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What Europeans think of each other
February 20, 2008 7:56 AM   Subscribe

What Europeans think of each other
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (76 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I know this a bit of a cliché and subject of countless previous "lists" from the prehistoric depths of Usenet, but I found this one actually contains some truth and/or insight.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:57 AM on February 20, 2008


The Brits, of course, have the most mixed feelings about the French, though. One half the country hates them, the other half loves them. Those that hate the French tend to like the Americans, and vice versa.

No, no, no. We all hate the French, and we all hate Americans. Half of us sort of get on alright with the french really - but mostly in the form of buying lots of cheese and wine and saying how good the food is - and half of us sort of willing to admit that some Americans are kind of alright sometimes but their goverment sucks.

Theres a tiny minority of Brits who love,love, love the Americand and hate, hate hate teh french. You can tell these people apart because they live in Florida and their faces are permenantly red.

Oh, and theres Christopher Hitchens, but he's a yank now and he can fuck off.
posted by Artw at 8:10 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Broadly how I have always heard the stereotypes to be. Wether there's any thruth to them who knows.
It is interesting that no real perceptions from westerners about eastern European countries exist yet. In a decade perhaps we will se some more solid opinions, from all those polish handyworkers and slovak carmakers influencing life in the UK and Germany.
posted by Catfry at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2008


The main beef with the Brits is that they’re considered the lapdog of the U.S.

That's about right. Thanks Tony Blair, you fucking traitor.
posted by Artw at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2008


Also available in handy matrix form
posted by adamrice at 8:14 AM on February 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Pfft, why is Luxembourg and Portugal left off that list? Typical american behaviour.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:16 AM on February 20, 2008


Well, he admits to not knowing much about the Portuguese, but I know for a fact they dislike the Spaniards very much, while the Spanish only think of the Portuguese as being a bit obtuse and backwards thinking.

I have an anecdote to illustrate the point: some friends and I once rented a car in Spain in order to drive through Portugal (It's a really nice, celtic, foggy, mysterious, colorful country). The car we rented had Spanish plates so, as we approached Lisbon, we started getting pulled over by cops again and again. Every single time this happened, a very loud, incomprehensible, and fast discussion between the cops and us, in Spanish and Portuguese, started almost right away. Also, it arbruptely ended the moment we showed our passports and driving licences "Ah, México!", they said, "pensamos que você foi da Espanha!". And with that, they let us go.
posted by omegar at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


What exile.ru thinks of what Europeans think of each other.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


know this a bit of a cliché and subject of countless previous "lists" from the prehistoric depths of Usenet, but I found this one actually contains some truth and/or insight.

FAIL.

Tired, trite, cliched, old.

Up next: Americans. Fat or lazy?
posted by GuyZero at 8:29 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Finns aren't Scandinavians. Fail.
posted by Slothrup at 8:29 AM on February 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Oh, and the German respect for the Czechs has nothing to do with resisting German aggression -- it's pure gratitude for having invented lager.
posted by Slothrup at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, clicking on that exile.ru link is like dunking your browser in a toilet.
posted by Artw at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Many years ago when I visited Netherlands, I was told 'Belgian' jokes--the typical 'they're so stupid that...' type jokes. I was also told, in detail, how all the smart people left Belgium to move north to the Netherlands, leaving the less intelligent people behind. And Europeans love to complain about American tourists, but it is nothing compared to the complaints of the Dutch toward German tourists.

But this was many years a go, and like Italian and Polish jokes in the US, some of these things may not exist anymore. I've often wondered if Bush's international blundering has helped the European Union unite. They have to grow up and take more responsibility now that the US has become such an incompetant world leader.
posted by eye of newt at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2008


Also, they seem to have left out the entirety of Eastern Europe.
posted by Slothrup at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2008


Danes hate it when you pronounce their capital as “ko-pen-HAH-gen”, because this is the German pronunciation. Either pronounce it the English way (with “HAY” instead), or the Danish way, which is literally impossible to put down here.

The Germans apparently stole the IPA last time they invaded.
posted by cortex at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Also, they seem to have left out the entirety of Eastern Europe.

As did Western Europe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but Walloons walk like this, whereas Alsatians walk like this, right? (insert guffaw)
posted by aramaic at 8:37 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a big difference between hating "the French" and hating a Frenchman. Most Brits don't like "the French" but find most of the individual French people they meet very welcoming.

However "the French" as a nation are a different kettle of fish.

Most English love France though - wine, cheese, skiing, nice weather and warm baguettes.

Also, they seem to have left out the entirety of Eastern Europe. Except Poland and the Czechs - that's a fair old chunk...
posted by jontyjago at 8:39 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would definitely describe the Czech Republic as Central Europe; it's not really further east than Austria. And omitted were Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and FYROM. I won't add Turkey as its inclusion might be considered iffy.
posted by Slothrup at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The French hate the Germans
The Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don't like anybody very much

--The Kingston Trio
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oops -- and Slovakia.
posted by Slothrup at 8:50 AM on February 20, 2008


Slothrup - a quick round up:

The Balkans - fighting. Croatias nice though.
Russia and associated countries - drunk and poor. Russias going a bit nasty.
Latvia - Ruled by Dr. Doom.
Turkey and Bugraria - Gypsy fights!
Everywhere else: Mostly harmless.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


...and Cyprus is also omitted.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:55 AM on February 20, 2008



Danes hate it when you pronounce their capital as “ko-pen-HAH-gen”, because this is the German pronunciation. Either pronounce it the English way (with “HAY” instead), or the Danish way, which is literally impossible to put down here.


I think "ko-ben-HAWN" is pretty close, IIRC. Which I may not.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:57 AM on February 20, 2008


I think "ko-ben-HAWN" is pretty close, IIRC.

Just get blind drunk, eat and choke on a bun and try to pronounce "Corey Haim" at the same time. That usually works. :)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:00 AM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


ZenMasterThis, I'll see your Kingston Trio and raise you one Tom Lehrer:

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks; ...
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews. ...

Reminds me of the excellent new book, Who Hates Whom.
posted by Melismata at 9:01 AM on February 20, 2008


I disagree that most European nations haven't formed opinions about East/Muddle Europe. Look at the number of countries who prevent free immigration from the new members of the EU - that tells you all you need to know.
posted by patricio at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2008


All facts verified by the Rhodesian Police
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2008


patrico - they think they don't have any money?
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on February 20, 2008


In Britain, we have formed very precise opinions of Eastern Europeans, especially Poles. They are a) lazy slobs with criminal tendencies who will scrounge off the dole, and b) highly efficient workers who will steal all our jobs.

Yeah, it's a puzzle why the rest of Europe hates the Brits.
posted by flashboy at 9:13 AM on February 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


I really like the heaven and hell part at the end, showing how the stereotypes collectively could improve or ruin things for the EU.
posted by scabrous at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2008


All I know is that an Englishman once told me that the difference between a Frenchman and a piece of toast is that one could make soldiers out of the toast.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:22 AM on February 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


They are a) lazy slobs with criminal tendencies who will scrounge off the dole, and b) highly efficient workers who will steal all our jobs.

damn, that's exactly how many people in the u.s. seem to feel about latino immigrants.

and i'd be willing to bet all my money that such sentiments go all the way back to the mutterings of the grassland tribes whenever they saw someone from the hill tribes, not long after our ancestors first began organizing into settlements.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:25 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course we reserve the real hatred for the town just up the road, like Newcastle and Sunderland.
posted by Abiezer at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2008


I always thought the main beef with the Brits was British beef.
posted by Mike D at 9:30 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy
Before WW2 the French were seen as a violent and warlike people, with the best army in the world (see Napoleon for further details).
posted by greytape at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2008


It's moderately amusing, but as a couple of people have said, it feels a bit twenty years ago. I'm very pro-European, so maybe it's wishful thinking, but there does seem to have been a softening of the barriers between countries and (whisper it here in Tory England) a nascent sense of European unity - or at least a sense that we have things in common that make us different from other bits of the world.

Football helps, not least the ability of people like Arsene Wenger and Fernando Torres to show us how it's done. In Britain, the loss of empire is becoming more history than current affairs - I think we're starting to find a role, even if it is occasionally a mid-Atlantic one.

What we really lack is a strong pro-European prime minister - we haven't had one for a while because Blair was too scared of the press and Brown is solidly pro-American and mildly anti-European (much more pro-American than Blair, astonishingly). We can't expect much from the Tories but I have great hopes of David Miliband, half Polish, half Belgian and very up-and-coming.
posted by athenian at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


From Sondheim. The character singing is Italian, however the lyrics are by a New Yorkster.

Last week the Germans,
You can keep the Germans,
Always cheap, the Germans,
Even on a trip.
Sweet? Not the Germans,
Sweat a lot, the Germans,
Full of smiles, the Germans,
Don't expect a tip.

Next week the English,
You should see the English,
All the tea, the English,
Thirsty, I suppose.
Good eggs, the English,
Rotten legs, the English,
All those teeth, the English,
Rows and rows and rows.

Then come Parisians,
Full of food Parisians,
Always rude Parisians,
Every one a sneak.
Perfumed Parisians,
Over-groomed Parisians,
Middle-class Parisians,
Far more cheek than chic.

No alcoholic Swedes,
No double-dealing Russians.
No Spaniards with their beads
And their deafening discussions.
No narcissistic Greeks,
They're worse than the Italians
With overblown physiques
And St. Christopher medallions.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


slothrup: Finns aren't Scandinavians. Fail.

Well, "Scandinavian" and "Nordic" have become synonyms. It's a battle that I, an Icelander, have long given up fighting.

That said, here are the inter-Nordic stereotypes.

Icelanders: Jackass drunks.
Finns: Depressed drunks.
Danes: Arrogant drunks.
Swedes: Stuck-up drunks.
Norwegians: Boring junkies.
posted by Kattullus at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


eye of newt, speaking of Belgian jokes, where I grew up, that's actually what the predominant jokes were. It wasn't until I got older that Polish jokes were the usual variant.

The biggest irony, of course, is that the area was mainly Belgian settlers (Door County, WI). I guess they like to laugh at their own bad selves...
posted by symbioid at 9:47 AM on February 20, 2008


Most of the Germans I've met consider the Poles to be a nation of car thieves. They don't have a favorable opinion of Polish women, either.
posted by Chuffy at 10:02 AM on February 20, 2008


I guess they like to laugh at their own bad selves...

That sort of puts the Belgian attitude to life in a nutshell. Just consider this sentence from a Belgian Francophone comic about his Dutch-speaking Flemish compatriots:

"Surveys say that ever more Flemings are no longer able to speak French correctly...so that's something we still have in common!"
posted by Skeptic at 10:11 AM on February 20, 2008


BozzettoFilter: Europe vs. Italy.
posted by progosk at 10:26 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mike D: I always thought the main beef with the Brits was British beef.

I'm mad about their cows.
posted by adamrice at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2008


Thanks for this, if for nothing else but the joke at the end, which I am always trying to remember, and never can. Lots of fun.
posted by nax at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2008


flashboy said: "In Britain, we have formed very precise opinions of Eastern Europeans, especially Poles. They are a) lazy slobs with criminal tendencies who will scrounge off the dole, and b) highly efficient workers who will steal all our jobs."

You're being very kind to our countrypeople. In my experience it's more: "fuck those asylum seekers, on the dole, working the night shift AND the day shift for £3 an hour, getting all the council houses, can't speak English, how dare Sainsburys give over a shelf to Polish food!!!" all whilst drinking foreign beer, shopping in Asda, wearing clothes made by Chinese kids, texting on a Finnish phone :)

It's exactly the same as the way we used to treat the Caribbean immigrants and the way Americans treat Mexican/Latino immigrants and used to treat the Irish. We're not really a greatly varied species when it comes to behaviour, but at least history has proven that in time, it does pass. Bring on the future!
posted by saturnine at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


progosk- that is extremely funny. Thanks
posted by francesca too at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2008


This (in German) is much more accurate and very funny.
posted by snownoid at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Most of the Germans I've met consider the Poles to be a nation of car thieves.

"Aus was für stahl sind polnische autos?"

"Diebstahl."

*ducks*
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:43 AM on February 20, 2008


I was told 'Belgian' jokes--the typical 'they're so stupid that...' type jokes.

In NATO military officer circles in Germany in the early '90s, the stereotype about Belgians was that they were the laziest crew in NATO. This emerged in part from the fact that most returned to Belgium for the "weekend," which always seemed to mean they were only in the office for a couple days a week. One typical gag (told by Americans, Canadians, Brits and Germans alike) went:

Why do Belgians hate Wednesday?

Spoils a perfectly good weekend.
posted by gompa at 11:31 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


In Heaven…
* the mechanics are Michiganian
* the chefs are Louisianian
* the police are Vermontian
* the lovers are Washington
* and everything is organized by the Floridians.


Meh... doesn't work. Was worth a try. Why does that not work in the U.S. but does in Europe? Do we have no refined sense of identity yet within the U.S.?
posted by crapmatic at 12:43 PM on February 20, 2008


Well in Seattle they hate all the fuckers from Bellevue for being soulless yuppies, and in Bellevue they hate all the Seattlites for being snobby hippies, so kinda. Maybe you just need to scale down.

That said there's a lot to be said for coasts vs flyover country.
posted by Artw at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2008


I was in Austria last summer, and they were all sort of stuck-up, and the attitude ranged from fake-nice to downright rude. (Also, they all looked vaguely inbred and Habsburgish. But I repeat myself.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:18 PM on February 20, 2008


crapmatic, the closest saying I can think of for the US is the old saw about Washington D.C.:
a stunning combination of Northern Hospitality and Southern Efficiency.
posted by fings at 1:25 PM on February 20, 2008


In Hell...
The mechanics are D.C.
The chefs are Kansas
The police are New York (City)
The lovers are Connecticut
And everything is organized by the Californians
posted by Melismata at 1:45 PM on February 20, 2008


Artw, flyover country has its own infighting. Wisconsinites see Illinoisans as arrogant bastards, and Illinoisans see Wisconsinites as backward hicks (though Illinoisans just LOVE to visit Wisconsin and spend money).

When I was in Paris, almost no one pegged me as American on the first try - I guess because I speak halfway intelligible French. Some thought I was Spanish, others Dutch. I wonder how these stereotypes contributed to their perception. (My ancestry is Irish & German.)
posted by desjardins at 2:45 PM on February 20, 2008


Katullus, I love the inter-Nordic stereotypes. By the way, most Europeans I've known have confirmed the Finnish stereotype. I knew an Austrian tour guide who dreaded every busload of Finns on holiday.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:14 PM on February 20, 2008


Yeah this list seem about right to me. I read a great definition of Englishness once:

"A Englishman is someone who despises England and pities anyone who isn't English"
posted by ob at 3:42 PM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


eye of newt: I was in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2005 and the jokes were still strong on both sides. It's more of a friendly rivalry thing though.

I showed my boyfriend (who went to Denmark for a year) the list and he confirmed most of it. I found Swedes to be a bit cold and the Danes to be a lot more open and warm, though I suppose the winter snow had something to do with it.
posted by divabat at 4:24 PM on February 20, 2008


Wow, clicking on that exile.ru link is like dunking your browser in a toilet.

Yes, quite a drivel. By the way it's funny how the writer of the FPP link wonders that the French have no hard feelings for the Germans. Francogerman relations are Europe 101.
posted by ersatz at 4:38 PM on February 20, 2008


Hard to be that pissed off at people when you're constantly popping over the border to buy cheap petrol.
posted by Artw at 4:58 PM on February 20, 2008


I've always been strangely enthralled by the Swiss...

Maybe it's because I expect them to open up to reveal a saw, a magnifying glass, and a compass.
posted by tehloki at 5:51 PM on February 20, 2008


omegar: I too think the Portuguese are obtuse and retrograde --- and I'm Portuguese.
posted by Goblindegook at 5:56 PM on February 20, 2008


Before WW2 the French were seen as a violent and warlike people, with the best army in the world (see Napoleon for further details).

Certain of their colonialists even after WW2 would have agreed with the first part of that characterization.

Then, too, a lot of Napoleon's Grande Armée were furriners.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:08 PM on February 20, 2008


Many years ago when I visited Netherlands, I was told 'Belgian' jokes--the typical 'they're so stupid that...' type jokes. I was also told, in detail, how all the smart people left Belgium to move north to the Netherlands, leaving the less intelligent people behind.

There's a kernel of truth in that. Back in the 1500s, both Belgium and the Netherlands were essentially colonies of Spain (I forget exactly why, but partly because of Charles V being both Holy Roman Emperor *and* King of Spain, and probably helped by some intermarriage). The northern part of the territory had more of an independent streak and was building land out of the sea, canals, and further, had no monarchy of its own. Meanwhile, Antwerp (in Belgium) was a big trading center. Given that most of this area was Protestant, shit eventually went down between Spain and the natives, and the merchants and traders in Antwerp got fed up with it and moved north, which had actually staked out some independence. Some of these folks were Jews whose families came from Portugal, after it had had its day in the sun.

Of course, these days I can't see too much difference between Belgium and the Netherlands. Belgium has better beer. The Netherlands has better bike paths.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:05 PM on February 20, 2008


Hmph. Lithuanians don't much care for Poles, either.
posted by WaterSprite at 7:17 PM on February 20, 2008


Up next: Americans. Fat or lazy?


Lazy? Americans are fat and stupid! Lazy we are not.
posted by parallax7d at 7:55 PM on February 20, 2008


snownoid - brilliant, those!
posted by progosk at 11:15 PM on February 20, 2008


And not a mention of the holidaying Germans running down before breakfast to reserve the choice poolside loungers! Without fail every European I have met recounts this as proof of the German's arrogance.
posted by bystander at 2:19 AM on February 21, 2008


Oh, and "two world wars and one world cup" chanted by the Poms at the soccer is a favourite.
posted by bystander at 2:19 AM on February 21, 2008


Up next: Americans. Fat or lazy?


Lazy? Americans are fat and stupid! Lazy we are not.



I concur; it often seems that most people here would rather work too much for too little rather than risk being called a socialist or somesuch.

As far as the fatness charge goes...I ride public transportation, and I suspect they're eventually gonna have to start making wider bus seats, making wider buses to accomodate them, and then widening the roads to accomodate those buses.
posted by hell toupee at 6:40 AM on February 21, 2008


The population of Ireland is 33% bigger than they say it is. And that's without counting the Nordies.

Just sayin.
posted by tiny crocodile at 1:04 PM on February 21, 2008


From the article: Spaniards consider themselves white and European, and would be deeply insulted if you suggested they were Latin American of any kind.
Am I missing something here?
posted by baklavabaklava at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2008


Spaniards consider themselves white and European, and would be deeply insulted if you suggested they were Latin American of any kind.

Was it Dubya that claimed Nelson Mandela as his favourite 'African American'?
posted by atrazine at 2:55 PM on February 21, 2008


desjardins: Wisconsinites see Illinoisans as arrogant bastards, and Illinoisans see Wisconsinites as backward hicks

It's all about the football teams
posted by nax at 3:39 AM on February 22, 2008


This (in German) is much more accurate and very funny.

Agreed, that's both funnier and more accurate than the original link.
posted by klausness at 1:55 PM on February 24, 2008


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