teisipäev, aprill 13, 2010

välismaa mees

Estonian manhood seems to be going through a crisis. Postimees journalism godfather Priit Pullerits polishes off article after article about the perils of eesti naised falling into the malevolent clutches of foreign men; columnist Jüri Pino compares Estonian men in the magazine Eesti Naine to pigs "or some other lower life form"; and the cover of Õhtuleht greeted me the other day with one question: Eesti mehed on jobud?

I really wish I could define for you the meaning of the word jobu. At first I took it to be a relative of the word joodik -- a drunk. But a jobu is not merely a drunk. A jobu is something different, something more profound. My favorite online English-Estonian dictionary equates jobu with the following words: berk, birdbrain, blithering idiot, bumpkin, daff, jerk, prat, sucker, turkey, and zombie(!) And this is how Estonian men see themselves. I've even heard talk that there is a Jobu magazine in development.

The arch nemesis of these jobud is the välismaa mees -- the foreign man. He's everything the Estonian man is not, allegedly wealthy, supposedly slick; a smooth operator. In Pino's piece, the Estonian man actually goes so far as to give up smoking so that he can compete with this imaginary foreign man because välismaa mees doesn't smoke. As much as it irks me, I find this wallowing in the meandering river of disillusionment necessary for Estonian guys, because if the specter of välismaa mees can get them to eat right and quit smoking, if their foreign foe can help them lift their chin above the bar to get the average Estonian male's life expectancy to inch over 70 years, then I'll be more than happy to play the villain. Competition is good.

Still, there are elements of the eesti mees/välismaa mees discourse that are unsettling. One is that by marrying foreigners, Estonian women are somehow betraying their country. There are so few Estonians, this argument goes. Estonians need to make more of them, together, in Estonia. By partnering with the dread välismaa mees, the pure bloodstream of the Estonians is tainted, polluted. The future of the nation is flushed down the toilet the second that välismaa sperm connects with eestimaa egg.

This is, of course, complete jama. Biological diversity should be welcomed, not shunned. National homogeneity is wonderful if you want to study rare genetic diseases across generations in one population, but it's not going to make your population any more flexible, healthy, or open to the world. And the great tragedy of the slow death of the "pure" Estonian, is that, as Rein Taagepera describes the local attitude, "There are really only two pure Estonians in Estonia, me and you, and I'm not so sure about you." Scratch an Estonian and you'll find a Swede or a Finn or a Russian or a Pole or a Latvian or a German or an Ingrian or a Seto. I've even heard there is an abundance of brunettes on Saaremaa because some Portuguese sailors once docked at Kuressaare and went on a spree. So you can mix your purity in a bowl with some kama and eat it. The well was contaminated long before I showed up.

Eesti mees. Välismaa mees. The two closest "minorities" in my neighborhood aren't Russian or Ukrainian or Finnish. One's a Swede, the other is Latvian. The Swede is a few years older than me and, naturally, married to an Estonian lady. He likes Depeche Mode and good restaurants. Svensson's cool and well traveled; a dormant rock star who pays the bills by working for a local Swedish call center where his language skills are put to good use by arranging for little old ladies in Umeå to get a state-subsidized ride to the hospital. See, that's Scandinavian solidarity for you. Old-fashioned Swedish help to self help. The only problem with Estonia, we lament, is that there is no Polarbröd, a tasty baked good from northern Rootsi. There is a spark of hope that by merely mentioning its absence on this blog, Selver might start importing it. Keep your fingers crossed.

The Latvian is the pioneer foreigner here. Born in Riga, this septuagenarian rides about the neighborhood on an old bike, wearing a Parisian black beret. Like all of us, he's also married to an Estonian lady and when I yell out "Sveiks!" to the Latvian, he usually responds to me in Estonian. Still, the Latvian is different -- he's friendly and outgoing, easily the friendliest in the 'hood. My daughter calls him "uncle." Sometimes when I see the Latvian grandpa riding his bike with his black beret, I feel as if the spirit of Old Europe has passed me by. We're all here in this neighborhood, välismaa mehed, Old Europe and New Europe and the New World. I wonder if anyone notices us.

Sometimes at the supermarket I do cross paths with tough-looking locals with tattoos and t-shirts that are covered with Germanic or Scandinavian imagery. Maybe it's a cross or Thor's hammer. I can't always tell. These gentlemen don't look especially happy as they buy their lunch of beer and cigarettes, but they never seem to pay me any mind, and they are by no means your standard issue eesti mees.

In reality, most Estonian guys are pretty helpful and I think we foreigners have a lot to learn from our Estonian counterparts. These men are our partners' fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, and co-workers. They inform what is to be expected of us, and one can imagine the sharp pangs of shame the välismaa mees feels when his eesti naine discovers that, unlike most Estonian men, he a) doesn't know how to build his own house; and b) doesn't particularly feel the need to do so. Or so it seems. Because as the time a välismaa mees spends in Estonia increases, the probabilty of him becoming involved in a joyously miserable construction project approaches 1.

**

A Note: when I started working on this post five days ago, Lech Kaczynski was still president of Poland. I cannot help but feel terrible about what has happened since. My condolences to the Kaczynski family, the families of all on that flight, and to the people of Poland.

80 kommentaari:

Myst ütles ...

There is indeed a large pinch of xenophobia in our national psyche. However, I don't think it's got a lot to do with preserving the purity of the race.. :) We know there is no such thing in Estonia. Me, I have a good dose of Russian in. How about you?

I think the xenophobia comes just from historical experience. When foreigners have come to these shores, they have taken things. Usually the whole country... So we "phobe" the "xeno". They're up to no good, we think.

It's probably objectively understandable, but... Very counter-productive to progress, this rut of xenophobia + nationalism that we're in. I've grown to hate that rut.

magister nyman ütles ...

Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your post. I think you are absolutely right, and men (and women) from different cultural backgrounds have a lot to learn from each other!

mari ütles ...

It's not really about preserving the purity of the race. It's more to do with fear of losing national identity - culture,language etc. Fear of losing the people who would understand you better and your history.

You can't really blame them for that. It's natural. Fact is that there's about 1 million or less Estonians living in Estonia at the moment. If you were British or Italian you would not understand this because there's so many of you and there's always been so many of you. No matter how many foreigners are coming to your country or how many locals will leave, you'll not be in the fear of losing your culture, language.

I think the bad attitude goes more to the women who deciding to also live abroad with her new välismaa mees. But of course you can't really blame these women also.

So it's difficult for all but I don't think you really can do anything about it. Only thing you can do is give them a bit time.

mari ütles ...

Just would like to add to my previous comment that I'm not saying it's great that people behaving this way but in the same time you must understand the issue a bit more rather than just bringing 'pure bloodstream' as an argument here.

Giustino ütles ...

I know plenty of Estonian women who have married foreigners, but I also know a lot of foreign women who have married Estonian men. I've met British, American, and Finnish women in Tartu who married Estonian guys. In fact, I'd love to see some Estonian woman lecture Estonian men about marrying foreign women. That would be hilarious.

Brüno ütles ...

I would want to feel sorry for the plight of estonian men, come up with a list of mitigating circumstances, explanations, and excuses, but I cannot. I cannot say that I like fellow estonian men. Because I don't. Moreover, I have, and continue to advise estonian women NOT to marry estonian men. Most of them are jobud.

I have my reasons.

Brüno ütles ...

I wish I could delete my angry outburst. I recently read a report on crimes committed by estonian men in other countries and then I saw a T6ehetk on www.reporter.ee with some wannabe kidnapper. I felt utterly disgusted. Hence the dark outlook on things.

In fact, puu could chime in here and tell us what estonian men really are worth. I humbly step aside.

Oop ütles ...

"Selver might start importing it" - I'd rather bet on Rimi, they belong to the Swedes as was beautifully demonstrated by their apt PR campaign lately.

About purity of the race: I've met people who truly believe that Estonians have been a genetically pure nation for 10,000 years. I was shocked, amazed, filled with the sense of wonder at my discovery. I hope to make an ethnographic paper on that. I can imagine the headlines: "A tribe of morons, unknown to the science until now, discovered somewhere in Balkantic States".

Besides, you shouldn't feel too special, singled out by Estonian xenophobia. Heck, we hate ourselves, too.

Vincent ütles ...

mari, you say:
"It's more to do with fear of losing national identity - culture,language etc. [...] there's about 1 million or less Estonians living in Estonia at the moment."

Actually quite recently there was a debate in France regarding national identity, with same type of fears about loosing it due to the immigration.

So it's not only because Estonia is small.

My opinion is it's silly to try to defend artificially national culture. If culture changes because of immigration, so be it! It's just natural, people have always moved around and cultures have evolved. It's a natural process of evolution.

That being said, I don't think Estonia has much to fear. Foreigners coming to live in Estonia will reinforce the country - and thus its culture - not weaken it.

Rainer ütles ...

Giustino, both Pullerits and Pino are considered to be something of a joke in the Estonian journalism. So don't take them and their rantings too seriously.

luize ütles ...

And please, PLEASE, do not say that Pullerits is journalism godfather. Ever. He is jobu too, ever so many reasons.

Evil Purc ütles ...

I don't mind when foreigners come live here and "contaminate the pure Estonian blood". It's good for population growth etc. There are way more women than men around anyway. But it's always a bit unpleasant to hear of people that are permanently leaving Estonia behind.

As for Pullerits and Pino, they seem to be projecting their own sense of self-worth to everybody else. People with low self-esteem can be so irritating sometimes with all the whining and wallowing in pity.

Myst ütles ...

My opinion is it's silly to try to defend artificially national culture. If culture changes because of immigration, so be it! It's just natural, people have always moved around and cultures have evolved. It's a natural process of evolution.


Exactly!

Evil Purc ütles ...

Besides, based on historical experience I doubt immigrants can ever be a danger to the Estonian identity. There is something so strong and resilient about this identity. In the long run everybody who is in the Estonian cultural sphere long enough turn into Estonians. I mean look around you, I don't see all the "master races" of Danes, Germans, Poles, Swedes around. What, did they all go back or something? No, they are just Estonian now. The Russians are a bit of a bigger bite to swallow, but eventually... It's amusing to see "pure" Estonians around with surnames deriving from ancient Polish or Russian noble families. Says it all really. =P

Martin-Éric ütles ...

The same silly discourse pops up every once in a while here in kuradi Soome.

What never ceases to amaze me is that nobody ever stops and thinks that a välismaalane might actually get around feeling so attached to his new homeland as to progressively forget the ancestral language and roots and wanna change citizenship, thus becoming the next generation of e.g. Baltic German who raised a finger to the Führer's order to return home and stayed to defend Eestimaa.

Giustino ütles ...

It's amusing to see "pure" Estonians around with surnames deriving from ancient Polish or Russian noble families. Says it all really.

You mean like Volkonski, Trubetsky, Manitski?

Evil Purc ütles ...

For instance. Or how about the von Staudens from Germany. Gustav Wilhelm von Stauden was a German nobleman who served in the Turkish war etc, but ended up in Estonia in the Atsekõndu manor. He lived and had children with Estonian women. His son Fritz already forgot the German language altogether and was famous for his traditional songs in Estonian. A complete transition in just one generation. =)

ants ütles ...

It seems to me like some Estonian brave ladys married välismaa mees and living abroad feel oneself a little puudutatud? Ehh!! Am I right Mari? But surely I read Giustinos article with great pleasure enjoying his warm humorous expressions.

Doris ütles ...

This post reminded me of a website that listed genetic percentages of what "material" a nation is really consiting of. Could't find that site again but here's one, daya might be a bit old, the post is from 2007:
http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showpost.php?p=7101689&postcount=111

anyways, no such thing as pure Estonian or any of that. Me, I happen to know that my great-grandmothers native language was Swedish, and somewhere further on along the tree there sould be some Polish blood. And those are only the ones I know for sure about.

PS. Pullerits on superjobu.

Doris ütles ...

*data not daya

Mingus ütles ...

I liked a recent comment that suggested that almost all forms of racism are scapegoatism. Don't like foreign men taking your women? They're evil, right? Maybe the problem is your own self-esteem, he says. Half a century of totalitarian rule has left people with a dearth of a sense of belonging, so they blame other people. It's not their fault either, but they certainly don't lift a finger to do anything about it. The first step would be identifying the problem, however, and I think that this can be greatly accelerated with the help of foreigners, with their/our outsiders' views.

I am in Estonia because of love...for my wife, children, culture and so on. I don't think Estonia needs protection by bald-shaven jobud. It needs more love.

-raul- ütles ...

Well "the pure Estonian" is just another Estonian national joke -- considering the plagues and wars this nation has gone through.

The magazine "Jobu" was a one time joke -- wrote a wiki article about it few days ago: http://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobu_%28lisaleht%29

Anyways, I guess You can consider youself also part of Estonian Jobus. Tere tulemast!

-raul- ütles ...

Oop wrote: Heck, we hate ourselves, too.

No, we are just self-ironic.

Brüno ütles ...

Struggling for "purity", at the grassroots level ...http://www.reporter.ee/2010/04/13/purtse-proua-kevadine-sport-on-valjaheite-aknast-heitmine/

Lingüista ütles ...

I wonder if foreign philo-Estonians like me have any role to play in the Estonian consciousness. My little experience from casually meeting Estonians abroad is that they are surprised beyond belief that someone might even know their land and where it is, let alone speak a little of their language.

All nations feel 'threatened' by foreign numbers -- and big nations too. Not only France; remember those people in the US who are worried that Whites will become a minority in 2050? There goes the American Dream!... And the Russians who worry about minority conspiracies by Finno-Ugrians or Tatars to deprive them of their heritage? Or of their Chinese neighbors -- 10 to every Russian, and increasing! -- who some day might decide it's a pity to leave Siberia so empty and undeveloped... Even in my native Brazil one does occasionally hear ramblings about "foreign interests" that leads to an increasing number of foreigners doing something threatening to our future existence (say, buying land in the Amazon -- what for??)

Of course, I for one wouldn't be against the Estonians concentrating on making more Estonians. Even with the help of as many välismaa mehed and naised as are willing to give a hand, so to speak, to the task. I really feel uneasy with the decreasing population stats; that looks to me like a more real threat to Estonia's future than foreigners who married locals.

-raul- ütles ...

> Struggling for "purity", at the
> grassroots level
> ...http://www.reporter.ee/2010/04/13/purtse-proua-kevadine-sport-on-valjaheite-aknast-heitmine/

Not the kind of waste I see around me. That's the waste I see -- http://nagi.ee/photos/kentaur/sets/258751/

Sven ütles ...

I'm a native born American of pure Estonian blood. At least I thought it was pure until I traced a bit of my genealogy. I didn't have to go back too far on my father's side in Hiiumaa to find a lot of Swede, or my mother's side in Narva to find a bit of Russian. I guess it's difficult to be sufficiently inbred to be considered "pure".

My parents emigrated as children before the war, then later met and married in New York City. They only spoke Estonian to each other when they didn't want the kids to know what they were saying. So unfortunately, I never picked up the language, aside from a few curse words and some culinary vocabulary. (Hard to find a good kotlet here in Oregon)

Thanks Justin. I really enjoy reading your blog. I'll be visiting Estonia for the first time ever this June, and your writing has given me a good feel for what I can expect.

Doug0212 ütles ...

Sven - My father emigrated after WWII and married my mother in Sioux Falls, S.D. so I was raised in a way that was similar to yours. I never learned the language either but, living in Chicago (where I was born) my parents would take me to the "Estonian House" on most weekends. The people were very friendly but I always felt like I was an outsider since I didn't speak the language. I wasn't really "Estonian".

A few years ago a distant cousin found me via the internet and we struck up an email relationship which eventually led to me visiting them in Estonia last August. That was my first trip since my father died in '79 so he never made it back. I've discovered a whole set of relatives that I never knew I had. My trip was only 5 days but it felt like a month and I got to see a lot of Estonia and met a lot of relatives. It was the best vacation of my life.

Hope you have a similar adventure when you go.

-raul- ütles ...

BTW it's such a pleasure to see Americans swearing in Estonian, saying kurat and jobukakk. At least Estonian language has some kind of future.

The Estonian slang dictionary says following:
jobuke ka jobi, jobukakk, jobu. Tüdrukute sõnavaras olevad hellitusnimetused rumalate, ent muidu üsna sümpaatsete poiste kohta.

jobuke ka jobi, jobukakk, jobu: Diminutive name in girls slang for silly, but quite lovable boys.

Doris ütles ...

-raul- : jobukakk, yes. That can be a term of semi-endearment. In that sense similar to sitavares :P

But jobu is almost always (in my experience at least) something akin to "moron" in English. You can soften it with the tone of voice but it's never really an endearment... It's more like... When you know someone well and don't want to insult them by saying they're loll nagu lauajalg, you say they're jobu.

Jobi is something else completely. Or at least... as far as I understand a jobi is a smoke, generally of the tobacco kind but sometimes implies also cannabis.

Myst ütles ...

Maybe slang has changed but in the 80s "jobi" was a slang word for semen. Calling someone "jobi" was just about the worst insult.

Evil Purc ütles ...

Actually, jobi is still extensively used as a word for semen.

Evil Purc ütles ...

Doris must have confused jobi with tobi. Tobi means a cigarette.

Hence:
Ma tahan tobi=yes.
Ma tahan jobi=no.

Doris ütles ...

tobi, yes, yes...

jobi... yes, I've heard the semen version too. But. I have this nephew and he and his friends always refer to "jobi tegema" which involves the bunch of them rummaging through pockets and heading for the door. Might be a local "bastardisation"...

Brüno ütles ...

The semen connection was always that the person has been "semened over". Maybe over time people have made the word less insulting for mainstream use, but jobu means "allalastu" or "kukk" in prison venacular as far as I know. It is very, very insulting. For years it made me raise my eyebrows to hear for example women use it. Very strange.

Sentieri di parole ütles ...

Well, a really good post, i have heard about this problem in Estonia.In my country there is a problem like this, but is not new for us.Italy is historically a place where many dominations led a "mix". Maybe this could seem something negative, we have instead a kind of "italianity" that is more powerful of national feeling for me. I think Estonia is a wonderful country, i think that the estonian SOUL is the most important thing.

Martasmimi ütles ...

I am not sure that this is exactly on topic but when I was a young girl my father who was 100% Italian and spoke only Italian up and until he went to public school here in New York said to me that one day the world would be a big mix of every race and we would all be light brown in color and speak one language..
He said that 55 years ago...

McMad ütles ...

Nothing more than "Grass is greener on the other side" Syndrome. Usually affects people with limited insight. And of course people who think that their failures (relationship- or otherwise) are the fault of external factors, not realizing that there is only one constant factor in all their failures: themselves.
By the way, i moved back home after 21 years abroad. There is no place like home.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

@martasmimi
Not possible, most people stay at home or in their country. Though migration is a factor.

Lennart Meri once said in Hamburg after being questioned about the fate of the Estonian language: He had no worries, there were never a time when Estonian was that much written (internet).
He worried more about the fate of English seperating in new sub languages worldwide that could not understand each other any longer.

-raul- ütles ...

Kurat võtaks, how can I teach Google proper Estonian? It should be "39 kommentaari" not "39 kommentaarid".

Doris ütles ...

Aww, McMad, bitter much?

in my case, I was very much aware that "normal" relationships would probably never work for me. I get spooked easily, so tend to 1) not accept date invitations 2) even if I do accept a date, probably not a second one. So - for me - Internet was the "safe environment" in which to get to know a person first. Unfortunately the average Estonian male's online persona is quite offputting. Plus, it's easier to put off the first face to face meeting if the other person is far enough away.

McMad ütles ...

LoL, Doris, talking about issues..
Bitter, not the least bit.
Dreamed about moving back to E for 7-8 years, finally did it. Couldnt be happier :)

Andres ütles ...

I think the issue here is being addressed from the wrong angle. Purity-shmurity. Nobody cares about that. Nobody also thinks that 100% women who marry foreign men are traitors.

The problem is that Estonian men tend to hate Estonian women who openly declare they despise Estonian men. There's a new trend amongst some Estonian women in my opinion. Women who are too weird/ugly/pretentious to get local guys but still blonde/slim enough to get foreign guys bored with fat British chicks or whatever. They tend to dismiss Estonian guys because they can't get them. And the next step is to lament Estonian men and blame them for all of their misery. Seriously uncool, ladies. So don't blame the Estonian Joe for giving the finger to a local ho trying to fish in some black d*ck...

Rainer ütles ...

Good many of those women actually marry foreign guys from developed countries for economic reasons, and then try to explain it away with theories of inherent inadequacy of the Estonian men. It makes them seem less like "hoes", they hope.
Let's be honest here - how many Estonian women actually marry guys from poorer countries?

Doris ütles ...

hey, I resemble that remark!

Richer country, maybe, but I earn more than he does. But he does treat me nice and he does most of the dishwashing.

Like I said, it's not really a case of "I hate Estonian men" it's more a case of I really need to not be pushed into things. I know myself, if I get pushed far enough, I will simply walk away. And that hurts people (including me). People are very different though, other women have other reasons :)

Lingüista ütles ...

Giustino says he met also many foreign women who married Estonian men. Is that also a familiar phenomenon? And the explanations you guys were concoting for Esto-women who are into foreign guys, do they also work for the Esto-boys who are into foreign girls?

I don't know--the attraction power of 'foreigners' can be felt in any culture. As a Brazilian, I remember thinking local girls were OK but foreign ones looked hotter -- till I found out the foreign guys thought Brazilian women were better. Hm! I guess whatever it is about the women (or men) in a given country that makes them uniquely attractive is exactly that which the opposite sex in the same country has grown used to, perhaps even sick and tired of--and which attracts people from other countries.

plasma-jack ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Inita ütles ...

I always say - Everyday grind is boring enough, why dull it further by marrying one of your own kind?

Giustino ütles ...

Giustino says he met also many foreign women who married Estonian men. Is that also a familiar phenomenon?

It's not uncommon but it's also not discussed as a trend in the press. Here is one of the most famous cases.

Kati ütles ...

I really do not understand the xenophobic note in this discourse that is represented here in some commentaries as well. If an Estonian woman marries an Estonian man, does that mean that she despises all foreign men? I do not think anybody would say so. So why is it that marrying a välismaa mees one is automatically supposed to despise Estonian men. Absurd. I personally think that life would have been much easier if I had found somebody from anywhere closer, so that our kids do not have to spend 24 hours at airports and planes to see their grandparents. But that did not happen.

Also - if Estonian men are jobu, then who are Estonian women who have raised them? An average Estonian "jobu" has a grandmother, mother, wife and female friends who all accept him. If men are jobu, so must be the women - or else they would demand something else from the men and make them change. Educate little boys differently etc.

Last but not least - if Pullerits looked into a mirror and thought he had to speak openly about what he saw there, what has this to do with the opinion of Estonian women?
Well, joking aside, I actually think that this xenophobic and even paranoid discourse is related to many complicated social issues, like consolidation of the social structure and reduced social mobility.

Inita ütles ...

"... complicated social issues, like consolidation of the social structure and reduced social mobility."

Thank you Kati. Beautifully said.

So all jobu's are in fact nothing less than victims of such circumstances.

Everybody is busy "keeping it real" in certain social stratus in Estonia and when somebody extracts himself from that particular layer and gains some traction mobility wise - label him traitor or an "Oreo." Since the jobu mentality or victimhood covers a large swath of the society, extracting him or herself often times involves leaving the country. Marriage being the mere vehicle.

佩昭彥怡 ütles ...

Of two evils choose the least.......................................................

martintg ütles ...

I wonder if the word "jobu" is derived from the English word "yobbo"?

Every nation has them, Estonia is no exception.

Myst ütles ...

I wonder if the word "jobu" is derived from the English word "yobbo"?

I think it's probably a variation on "tobu" - a fool. A variation inspired by certain Russian swearwords.

Lingüista ütles ...

You mean, Russian words like ? That I had not thought of. Interesting suggestion.

Kati, I think you're over-reacting. If there is a perceived tendency -- i.e. if the number of people marrying foreigners is higher than average and has been increasing, or it is perceived to be so (given higher visibility of foreigners, etc.), -- one is allowed to speculate. You can counter that this tendency doesn't exist, or that the numbers aren't what people think; but why assume that discussing this tendency would immediately imply (à la Pullerits) some sort of contempt for the locals?

The tendency could have some very simple explanations. Some factors may actually not even go deep into the social fabric. The mere fact that Western foreigners are now more easily availbe -- you can meet them more easily than you could 20 or 30 years ago -- may go a long ways towards explaning any perceived increase in the preference for foreigners.

Individual cases are individual cases, tendencies are tendencies. I don't think anybody here is suggesting that any individual person who fell in love with a foreigner is a traitor. Certainly Giustino is exactly making fun of such an immediate connection.

Lingüista ütles ...

I meant to say, to Myst, "Russian words like ёб?" -- sorry for the typo.

Myst ütles ...

Yes

Lingüista ütles ...

That's the one thing I hadn't thought of. Thanks, Myst. This does make the "semen" and "semened on" meanings above seem more logical now. (As you may guess by my screen name, I love word origins.)

Lingüista ütles ...

Actually, it seems now easier to me to explain "jobu" as simply a borrowing from Russian, without any Estonian roots -- "tobu" could simply be a similarly sounding word that helps make it pejorative, not a real source.

Such things happen. Here in the Netherlands, I am often surprised by how often Dutch people (especially young ones) use the English word "fucking" in the middle of Dutch sentences. Despite the existence of perfectly appropriate Dutch expletives. I suppose using foreign swearwords "softens" the blow a little bit and makes people giggle rather than feel ashamed and/or utterly offended.

Jim Hass ütles ...

Hey liguistica, watch your language. Isn't that a fighting word?

Giustino ütles ...

Can you really select your mate based on such preferences, I mean, really? I had girlfriends from similar socio-economic-ethnic backgrounds as me, but it didn't work out. I could have dated even more of them, and it would have probably turned out the same. Fate must play a role in such matters, though I admit, I am a bit of a fatalist.

Erik ütles ...

My parents both emigrated to the USA from Estonia in the 1940's. I was born in the USA, but brought up with a 1940's Estonian background. I so wanted to meet a nice Estonian Girl to marry some day, but ended up making a very big mistake, and married an American girl, and we both moved to Spain. Our beliefs clashed way too much, and the marriage was over before we could have kids. I felt so much more comfortable with Spaniards/Europeans than I did with Americans. Was still hoping to find a nice Estonian girl to marry, but, in the mid 1980's, not too many to be found outside of Estonia yet. I married a Spanish girl, and we have been together for over 25 years. Me with possible viking blood, and she with possible Moore blood... It's a daily battle of clashing horns and swords, but we love each other dearly. I am so happy I married a European! We have only one son, who was born in Germany, and the wife decided he would have an Estonian first, and middle name, to match his Estonian last name. We lived in Italy for a few years after Germany, and then moved to the USA. We so miss Europe, and look forward to every visit.

I was finally able to visit Estonia for the first time a year ago this month. I got to meet over 100 cousins, aunts, uncles, and even a step grand-mother! Sadly, I didn't get to meet 1 cousin being discussed here though (Priit Pullerits), so I am not able to chime in on him.

After visiting Estonia, I miss it a lot. It was everything I dreamed of. Am I sad I didn't marry an Estonian Girl? Not really. But I am glad I didn't marry another American again, that is for sure!

martintg ütles ...

Inita ütles...

I always say - Everyday grind is boring enough, why dull it further by marrying one of your own kind?


"May you live in interesting times" and "May you find what you are looking for" often referred to euphemistically as the Chinese curse. In fact the grass isn't really greener on the other side, it is just an illusion.

Brüno ütles ...

Social mobility as a concept has been somewhat shunned in Estonia historically. The term that illustrates this particular collective disdain is captured in a well known derogative "kadakasakslus."

Myst ütles ...

Social mobility as a concept has been somewhat shunned in Estonia historically. The term that illustrates this particular collective disdain is captured in a well known derogative "kadakasakslus."


I think "kadakasakslus" has always been more about denouncing one's ethnic background and trying to appear to be of some other ethnicity. You know, speaking Estonian like a German would, naming your plika Judith Bearnice instead of Kati, your boy Bruno Benno Bernhard instead of Andres. That sort of thing.

For the socially mobile, there's the same derogative as elsewhere in Europe: the nouveau riche, the "uusrikkad". It is funny though -- as if we could have any "vanarikkad"! Oh well, I guess change always meets resistance.

-----

Nice story, Erik!

Myst ütles ...

Speaking about the purity of race thing: it's actually interesting how happy people get when they do their genealogy and find out that one of their ancestors was, for instance, a bastard child of a baron. The joy of finding out you're not puhta mats. :D

There's a deep national inferiority complex there. Kadakasakslus is, of course, also a manifestation of that.

Andres ütles ...

Kadakasakslus has little to do with social mobility. As rightly suggested before, it is the act of trying to deny your descent because you think your kind is not worthy enough. And that should be despised because it shows your ideals are way off. Nobody thinks internationally famous Estonians are kadakainglased, but naming your child something awful because it's hip in some country on the other side of the world at the moment, is just dumb.

-raul- ütles ...

> The joy of finding out you're not puhta mats. :D

Sadly, I have to admit, that I'm not 100% pure mats. I don't even know who my grandfathers father was. Külajuttude järgi he was a German. One root of my tree was pretty local, it can be traced back to 1772 living under the same manor in Tartumaa, on root stems from Viljandimaa and one is kind of Setu-Russian.

By the way, one national oddity of Estonians is that they are heavy Geni.com users. As you can see there are some globally unknown persons among the most popular profiles of Geni (http://www.geni.com/popular) like: Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Ivo Linna, Evelin Ilves, Lydia Koidula, Mart Laar, Georg Ots, Maire Aunaste, Anne Reemann etc.

> There's a deep national inferiority complex there. Kadakasakslus is, of course, also a manifestation of that.

Nowadays there's something like kadaka-ameeriklus or amerikaniseerumine. I almost laughed my socks off, when one day along the street in small town of Estonia (with 15 000 inhabitants) came the little teenager clone of Paris Hilton, even had the same kind of accessory-pet.

-raul- ütles ...

More on jobu:

jobu ‹11› s. kõnek saamatu inimene, hädavares, luuser. See jobu ei saa ju millegagi hakkama. Sinusugusele jobule ei saa sellist ülesannet usaldada.

http://www.eki.ee/dict/ekss/index.cgi?Q=jobu&F=M

Sven ütles ...

Of the few Estonian words I picked up from relatives as a child, "kadakasakslus" is one I do remember. It's how my mom's parents, from Narva, referred to my dad's mother's family from Tallinn (who spoke German at home). I knew that the "saks" part of the word referred to German, but I never realized it was a derogatory term.

Brüno ütles ...

Haha. Color me "kadakajänki" for I speak English to my wife whose Estonian is too weak.

Giustino in turn must be a "kadakaeestlane" as he is valiantly attempting to tackle the ugri-mugri.

Giustino ütles ...

If you live in a house where people speak Estonian, then of course you learn it. How many times do you have to hear "tahan piima" before you understand the kid wants some milk!?

Lingüista ütles ...

Can you really select your mate based on such preferences, I mean, really? I had girlfriends from similar socio-economic-ethnic backgrounds as me, but it didn't work out.

I think it's a personal thing. I feel very much like you in this respect, had similar experiences, and ended up marrying a Russian. One of my Brazilian friends, however, could only see himself marrying another Brazilian -- foreigners were 'too strange'.

Some people travel abroad because they want to see the wide world, and see a lot to admire there. Others seem to travel abroad only to convince themselves that everything -- from healthcare to school system to food to bathroom toilets -- is better 'back home'. It's probably the same with partner choice.

Myst ütles ...

Giustino in turn must be a "kadakaeestlane" as he is valiantly attempting to tackle the ugri-mugri.

It's not like you become "kadaka-sth" as soon as you learn a new language. :)

-raul- ütles ...

Hey Justin-Giustino,

I'm doing a little research about You for the wiki article, can You help me out, by answering to few questions...

First, your own question as in http://www.citypaper.ee/interview_with_anne_applebaum/:
What are you doing living in Estonia?

When and where were You born?

How cam You like uphill skiing, considering that you weren't brought up in some nordic country like Norway or Estonia?

What do You do for a living?

How are Justin and Giustino related?

Will the "Minu Ameerika, 4" -- the US from the bystander's viewpoint -- be written by you?

Brüno ütles ...

Could it be that being "kadaka-something" is in fact nothing more than a person's attempt to improve him/herself?

As soon one moves from village to a city and starts wearing a clean footwear he/she risks of being labeled kadaka this or kadaka that.

And then people get over it, once they realize that the person really meant that.

Eduard Wiiralt for example was probably a "kadakaprantslane."

How do you reconcile all this? If you live in New York for example, would you name your son Peep? And by not doing so, are you now some sort of a ... I don't know. I am sure you all get the point.

Giustino ütles ...

Hi Raul, see below:

What are you doing living in Estonia?

My wife is Estonian. I am an American. We basically have to choose between those two countries. Right now, it's Estonia.

When and where were You born?

In 1979 in New York.

How cam You like uphill skiing, considering that you weren't brought up in some nordic country like Norway or Estonia?

My father is a skiing enthusiast and passed a love of this sport on to me. Sadly, I haven't been on skis in some time.

What do You do for a living?

I am a journalist.

How are Justin and Giustino related?

Giustino is a nickname and a blogger handle. It's an Italianization of my first name. My wife started to call me it early on and then my daughter started saying it too. People tend to misspell my real name. Every single day of my life, I get mail addressed to someone named "Justine." Giustino is a handy way of preventing that from happening, though people can't spell that either. I should have called myself Raul.

Will the "Minu Ameerika, 4" -- the US from the bystander's viewpoint -- be written by you?

I will play a larger role in the development of future Minu Ameerika books.

Andres ütles ...

Could it be that being "kadaka-something" is in fact nothing more than a person's attempt to improve him/herself?

No. "kadaka-something" is usually connected to ignorance. Lower-middle class parents naming their sons "Kevin" etc. There's nothing hip and metrosexual about it.

Miks ütles ...

My favourite blog post yet - very, very funny with a light touch for such a tricky subject. Keep 'em coming!

-raul- ütles ...

Thanks for the self-interview.