Overheard in the US:
- “I’m Swedish” says a rotund lady with an American accent that reveals no hint of Scandinavian rythm. She demonstrated no sign of the stylish dress sense I’d witnessed on my trips to Stockholm and LinkÃ¶ping. I didn’t ask ‘how’ she was Swedish. I was only evesdropping on the conversation. The American she spoke to accepted moved the conversation to another topic.
- “I’m Finnish” a slender girl in an American accent told me. “How?” two of her grandparents were born in Sweden before becoming naturalised American citizens. She had met her grandparents though never visited Europe. She knew very little about the country. I didn’t mentioned my lineage. She didn’t ask. She appeared to be enjoying telling me about hers. I was enjoying being an attentive audience.
The US authorities do not legally recognize dual citizenship. It seems you can be a US citizen and declare yourself ‘as if’ native of another county. To be a native of another country doesn’t require having the benenfit of parents born in that country, speaking the language, or having visited that country.
My father was born in the Karelia isthmus when it belonged to Finland. He holds a Finnish passport and emmigrated to England aged 19. I was born after he became a British citizen. My parents were both British citizens. I know a bit about Finland by virtue of visits to relations, holidays in Scandinavia, stories from Dad, and cultural objects around my parents home. But that hardly qualifies me to say ‘I’m Finnish’. I am English. I only lived one year in Scotland and spent numerous vacations in Wales and Ireland. I suspect there were probably some Vikings in my mothers family tree. By American conversational convetions I can probably say ‘I’m Viking’. Watch out for the pillaging, its overdue….