Print

Print


----- Original Message -----
From: "Christophe Grandsire" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, May 05, 2000 12:55 AM
Subject: Re: Unamerican


> There is no idea of "un-French" in French (*infrançais is juste
> meaningless). <clip>

It's my impression that this word (unAmerican) is generally
misunderstood outside the US context. (Not that it has much
consistent use within.)

The compounding involved (un- + nationality) does not IMO
define the word, and does not mean that there should be similarly
formed words elsewhere. For one American to call another
person "unAmerican" has nothing to do IMO with that person
not being a US citizen, it is closer to saying that he IS in fact a
US citizen -- but a traitor to either the nation or its ideals. More
like (most) French would perhaps feel of Nazi collaborators of
French birth.

> For a French person, a word like "unamerican" and the like is a mark of a
> deep chauvinism (not that we're not chauvinist of course :) ) and is
> considered quite silly.

I think that this interpretation is simply wrong.  IMO, the word
"unAmerican" has seldom if ever been used in reference to persons
who were not US citizens. No one would have called deGaulle
"unAmerican" (maybe "anti-American" in some ways, but not "un-").
Foreigners are not qualified for the term, so it is not "chauvinistic"
in any such sense. I think that is a misconception.

"UnAmerican" is, IMO, a term of abuse related to differing views
of loyalty to certain ideals within the US political context. It was
generally  used in a very negative sense by what Europeans would
call "the right" in US politics -- as a way of smearing "leftists" that
they wanted to imply were traitorous or close to traitorous. This
leaves it a rather unpopular term today. Seldom used IMO. But it
is sometimes turned around (partly in jest) to insult "right-wingers"
who do not seem (to others) loyal to the basic political system of
the USA. Thus many in the USA might agree that the KluKlux Klan
could be called "unAmerican" -- But this does not imply that they are
perceived as "foreigners" in any way.

> It goes against the general idea that liberty, free
> speech, etc... are universal and are not the property of any nation,
> especially not the US (anti-americanism is still alive and well in
France).

The use of the term went against many fine traditions of fair
play, etc. But it was not really designed to convey any
chauvinistic message. It was not used as an attack on "non-USA"
ways of life at all, IMO. It was used by USAers to attack other
USAers, often those whom they believed were criminally
disloyal -- traitors to their nation.

This may happen in other nations, but the same terminology
(with an "un-"  prefix) is not necessarily going to be used.

Of course there are USA chauvanists (as in other nations)
and many tend to be "right wing." But IMO they would use
other insults, not "unAmerican," to attack any foreign persons
or groups that they wanted to denegrate.

> We don't have a "French way of life" the same way as the "American way of
> life". Or at least we don't name it.             Christophe Grandsire

Interesting. Not at all the impression of many non-French.

I'm reminded of "the Somoan way" of which one hears
so much in Somoa.