reede, märts 15, 2013

oht on õhus

This weekend - Saturday - I will present/lecture/speak at the Estonian House in Stockholm. It's in honor of emakeelepäev (mother language day, in Estonia, language is feminine, but the country itself is masculine, isamaa, father land, national anthem - mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm, 'my fatherland, my happiness and joy ...') enough of that! The question put to me is "Is the Estonian language (and culture) in danger?" Oh, should I chucklechortle and say, "No, it's not, nothing to see here folks, now move along, Ansip's got it all taken care of ..." Or should I peddle negativity (decreasing population, emigration, naughty girls marrying foreign boys, russians, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!)

I'd argue -- to start -- that the language isn't in trouble, but the culture is, and the threat isn't from the East but the West, as American-style consumerism commands the adoption of America's commercial culture, right down to the fact that holidays never celebrated in this land have become Marketing Opportunities and I can now hear the Everly Brothers sing "Bye Bye Love" when I go shopping at the local home improvement store. And -- most cringeworthy -- I've heard tale of Esto teenagers who speak english to each other because it's like, just so cool, and that's how they speak on Jersey Shore (sort of).

To me, as an American, it's embarrassing. You are so ashamed of your language that you'd rather pretend to be Homo americanus (a nation of other people who abandoned their national identities in the pursuit of "fitting in" and "success")? If you're going to do that, you might as well leave Lasnamäe for Las Vegas ... Get a new more Hollywood last name too -- Sepp won't do, but SMITH! {and it means the same thing!}

Listen, I am as proud of Phil and Don Everly as any other American. Their music was/is great ["Wake up, little Susie, wake up ..."] but Estonia has its own Phil and Don Everlys. Be proud of them. Give them more airplay at the home improvement store ... they deserve it.

35 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

Oh, touchy subject :). I teach Estonian to my partner and thers couple more who have taken deeper interest in Estonia, it's language, cculture. And I'm your average Joe. So if I alone can get let's say 10 acquaintances interested, just imagine what not so average Joe can do? Nope, there's nothing wrong with language and culture, quite the opposite - it's booming. We have never had as many peopl who speak Estonian as second language as we have today. Clearly it's a sign of healthy and attractive condition of it.

I wouldn't worry too much about the American influence either. In past we have experienced Danish, Swedish, German, Russian, Prussian, you-name-it, exposure to Estonian culture and language (the signs of what can be seen/experienced/heard to day all around us) and in essence these influences have shaped us to what we are today. America is just gonna be another name in a very long list.

Only thing that irritates me though, is the fact that kids speak American English a lot nowadays. They've got all their pants and trousers, biscuits and cookies, mixed up. Hopefully they grow out of it and take more pride in speaking English the proper way. :) But then again, what do I know.

Temesta ütles ...

Cultures (especially major powerful cultures) influencing other cultures is something that has happened throughout all history. Sometimes cultures are completely erased, other times you get a hybrid.
Look for example at the old Lithuanian nobility that was completely Polonized by the sixteenth-seventeenth century. This happened without any force, just because Polish higher culture was so attractive. And still Lithuanian nationalists are very angry about this.
The same has happened within nations and countries through modernization and nationalism, where a standard language has replaced regional variants. Also in Estonia a lot of local culture was ´destroyed´ in this way.
In ´Baltic revolution´ from Anatol Lieven there´s this quote from Jaan Kaplinski who regrets how fast American culture has taken hold of Estonia after re-independence, while years of Soviet oppression could not impose Russian culture.
By the way, Russia has take some strong measures to counter Americanization:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/01/russian-politics

Marko ütles ...

Very true about Lithuania. Very same thing happened in Britain - for centuries upper classes were French speaking, and now nearly one third of modern English vocabulary is of French origin. It has only enriched the English language and culture, making it one of The most European country in Europe (in terms diversity and values) and it's language one of the most widely spoken across the globe (in many ways thanks to centuries of borrowing and cultural exchange).

You have to work with what you got, and in terms of language diversity Estonia has got an awful lot. The trick is in utilizing this, to work for our favour.

Martasmimi ütles ...

It was nice of them to ask you to speak on this topic.
I was born and grew up on the North Shore of Long Island in New York (USA).
I was thinking about you concern about the Americanization of Estonia and it's culture.
I was a teenager at the height of the "British Invasion" here in the states, lead by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Perhaps it was only Rock & Roll... but we liked it.
We had the clothes, hair makeup etc. and for a long time life was all about the UK.
I wonder what our parents thought during this time?
Did they think we were being "invaded" by British culture, if so we probably were. It was a time in history and like most things having to do with time & place, we all at some point just moved on.
I am not suggesting that Estonia will once again return to all things pure & Estonian although I know that there are very many there who would love nothing more.

Temesta ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Temesta ütles ...

Think about all the habits, ideas, technology, food, words... that Estonians (and about every other culture on our planet) have received from other cultures or nations. To strip a culture or nation down to some kind of ´essence´ would imply a return to the stone age. :)

Martasmimi ütles ...

Temesta:
Absolutely !
We here live among so many cultures if the only restaurants available to us were Italian, German & Irish (ugh!)we would be so bored.
Most of the people at our favorite Mexican resturant aren't Mexican.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Temesta:
Absolutely !
We here live among so many cultures if the only restaurants available to us were Italian, German & Irish (ugh!)we would be so bored.
Most of the people at our favorite Mexican resturant aren't Mexican.

Marko ütles ...

Oh yes, it would definitely be a step backwards. I think the main thing to consider, is attractiveness of a culture and language. You could apply sharia law in Britain tomorrow, if you wanted it, but would people actually follow it? Would they find it attractive? :)

Just as Latin lost it's attractiveness, and old Roman gods lost their place among the faith communities, we see similar developments among some languages and religions across the Western world. They just don't keep up. And then the blame game begins - it's the Americans, the Russians, the Jews, the gays etc. Nonsense.

The national conservatism you refer to, is actually not that national at all. These people aim more at the Finnic world, if such thing actually exists, with Estonia in it's centre. They think we should borrow only from other Finns and seek for closer integration, to the point it would become a thing in itself. A bit like 19th century Scandinavianist movement. I think this ideological trend will cancel itself out pretty soon. We are all allowed to dream, it just so happens that not all dreams are meant to come true.

Marko ütles ...

But that brings us back to the question of, why do our young people swear in Russian, have banter at each other in English while shopping, mimic the Swedes while drinking and socializing? What makes those aspects of those cultures attractive? Maybe it's to do with the fact that in general Estonians do not swear much, didn't have a real 'shopping culture' until very recently and sharing drinks and jokes with strangers is relatively new aspect to Estonian way of living? Maybe they are just filling the blanks with something that is already out there? Nothing wrong with that.

I was thinking actually about these things other day. Like, how to have gay banter with Estonians in Estonian? Vocabulary just isn't there. Then again I love a challenge :). I think this cultural 'lag' we experience in Estonia at the moment might feed in to the nationalist mood, but I also think it's irrational and paranoid. People should come out of their shell a bit more.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I grew up having gay banter all the time ... from the American perspective that is. I cannot for the life of me explain our sauna culture to the straight guys here ... LOL

Listening to me they think I am as queer as they come ... LOL

So many "saunapidu", naked guys frolicking in the snow, jumping into the ice hole cut into the river ... beating each other with branches ... singing hands over ech other shoulders ... how more gay can you get? Right? LOL

What is confusing about my stories to them is that there were naked girls with us many times as well ... I am closeted is theri verdict on me. I am sure. LOL All estonian men are. LOL

Is that culture or is that just some alternative lifesytle? LOL

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

where is the autocorrect when you need it? ... chah

Marko ütles ...

Oh god yes, the sauna. I remember when I first arrived in the UK and asked my boss, at the time, quite bluntly 'So wheres the most popular sauna in the area?' to which he replied, with a wide smirk in his face 'Well, Marko, you can find them on the Yellow Pages, filed under Gentelmens Clubs' lol. :)

They always ask me if it doesn't bother me seeing all those sagging tits and willies and whatnot :). Brits are pretty victorian in their attitudes towards nudity and I constantly get teased about the sauna.

I always have to calm my partner down too as he thinks it's mandatory for everyone to get naked in the sauna. I just say 'It only applies to housetrained immigrants' :)

Temesta ütles ...

Sometimes Estonian men also invite me to go with them to the sauna. I always decline, it is something I think I´ll never do. It just feels to awkward for me.
But once I was at a family party and there I jumped naked in a lake after the sauna, everyone could see me and I didn´t care. But in the sauna people are just too close. :)

Marko ütles ...

But Temetsa, it's a bit of a compliment in a way. It's like local boys down the street invite you to play football with them. It means they are comfortable with you. It's the local culture, embrace it. :)

Temesta ütles ...

Maybe in 10 or 20 years I am ready for it. :)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I was once challenged by an American estonian in sauna when he was joking that "what you guys pervs or gays, not wearing pants in sauna" to what I replied "the jury is out on who is the bigger perv here, the one who is eyeballing everybody's units or the one who is having good time"

I think fear of nudity is a sexual perverion, dysfunction and general fucked-upedness in the head. Period. Sporry Temesta. Facts.

Marko ütles ...

Maybe I should introduce you to my partner and you can go to sauna together - wearnig dressing gowns, slippers and shower caps, oh, and just in case avoid eye contact too. LOL.

Blimey, it's just a sauna. Whats wrong with you guys? :)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

gheezh ... autocorrect pls!!

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Exactly. You know what it is ... we Estonians are nature people. Nature is not perverted. Religion is.

Temesta, you Catholic?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I like to fuck with american so called macho males ... to me, their maleness is so fragile it makes me grin and look down on them even ... For example, I don't give a fuck anout american football and I only watch it socially. So whenever they replay these bucks tearing into each other in slow mo on big screen, takcles and pile-ons in white tights and units clearly outlined. I go, wow, this is hot guys, is it not? I get it. So you guys like gay porn? I get it. LOL

American football is gay porn.

Needless to say, I do not make many friends ... LOL And I do not give a F. LOL
Friends who know me, put up with my ascerbic humor and odd ball takes on life ....



:-)

Marko ütles ...

Oh, some of those "foreign"estonians do have massive double standards. They must be very confused. I started to go to sauna with my nan and grandad as a child, since when is that something perverse? Since the dawn of time sauna has been the centre of family and social life in Estonia, why some people twist it remains unknown.

The French are a bit more similar to Estonians in that respect. They love to share their baths and walking around your own house naked, is considered perfectly fine.

Can't really comment on Americans, but many settlers were puritans, or other religious extremists who's values did not fit in with European mainstream, thus it's understandable where they get it from.

Marko ütles ...

Something tells me LPR, that you needed to get it out of your chest. :) Under pressure much, in the land of the free? :)

God, Giuostino sure knows how to pick a headline to a blog post. :)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Yeah. Right. Midlife crisis. I have singed up to take a motorcycle license course and have already selected the Harley that I am going to purchase for my 47th b-day.

I know, 47 in Estonia is way way past middle age which is 25, but still ... I think I have some gas left in my tank. Time to burn it.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Back to topic ... Giustino, just tell them everything is fine and give them bunch of high fives and everyone will be happy. Nobody wants a sob story. Be like that violin player on Titanic. Just play.

Giustino ütles ...

American football is gay porn.

I am in 100 percent agreement there, and I played it in high school. The coaches were perverts -- all the sexual metaphors ["I get a boner every time you guys score"] and ass tapping and slapping. It wasn't unlike Full Metal Jacket "Only steers and queers come from Texas ..." Jesus, crazy.

Co-ed sauna is a great place to finally come to grips with one another's nakedness and to realize the awful truth ... that naked people are incredibly boring ...

As for this topic, thanks for sounding off. I have some ideas about what I'll discuss today. Still, not sure what demand exists for Everly Brothers in Estonian supermarkets. Not like there's a line of people shouting, "We want Everlys!"

Marko ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Rainer ütles ...

LPR, for once I couldn't agree with you more - American football is gay porn. Then again, so is wrestling, and I don't mean the Graeco-Roman version. Beefy men making out on the arena. Sheesh. I don't kow wether to laugh cry, or vomit at the site.

Rainer ütles ...

I forgot to mention: skimpily clad sweaty beefy men makind out.

Rainer ütles ...

Marko, are you feeleng horny yet? ;)

Marko ütles ...

You 15 Rainer? Or is it 15 and half? Couldn't care less what makes you vomit or not. Life's too short buddy. :)

Marko ütles ...

http://www.channel5.com/shows/my-secret-past/episodes/gareth-thomas-coming-out

Most of us live in the real world, Rainer. You should watch this, if you cant access it in Estonia just find it on internet, and take a minute to think and next time you're making comments on the subject just think again.


Rainer ütles ...

Steady, Marko. No need for personal attacks. That would be very 15 indeed.

Unknown ütles ...

I agree. I've been to sauna with my father-in-law, and it's an interesting first time experience, but it's normal to me. On the other hand, I can't for the life of me understand why Estonians have a fetish for speedos at swimming pools and on the beach (it's actually the law that you have to use them). They are disgusting uncomfortable things. How do you spot the Eastern European (yes, Russian, too) guy in the West? He's the one wearing speedos. I'm fine with public nudity (you see plenty in Germany, for example, and I love skinny dipping), but I'm not fine with uncomfortable clothing that makes you look like an imbecile. I'm not short down there, precisely why I don't like speedos.

Marko ütles ...

Englishman wears speedos too, that's how you spot them in America. Germany just has lots of American influence - lots of oversized cargo shorts and shirts. That doesn't mean that speedos are okay, it's like bikini for women - you have to have a shape in order to pull it off. :)