday, February 10, 2005


BRUSSELS Toomas-Henrik Ilves is a member of the European Parliament who happens to speak with a New Jersey accent.

Ilves spent his formative years in the United States and acquired a fluency in English that served him well for most of his diplomatic and political career, including a stint as foreign minister of his native Estonia.

But since being elected to the European Parliament in June, Ilves says, he has received suspicious looks from some of his European colleagues in Brussels.

"The curious thing is that it's assumed that I'm a hawk on Iraq just because I have this accent," Ilves said. "People say, 'Oh, so you don't support Bush?' Or, 'So you actually do think like a European?"'

Ann Mettler is the executive director of the Lisbon Council, a pressure group that studies ways to make Europe more economically competitive. She is German but spent five years in the United States and has something resembling an American accent, a way of speaking that engenders a mix of curiosity and hostility in Brussels these days, she says.

"There are many times when I hoped I had a different accent," she said. "This is the only way I know how to speak English. I can't help it. But it would really help me if I spoke the tortuous English that other people speak."

Brussels is a place where English has increasingly become the lingua franca, a shift from the earlier days of the European Union when press briefings, political consultations and conferences were held in French.

But these days in Brussels it matters what type of English you speak, according to those who, for reasons of education or because their parents once lived in United States, have acquired American accents.

They make up a tiny portion of the thousands of civil servants, diplomats and politicians who work in Brussels, but the fact that they report increasing levels of suspicion toward their accents seems to signal that the malaise between Americans and Europeans has gone personal.

A Hungarian civil servant who studied in New York and worked in Brussels says her colleagues derisively called her "the American." A Frenchwoman who grew up in the United States and now works in the Brussels bureaucracy says she switches to French to assert her European credentials.

"Europe is full of people who speak two languages without an accent in either one," said Ilves. "That's considered a plus. It's just that if you have an American accent, then there is this association.

"If someone has a prejudice against Americans, that's where you get a reaction."

This is the side of Brussels that President George W. Bush will probably not see when he visits later this month: the day-to-day resentment of things American, the slight frown at a dinner party when someone talks about European friendship with the United States, or the smirks at a gathering of European academics when comparisons are made with America.

People interviewed for this column describe it as subtle hostility, a minor annoyance.

It is probably just a footnote to the larger problems that the United States and Europe have encountered in recent years. But does the stigma of the American accent in Brussels and other places in Europe have consequences larger than just awkward moments and hostile looks?

America's desire to attract foreign students comes to mind: The decline in enrollment of foreign students in the United States has mainly been attributed to the tightening of immigration policies. But it is also possible that some students are staying away because the idea of traveling to America is looked down upon by their family and friends.

Not all Europeans with ties to the United States report encountering problems here. Ginte Damusis, the Lithuanian ambassador to NATO, whose family fled Nazi-occupied Europe and lived in the United States for several decades, says she gets compliments for her American-accented English.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm taken more seriously," she said. "I find it as an advantage."

Gijs de Vries, the European Union's antiterrorism coordinator, was born in New York - his father was a representative there for KLM, the Dutch airline - but the family moved back to Europe several years later. His birthplace, he said, has never been an issue. Then again de Vries does not speak with an American accent.

Europe and the United States may have drifted apart in cultural and political domains, de Vries said in a recent interview, but his day-to-day contact with American counterparts has not been affected.

"The fact that we raise our eyebrows mutually on either side of the Atlantic should not prevent us from continuing to have practical cooperation," he said.

Increased levels of human contact between the United States and Europe could help eliminate trans-Atlantic suspicions, he said.

"There are many European parliaments that could benefit today from more person-to-person contact across the Atlantic," he said.

Mettler says the hostility and suspicions she detects when she meets fellow Europeans is a recent thing, a sign of the times. She does not remember having problems with her accent the last time she lived in Brussels, in 1999.

But now, she says, she gets suspicious reactions "all the time."

"When you speak with an American accent there is a certain assumption," she said. "It's not well looked upon."

E-mail: [email protected]
i resent the fact that these people are deciding over policies in my name...
[watch them not care... ]
#1  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 13:02)


That's pathetic.. That's really pathetic. At a time and stage when the EU needs to be focussing on integrating its population and getting involved in the parts of internationalism it can actually affect, it's whining about American accents?

It's not even funny anymore. The EU and it's politicians seriously need to start getting over themselves!

Noble Lady Sarak ~~ King Was Throne Away
The most extragant idea that a politican can have is to believe that it is enough for a people to march into a foreign country, for that country to adopt its laws and constitution. No-one likes armed missionaries; and nature and prudence both teach us to repel armed missionaries as enemies.
~ Maximilien Robespierre; January 1792
#2  
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(Posted as Arbulus)
Posts: 241/289
(10-Feb-2005 at 13:12)
Quote:
Brussels is a place where English has increasingly become the lingua franca, a shift from the earlier days of the European Union when press briefings, political consultations and conferences were held in French.
is that so now?
oh wait, it isn't.
infact, that is such BS it instantly degrades the value of the entire article.

The EU has had English as the lingua franca for YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS. What's the last time you think the UK and Germany actually used French? Laughable!

Proud Member of the Lotus alliance, CanWe.
#3  
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Posts: 1739/2365
(10-Feb-2005 at 13:22)


and
Quote:
the earlier days of the European Union
were
Quote:
YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS
ago. so what's your point...?
#4  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 13:46)


this sucks

aside from the minor detail arbulus mentioned, the gist of the article is accurate

One one side its whiny european weaklings and at the other side its arrogant american rightwingers

both have stigmatized eachother and feel comfortable upholding these ideas. Mutual respect fades between individuals because of larger political transgressions.

The bulk of both peoples are just being childish little cunts, so to say, filled with prejudices, misconceptions and misplacement of responsibility, i.e. blaming one individual indirectly for the deeds of others.

No doubt Europeans will come here supporting the attitude of the EU and Americans will come here and flame us for it and start saying things about how they helped out in world war II

Then the topic will move on to Bush and his doings, and it will gradually and comfortly get off-topic until it dies out

Id like to see at least people reach a consensus here - europeans have over the years been getting annoyed with americans and vice versa, and this results in childish and ignorant situations such as described in the article. All parties are guilty, and you can just view this as a sign and confirmation that people suck. Which can be the conclusion of almost any discussion involving them.

"Observers worldwide have been expressing great pity for the people of Gaza [...] This pity may be a natural emotional reaction, yet it is unethical and immoral." - Adi Dvir, Ynetnews editor
#5  
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Old lmc
Posts: 826/1208
(10-Feb-2005 at 13:56)


Quote:
(Originally posted by Sarak)
That's pathetic.. That's really pathetic. At a time and stage when the EU needs to be focussing on integrating its population and getting involved in the parts of internationalism it can actually affect, it's whining about American accents?

It's not even funny anymore. The EU and it's politicians seriously need to start getting over themselves!
It's a bullshit article. From this response you'd excpect it was official EU policy to supress US accents! They may be a cause for curiosity and I really doubt much more. Ever hear a Frenchman with a cockney accent? It's hilarious.

Anyway, while it is possible that in certain paranoid individuals there may be real suspicion (it's not so long since electronic surveillance devices were discovered in EU buildings), I suspect either that most of the paranoia is the minds of those people bitching about it or else blown out of all proportion by the IHT for the sake of a story.

Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others.

Groucho Marx
http://tangenitaldrunkeness.blogspot...ac22c48044bdd8
#6  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 14:11)
Seems to be the equivalent to the "Freedom Fries" served in US congress.
#7  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 14:17)


Quote:
(Originally posted by lmc)

It's a bullshit article. From this response you'd excpect it was official EU policy to supress US accents! They may be a cause for curiosity and I really doubt much more. Ever hear a Frenchman with a cockney accent? It's hilarious.
That's not what i said and it's not what i think either. It's the underlying and quite widespread idea i have a problem with. It's the resentment and misjudgement of all things American, just as some people do vice-versa. That's what is so pathetic and wrong.

Noble Lady Sarak ~~ King Was Throne Away
The most extragant idea that a politican can have is to believe that it is enough for a people to march into a foreign country, for that country to adopt its laws and constitution. No-one likes armed missionaries; and nature and prudence both teach us to repel armed missionaries as enemies.
~ Maximilien Robespierre; January 1792
#8  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 14:36)


Europe has long struggled against American influence in their politics, it's not just because of Bush. For example, the US has the only fully-developed accounting system. Compared to the US system, the various European systems are at best 50 years behind, some are even worse. US CPA's are trying to make a workable international accounting code, but it's proven to be a pain, as European systems are usually much like the CAP that the US used to use, a system characterized by having virtually no uniformity, something essential to an accounting system. Why doesn't Europe just adopt a version of US Accounting, and save everyone a lot of headaches? Nationalism, that's why. They'd never use something dirty and American like that.

Sygnalor the Accountinator
Able to file 1040's faster than a speeding bullet
#9  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 15:22)
I always wondered why we have EU... For reasons such as these must be the answer.

Alot of the people in the EU organization are morons, very simple.

And sygnal, what? Is it even on topic?

May our future decisions give the future generations a better past than the one we have had
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(10-Feb-2005 at 20:16)


Quote:
(Originally posted by Sygnal)
Why doesn't Europe just adopt a version of US Accounting, and save everyone a lot of headaches? Nationalism, that's why. They'd never use something dirty and American like that.
i guess that's gonny happen when Americans start using the metric system...

lmc, i don't think the article meant to give the impression that it's official policy.
what it tried to show, imo, is how the wide-spread anti-Americanism amongst European "common people" (at least i can observe that where i live) also seeps into the European political establishment. and that's bad...
#11  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 21:00)


Well, considering that many europeans consider 51% of the americans to be out of their mind, I can see how its easy for politicians to adapt that attitude aswell.


"If guns kill people...Can I blame mispelled words on my pencil?
#12  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 21:02)


Quote:
That's what is so pathetic and wrong.
Pathetic, wrong, very common, not news and hardly worth starting a thread about!

Even within a small country like the UK there are certain regional accents with negative associations. I am sure that within the USA the situation is the same, so to find that in a multi-national organisation like the EU the same situation exists is no big deal.

Had it been found that nobody in the EU had any dislike of any accent at all...*that* would be news.
#13  
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(10-Feb-2005 at 22:20)


VoR, i beg your forgiveness for starting a thread about such an unworthy topic.
i shall forward my ideas for new threads to you from now on, so you can let me know whether it's a good enough and appropriate issue...

the issue at hand here is not just a dislike of any accent. if that were all, hell, i am guilty, the French sound horrible when they speak English with their accent, and so do we Germans too.

but the accent is, in this case, what those people think they can identify a mindset by. and that is what's wrong.
if i hear a horrible French accent, i don't accuse the person of being a neo-gaullist; but these people are immediately accused (not necessarily openly) of being not-as-good Europeans. and that is just not very becoming of top-level diplomats and officials.

you remember the Freedom Fries thing...? everybody was pointing out how wrong and stupid that was. i think it's only fair we look at ourselves as critically.
but since you don't find that important enough for a thread, let me apologise again and let you show the metaphorical door to this thread...

Last edited by Subterranean, 10-Feb-2005 at 22:21.
#14  
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(Posted as Lodewijk)
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(11-Feb-2005 at 07:55)


Um, I don't see what the issue is here? Europeans steroetype Americans. And Americans stereotype Europeans. What's new? You can't exactly stop people from stereotyping - if I hear someone speaking with a hick accent, then damn right I'm going to assume they're from way out where. It's inescapable. You can't, however, say that these politicians are necessarily acting on their preconception of Americans - I'm sure there are many religous politicians, for example, who stereotype atheists, and are still able to separate their job from their beliefs/ideas. There's no indication that members of the EU are allowing things like this to dictate anything meaningful.

And some people are going overboard here - EU and its politicians "get over themselves?" What the hell? There are a few random politicians who claim people have looked at them shiftily because of their accents - and that suddenly evinces a pervasive anti-American direction of the EU? No, not really. The article take the testimony of a few people, and then indulges in unsubstantiated extrapolation. I could at least understand an argument that there *is* a sociological transformation in Europe that is heading towards anti-Americanism, but none of that is there. It's a pretty dodgy article.
#15  
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(11-Feb-2005 at 14:43)


Even if the article is wrong or focuses on the wrong aspect of European anti-Americanism, (i don't see the relevance of accents myself) that doesn't make the stupidity displayed any less, well, stupid. Nor does is it make the existence of trans-Atlantic ignorance or mistrust any less stupid, no matter what "side" it comes from.

Like Sub said, the world derided the US when it brought out "freedom fries", quite rightly to. The world should do the same to the EU now.

Noble Lady Sarak ~~ King Was Throne Away
The most extragant idea that a politican can have is to believe that it is enough for a people to march into a foreign country, for that country to adopt its laws and constitution. No-one likes armed missionaries; and nature and prudence both teach us to repel armed missionaries as enemies.
~ Maximilien Robespierre; January 1792
#16  
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(11-Feb-2005 at 18:51)


Quote:
VoR, i beg your forgiveness for starting a thread about such an unworthy topic.
OK, you are forgiven.


Quote:
but the accent is, in this case, what those people think they can identify a mindset by. and that is what's wrong.
It is wrong, I agree with that completely. It is also universal - not just a Eurpopean/American thing. To try and turn it into an example of European anti-Americanism is just a poor attempt to make something out of nothing.
#17  
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(Posted as Lodewijk)
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(12-Feb-2005 at 06:17)


Quote:
The world should do the same to the EU now.
This is what I don't get. A few people are unnerved by American accents, and suddenly the EU as whole must be derided? Why? What has the EU as an organisation got to do with any of this, beyond the fact that some of the people discussed in the article belong to it? What was it - correlation does not equal causation. The EU isn't responsible for any of this, so there's no point in lambasting them.

And about the Freedom Fries, I agree, they were facetious. But I'm not going to condemn the US government for it - some idiot wants to call his French Fries as Freedom Fries, fine, all power to him. However, it has nothing to do with the US govt. - just as this has nothing to do with the EU.
#18  
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