Wednesday, October 04, 2006


A Quick Tangent


How Ian Became Vaguely Philosophical and Bored Everyone to Tears

So I'm not so sure I have such a strong sense of homeland. When I am out of the US for a while I do miss it, if only because I miss knowing how things work, how to approach situations, and well my friends. Mind you, right now I am all excited to be in Austria and speaking German again so all is well. What I am trying to say is that even when I miss the US I don't really think of the US as my homeland.

I think the US is tricky because pretty much in the country has roots elsewhere. No one is really American in the way someone is Japanese, Ethiopian, or German. There is always a connection to somewhere else if people don't choose to pursue it. You can be an American citizen, but ethnically you have to be something else. I have always had great respect for Americans who are heritage speakers of another language, because of the sense of connection they have to a different country. It's the same reason I respect the French Canadians and think that it is wonderful that Canada subsidizes cultural centers so that even third and fourth generation Canadians speak the languages of their forefathers.

I don't really speak the languages of any of my forefathers. You could say English as I am part of Catholic Northern Irish, but that was really an imposed foreign language no matter how dominant it may be today. Now I know all of my Italian ancestors spoke dialects, my Ukrainian Grandma speaks an old Western version of Ukrainian, but I would love that connection to a region! My mom has a semblance of that with Italian and I wish I did too.

What I am getting at, is its these places where I know I have roots that I think of as my homeland, granted its a very Romantic idea of 'homeland.' Though never having been to Ukraine, I feel a very strong connection and am very much a Ukrainian nationalist even though I only speak Russian. It is the same in Italy (though no one ever thinks I am Italian) and Switzerland. I would love to speak the dialects in the areas my family is from and where I still have relatives. Though dialect is often looked down upon, it is a sign of connection to a place, a sense of connection often lost in America, where fairly interchangeable suburbs take the place of ancestral villages.

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