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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 11:50 AM
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Basically Canadian

This thread is inspired by a guy I know from Buffalo. We talk hockey a lot, and he generally has the demeanour of someone from Southwestern Ontario. As such, and given my remove, I mentally categorise him as 'basically Canadian'.

It is also inspired by Scandinavia itself; when I moved to Denmark from Kosovo, I immediately noticed how familiar things felt. Conversation volumes, standing distances, subtle tones and inflections... it all seemed very Canadian.

That said, I was coming from Kosovo, which isn't at all like Canada. Now that I know Denmark and speak the language, I can report that Danes, while much more similar to Canadians than Albanians, are not really all that Canadian.

They are more direct, more brusque, and their social realm is more... teasing. Danes love a good burn. They are always burning each other and they go farther with it than Canadians would (with near-strangers, say, or at work).

They're just a little bit more rambunctious/outspoken on certain levels, in terms of their public life. Nothing huge, but noticeable.

Swedes are more like Canadians than Danes, but less sort of chummy. They have a bit of an hauteur sometimes, particularly in Stockholm. It's hard to put a finger on but it's there.

Norwegians are a lot like us.

Who do you think is basically Canadian?
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 12:16 PM
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Example on the Danish burns (this exchange happens in Danish, in English Danes seem milder):

[Man walks into office wearing brightly coloured shirt]

DISTANT DANISH COLLEAGUE: 'Wow that's quite a shirt!'

NON-DANISH SHIRT GUY: 'Oh, yeah, thanks'

DDC: 'Yes, I had one just like that when I was a baby'

NDSG: Weird shy laugh

DDC: 'You must have some game... my wife would never fuck me if I wore a shirt like that!'

I'm not totally sure the baby remark wouldn't happen in a Toronto office but the last part seems a bit much for Canadian worklife. There is this quality of not letting it go, of circling back on it that I notice here...
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 12:29 PM
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While trying to avoid reciting a litany of our stereotypes of mainlanders and just sticking to personal experience...

Social interactions are much more confined than I'm used to. You don't learn the cashier's life story, the cabbie stops trying to strike up conversation, you can sit alone at a cafe or club and never be invited to join a full table. You can be lonely and isolated in a way that simply isn't possible here. It may be superficial, but the feeling of it settles into your bones and becomes more influential over time. You don't feel like everyone is living on your lap and vice versa. You don't feel every person you meet is part of the same community.

Conversations and behaviours are more formal, distant. The waitress simply will not tell you to "Hurry up me love I've got other tables waiting." There are lots of exceptions - I went to wedding in Manitoba that was like a stand-up show, just the same as here and in all the best ways. But most of your daily experiences with people will be colder, transactional.

Thinking of things that actually are universally Canadian - I think we tolerate obscene nepotism and graft, but are genuinely shocked and unaccepting of bribery and more direct, on-the-street forms of corruption.

We queue politely.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 12:45 PM
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That raises a good point, of course. 'Canadian' isn't a monolith. When I say 'Canadian', it may not mean what you do when you say it. For me, I am really thinking of Anglos in inner Toronto and Halifax. For Newfoundlanders, it might mean 'mainlanders' and not oneself. Then there is the whole thing that the word was originally used to denote the French-speaking people of the Saint-Lawrence river valley and had nothing to do with people like me...

But still... we can toss this ball around a bit and be general. What people from other countries remind you of [your personal definition of] Canadian?
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 12:46 PM
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Unsurprisingly, those behaviours mentioned in your post, SHH, remind me of places like Cork.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 12:52 PM
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.....

Social interactions are much more confined than I'm used to. You don't learn the cashier's life story, the cabbie stops trying to strike up conversation, you can sit alone at a cafe or club and never be invited to join a full table. You can be lonely and isolated in a way that simply isn't possible here. It may be superficial, but the feeling of it settles into your bones and becomes more influential over time. You don't feel like everyone is living on your lap and vice versa. You don't feel every person you meet is part of the same community.

Conversations and behaviours are more formal, distant. The waitress simply will not tell you to "Hurry up me love I've got other tables waiting." There are lots of exceptions - I went to wedding in Manitoba that was like a stand-up show, just the same as here and in all the best ways. But most of your daily experiences with people will be colder, transactional.

.....
Sounds more or less like the differences one might find between city dwellers and small town/rural dwellers in Ontario. Not something unique to Canada, in my experience, although the over-arching "reserve" is basically Canadian (some exceptions apply).
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 1:04 PM
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But still... we can toss this ball around a bit and be general. What people from other countries remind you of [your personal definition of] Canadian?
Canada is a bit of an outlier in my experience. Jeddy1989 found the mainland similar to Prague in terms coldness of people, but also found Prague less predictable, angrier, developing world, etc. I think Minnesota is probably basically Canadian. The English have some similarities, especially in world view. It's sort of like Vienna is so much grander than Austria's size, there's a similar sort of self-importance for Canadians generally - especially given we could all be wiped off the earth tomorrow and there'd be little impact to what's left.

But Canada is definitely an outlier to me in terms of atmosphere. It's like KW thinking I'm just describing the urban/rural divide (I would @ you KW but I don't know how to quote two posts on my phone haha). I can't imagine that response from a non-Canadian. In most places I've been, such as Ireland, rambunctiousness and daily civic engagement - sense of place, or community, whatever you want to call it - gets stronger with increased population.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 1:14 PM
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I find Czechs more voluble and impassioned than us, but it does have that coldness. It's not Naples. I don't see 'developing world', though; Prague was a royal capital when Canada was lit by bonfires in the woods.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 1:22 PM
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Definitely not Naples. Jeddy1989 gets passionate with negativity if you bring up Naples (he hated it - it's still his go-to comparison for anything that's ugly or littered).
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 1:52 PM
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Canada is a bit of an outlier in my experience. Jeddy1989 found the mainland similar to Prague in terms coldness of people, but also found Prague less predictable, angrier, developing world, etc. I think Minnesota is probably basically Canadian. The English have some similarities, especially in world view. It's sort of like Vienna is so much grander than Austria's size, there's a similar sort of self-importance for Canadians generally - especially given we could all be wiped off the earth tomorrow and there'd be little impact to what's left. .
Good eye for subtlety there. Minnesotans tend to be a lot like Canadians. North Dakotans a lot less so... they generally identify strongly with the pioneer spirit, less government, more rugged individuality, etc., although the ones in the Red River Valley who Manitobans would likely be most familiar with probably have more in common with their Minnesotan neighbours than with their western ND compatriots. That said, border state neighbours are an easy answer given that they're literally almost Canadians but for a few miles of space. The harder challenge is finding the basically Canadians an ocean apart.

I guess my Canadianness is showing, but I have to admit I'd be annoyed at being the target of the Distant Danish Colleague. I'd probably play along but all the while I'd be thinking "what in the fuck is wrong with you"
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 2:16 PM
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Played in a hockey tournament in Minnesota growing up and I think they were more Canadian than us. I get the feeling that they are more receptive to conversations with strangers than us though. Like a blend of Southern hospitality in the great white north.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 2:27 PM
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[QUOTE=suburbanite;8310323]Played in a hockey tournament in Minnesota growing up and I think they were more Canadian than us. I get the feeling that they are more receptive to conversations with strangers than us though. Like a blend of Southern hospitality in the great white north.[/QUOTE]

The "instant besties" thing - it's basically American.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 2:32 PM
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The "instant besties" thing - it's basically American.
It's kind of funny how guarded Canadians can be. It's not uncommon to read complaints from people who moved to Winnipeg as adults about how hard it is to make friends here. I'd believe it... literally all of my closest friends are people I know from elementary school, high school or university (undergrad years only).

Although I guess NL is the big exception in that regard.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 2:51 PM
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It's a small sample size, but the few Norwegians who I went to school with seemed very similar to Canadians in terms of mannerisms, general interactions, etc. Sweden came across a bit more like Canada than Denmark, but not necessarily in a positive way (more reserved). I certainly enjoyed the latter a lot more, but the differences weren't huge. My girlfriend and I watched the Danish/Swedish crime drama "The Bridge" a while back and they touch on this a fair bit.

A similar observation about burns was actually relayed to me by a Polish guy who had lived in Copenhagen for around 7 years. Seems like something that would come across as extremely jarring at first if done outside your immediate friend group (lots of people do talk like that among friends). I could see the first part of kool's example happening with my coworkers but not the last bit.

Vermont felt very familiar to me when I was there last fall. The general values of residents seemed more inline with Canada as compared to neighbouring upstate New York or New Hampshire. Plus it lacked the somewhat uptight attitudes of other New England stages. Burlington wasn't really too far off from a larger Guelph or Peterborough (both midsize Ontario cities with a relatively large granola contingent) and interactions with people at bars and restaurants felt much more similar to what I'm used to here as compared to say, Chicago.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:10 PM
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In my very brief experience, Norwegians and Swedes are possibly even more guarded in certain social settings than Canadians. It would be very odd in Toronto to say, strike up an extended conversation at the bus stop. Although, on a Friday night at the bar, while you wouldn't go sit down and join another group's table uninvited, it's pretty common for groups of guys and girls to mingle and flirt pretty freely.

In contrast, I remember a Norwegian exchange student being dumbfounded when a guy she was talking to at a party at the end of the night said he thought she was beautiful and asked if she wanted to grab a drink sometime. In her words, someone would never be that abrupt in Norway. I don't know how you go about dating someone in Scandinavia then. It must be based largely on mutual friends and colleagues?

This is a very specific subset of social norms though. I think Americans and Canadians might actually be the odd ones out when it comes to modern hookup culture. Most Germans, and even Brits I've met traveling would probably align closer to the Scandinavian countries than us in that regard.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:19 PM
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Definitely not Naples. Jeddy1989 gets passionate with negativity if you bring up Naples (he hated it - it's still his go-to comparison for anything that's ugly or littered).
Reminds me of my dad's reaction upon visiting Italy for the first time as a traveling 20-years-old kid - "the place is one giant open air trash can". Sounds like their littering habits have not changed in ~45 years!

My French cousin (from an area where the old stock locals are somewhat Italianish in ancestry) might have that in her genes... I might have told that story already: I was in her car, had just finished a drink in a one time use cup and she noticed while driving that I was looking for a place to put my empty cup in her car, so she took it away from me saying "let me take care of it", and threw it out her window. I was speechless!!!

We argued about it and she said "don't worry about it, there are people paid to pick litter up here". Dead seriously.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:31 PM
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Sounds more or less like the differences one might find between city dwellers and small town/rural dwellers in Ontario. Not something unique to Canada, in my experience, although the over-arching "reserve" is basically Canadian (some exceptions apply).
While we are not like the Italians of course, I find Quebecers are a huge exception to the legendary Canadian "reserve" and the whole "sorry" thing.

Newfoundland is an exception to the "reserve" as well but perhaps not so much to the "sorry" thing.

Overall I find the dominant temperament quite similar over a huge swath of the country whether I am in Lower Sackville, NS, Belleville, ON, Saskatoon, SK or Kamloops, BC. It's actually quite remarkable when you consider the distances and how most people in these places have probably never been to at least two of the other regions I've mentioned.

Quebecers are pretty much in line with other Canadians though when it comes to general outlook on life such as minding one's own business (Canada is a huge MYOB country IMO), or the need for a balance between mercantile interests and having a healthy somewhat egalitarian society, etc. No area of Canada can truly be said to be predominantly dog-eat-dog in its mindset, for example. Not even Alberta!
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:42 PM
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In my very brief experience, Norwegians and Swedes are possibly even more guarded in certain social settings than Canadians. It would be very odd in Toronto to say, strike up an extended conversation at the bus stop. Although, on a Friday night at the bar, while you wouldn't go sit down and join another group's table uninvited, it's pretty common for groups of guys and girls to mingle and flirt pretty freely.

In contrast, I remember a Norwegian exchange student being dumbfounded when a guy she was talking to at a party at the end of the night said he thought she was beautiful and asked if she wanted to grab a drink sometime. In her words, someone would never be that abrupt in Norway. I don't know how you go about dating someone in Scandinavia then. It must be based largely on mutual friends and colleagues?

This is a very specific subset of social norms though. I think Americans and Canadians might actually be the odd ones out when it comes to modern hookup culture. Most Germans, and even Brits I've met traveling would probably align closer to the Scandinavian countries than us in that regard.
You've got me wondering whether that's why I tended to pull foreign when I went out in London (back in the day). The English I met always seemed harsh/blunt and/or snotty. Big contrast with the Scots, who are much more down to earth.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:44 PM
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You've got me wondering whether that's why I tended to pull foreign when I went out in London (back in the day). The English I met always seemed harsh/blunt and/or snotty. Big contrast with the Scots, who are much more down to earth.
The Scots and Northern English seemed much more open to me, when I could understand what they were saying.
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Old Posted Sep 11, 2018, 3:56 PM
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Example on the Danish burns (this exchange happens in Danish, in English Danes seem milder):

[Man walks into office wearing brightly coloured shirt]

DISTANT DANISH COLLEAGUE: 'Wow that's quite a shirt!'

NON-DANISH SHIRT GUY: 'Oh, yeah, thanks'

DDC: 'Yes, I had one just like that when I was a baby'

NDSG: Weird shy laugh

DDC: 'You must have some game... my wife would never fuck me if I wore a shirt like that!'

I'm not totally sure the baby remark wouldn't happen in a Toronto office but the last part seems a bit much for Canadian worklife. There is this quality of not letting it go, of circling back on it that I notice here...
I find that this off-colour candour is quite typical of societies where people have mostly lived amongst themselves for a fairly long time with little in terms of diversity influxes. I am aware that Denmark today is reasonably diverse but the time when even in Copenhagen it was mostly just all Danes living with other Danes with only a few straggler outsiders is still easily within living memory.

Cultures that have more of a historic relationship to diversity tend to be more likely to hold back a bit on this front. (Though they can be rambunctious in other ways it's true.)
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