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What exactly does it mean to be European...
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Luciaviolin
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Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: 01-Nov-05 21:36  Reply with quote

Can somebody explain what exactly does it meen to be European or even Bohemian? It is certainly more that just growing up in a certain location and inheriting certain customs. It is a frame of mind, a way of thinking, isn't it? What exactly is it that makes us Europeans different from, let's say Americans?
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Ladis
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 215
Location: near Prague, Czech Rep.

PostPosted: 01-Nov-05 22:21  Reply with quote

For me, being an European or Czech means nothing since I do things in my way and don't care about others' opinions Smile
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Ziggles
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Joined: 30 Oct 2005
Posts: 4
Location: The United States

PostPosted: 02-Nov-05 18:41  Reply with quote

Ahoj Luciaviolin! Very Happy

Luciaviolin wrote:
It is a frame of mind, a way of thinking, isn't it?


As an American, I can't provide any meaningful insight into what it means to be "European," but I've certainly thought about "what it means" to be, well, anything.

Each of us is constantly engaged in a dance with our environment. The “thing” that is “us” moves through space and time, interacting with our environment at very deep levels, even if we are not conscious or aware of the complex mental processes occurring.

I’ve come to believe a great deal of who we “are” is based on fundamental, almost reflexive reactions to (and assumptions about) our environment. I’m struggling learning the tiny, tiny amount of the Czech language I do, because of basic, fundamental differences in the “mindset” of the language.

I am predisposed to “think” a certain way about something as fundamental as “words” that my brain short-circuits. Forget about trying to wrap my tongue around some of the phonemes!

Something that makes us such successful beings … the ability to reflexively and intuitively interact with our environment elegantly and with little or no conscious thought, becomes a problem when learning a new language because so many of our brain’s predisposed (and normally effective and efficient) methods of dealing with “reality” are fundamentally incorrect.

We have no working “mental map” and become lost.

Just some thoughts. Language acquisition is an amazing process, and I sincerely believe the languages we learn as children at some level shape our mental processes. I have a different “mindset” from you simply because my natal tongue is different from yours.

Ladis wrote:
For me, being a European or Czech means nothing since I do things in my way and don't care about others' opinions Smile


Trust me, Ladis, it means a great deal you are Czech. You can easily wrap your brain around word structures that drive my brain into fits! Shocked It has nothing to do with your conscious decisions to formulate opinions on your own, there are differences based on the fundamental ways your brain reflexively handles incoming information.

Just some rambling on culture, language acquisition, and mental processes. Sorry to hijack your thread Luciaviolin (if that happens).

týče se,
Ondro

P.S. Ladis, thanks for your many posts to date here on the boards. I’ve learned a great deal from your comments and input. Děkuji!
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Ladis
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Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 215
Location: near Prague, Czech Rep.

PostPosted: 02-Nov-05 21:09  Reply with quote

Ziggles wrote:
Trust me, Ladis, it means a great deal you are Czech. You can easily wrap your brain around word structures that drive my brain into fits!

If you take it as understanding a language - for me as the Czech, English has difficult parts, too Smile (e.g., pronunciation of "th" in "thirty" is problem for me Very Happy). However, English has a simpler system of words in sentences so it's easier for Czechs to learn English than vice versa about this (and other things).
Ziggles wrote:
P.S. Ladis, thanks for your many posts to date here on the boards. I’ve learned a great deal from your comments and input. Děkuji!

Thank you Razz I found this forum recently and like to go here, so why not to contribute Wink
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Luciaviolin
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Joined: 28 Oct 2005
Posts: 24
Location: Portland, Oregon

PostPosted: 02-Nov-05 22:00  Reply with quote

Ahoj Ziggles and Ladis,

You both gave me a lot of food for thought. It is much appreciated. I will try to expand a little bit on my original question (and let us see where it's going to go) Smile
I have pretty much ignored the Czech language when I got to the US. It seemed to me so awkward, overly complicated and totally unnecessary. (I know I am not making any friends here by saying that....but one has to be honest with onself and others Wink ).

After being here for over 10 years, I seemed to have gone full circle. I miss not being able to utter a coherent sentence in Czech (although thanks to this site I am getting better), I miss dreaming in Czech and I miss the Czech humor. But I also miss the Italian and French humor and Russian poetic tales.

These European things are very hard to come by here and those that are available are often ridiculed as silly and who knows what. Somehow many American people seem to have missed the point and it makes me feel sad. Crying or Very sad Our common experiences just can't be that different, can they? I am aware that humor is very hard to translate unless it is slapstick. But I don't think that the language barrier is all there is to it.
I really don't meen to sound critical and bash my American friends here. Very Happy
I am just really curious as to what it is .......... Confused

L
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rockinrobin
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Joined: 10 Sep 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Texas

PostPosted: 03-Nov-05 6:29  Reply with quote

Luciaviolin,

You pose a very good question. Aside from cultural differences (e.g. language, eating habits, formality of speech, etc.) there does seem to be a completely different mindset, but it is hard to put into words.

My Greek friends are outgoing, laid back and informal, completely different from my Czech friends who are reserved, quiet and formal. Yet, they share a similar outlook about life. They have mastered the ability to live simply but enjoyably. Although they all work hard, they do not live to work. They enjoy material possessions, but don't seem consumed by the need to have more.

When I think of a European, I think of someone who is cultured, educated, and family oriented with a strong sense of who they are and where they come from. They lead more balanced lives and just don't seem to be as uptight!

These are just my personal opinions and experiences. Generalizations can be misleading because there are Europeans who are shallow and materialistic, and there are Americans who are not (I am one of them!)
It will be interesting to see others' opinions.

Robin
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Ceit
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Joined: 08 Jul 2005
Posts: 185

PostPosted: 05-Nov-05 11:46  Reply with quote

If one were to listen to some European politians, being European apparently means being a capitalist white Christian. Fortunately, I think most people understand that nothing is that simple. It makes me wonder, though, how the European mindset will change in the near future, now that Europe is more a destination for immigrants than a source. Are Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners "real Europeans"? Are their children born in France, Spain or the UK "real Europeans"? Their grandchildren? There are plenty of culture clashes right now, but in the future (when things, hopefully, settle down) will people continue to think that skin color or religion necessarily prevent people from belonging to a particular country?
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Ceit
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Joined: 08 Jul 2005
Posts: 185

PostPosted: 15-Nov-05 13:56  Reply with quote

Newsweek has an interesting article about European identity. Here's the link from msn.com - http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10019771/site/newsweek/
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player1
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Joined: 09 Oct 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Brno

PostPosted: 16-Nov-05 15:24  Reply with quote

You cant compare being European to being American because Europe is a continent, America a country...you're not comparing like with like! Europe has different languages, currencies, governnments...America has one language, currency, leader, (brain cell? Twisted Evil )

Most people introduce themselves as coming from a certain country - i've yet to meet ANYONE who's described themselves as European...i mean, czechs, brits, germans, italians etc are all completely different and cannot be lumped into one group!

Maybe this notion of being european is more useful to others outside of europe who dont know enough about our continent to differentiate, preferring to lazily group us all together...like we europeans tend to do with africans!
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wissy
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Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Posts: 208
Location: Surrey, England

PostPosted: 17-Nov-05 9:52  Reply with quote

Totally agree with Player1. He has described my own views on the subject exactly.
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