Originally Posted by lio45
I had the equivalent of BIMBAM's anecdote happen to me with a Dutch girl I became friends with while I was over in Europe -- she knew I was Canadian, and after a couple days, something came up that had me pointing out English wasn't my first language, and she was surprised, I was like "wtf? didn't you pick up from my accent that I wasn't a native Anglo?" and she was like "of course not, I had assumed your accent was just a perfectly ordinary Canadian accent".
To some degree, I think we're all kind of "slaves" to our frame of reference. That girl was probably imagining Canadians and their accents in Dutch terms. Which is why she jumped to that conclusion about your accent.
For fun, I have asked a bunch of Belgians whether their royal family is Wallon or Flemish. The answer (from all of them): neither, they're Belgian.
So my follow-up: yeah but, what language do they speak around the dinner table? say goodnight to to their kids in? The answer (from all of them again): both.
I've also met Brazilians with names like Kunstman (very obviously German in this case), but they've been very adamant that Kunstman was not a German but rather a wholly Brazilian name. Which I guess it is in their case...
When younger I also made Swiss people scratch their heads when I kind of alluded to the fact that a Pierre Dupont in Geneva was of French ethnic origin, Hans Schmidt in Zurich was of German origin and Luigi Antonelli in Lugano was of Italian origin... I guess ethnic origin is an unknown concept to them. Or at least, they conflate citizenship with ethnic origin.