Amy on Cultural Copycatting

You see so few 2nd generation Irish immigrants among the kids these days…..

Dear Amy: Both of my parents are Irish immigrants, so I’ve been raised saying things like “me coat” and calling my mother “Mum.”

I also spell words with the Irish spelling rather than the American way.

I am 15 years old, and my friends have started catching on, spelling things the same way and using the same phrases and language.

At first, I didn’t really mind, but now it’s becoming annoying.

I feel as if they are trying to take away my culture, especially now that one of my friends, “Janet,” is using random Gaelic phrases.

I know these phrases because my parents are fluent in Gaelic.

I don’t know how to get my friends to stop attempting to take over my culture. What’s your advice? — Ireland Forever

[Turns out I didn’t make the text of this letter green on purpose. But it’s staying all right!]

Dear Forever: Using the Irish vernacular doesn’t mean your friends are taking your parents’ native culture any more than dancing to the soundtrack of “Slumdog Millionaire” makes any of us a Bollywood star — but we’re all allowed our cross-cultural fantasies, right? Ideally, you’d be flattered by this sort of appropriation, but I can understand how listening to your friends say “me Mum” would get old.

I admit to being one of those individuals who instantly appropriates the language and accent of the person I’m speaking with, until a friend warned that my flat Eastern accent didn’t lend itself well to “kvelling” and “kvetching.” So I stopped.

Your friends are fascinated by your culture. We Americans tend to believe that our own culture is boring and flavorless.

But — as we are fond of reminding anyone still listening — it’s a free country, and your friends have the right to be annoying.

Your best defense is to laugh when your friend Janet gets your Irish up.

“What’s so funny, pal-o-mine?” she’ll ask.

“You’re as Irish as Jennifer Lopez, but, hey — good try!”

Oh Amy. So corny. But probably effective enough.

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