News   May 25, 2020
 135     0 
News   May 25, 2020
 68     0 
News   May 25, 2020
 233     0 

Does Toronto's multiculturalism really contrast with the "melting pot" of American cities?

wild goose chase

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
750
Reaction score
83
Precisely!



... which again is part of the issue with the mosaic, i.e. if you're a 'Chinese Canadian' you're a Canadian who uses a qualifying adjective whereas if you're an Italian-American you're a compound noun! The notion of 'Canadian' in this case is still fairly rigid, not evolving through the influence of our diversity.
Sometimes the compound or hyphenated identity for Canadians and Americans isn't always one that is labelled by the person themselves, but sometimes by others.

For example, there are cases where some people have gotten some flak for actually rejecting a compound or hyphenated identity. One that comes to mind is when Raven-Symoné said that she didn't want to be labelled African-American, but just American, some people in the media actually criticized her for that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/05/raven-symone-african-american-gay-labels_n_5929414.html

I honestly think people should just chill out with the "identity policing". It's all right to be proud of one's own cultural, ethnic or racial heritage but telling others how they should or shouldn't identify is a bit silly.
 

wild goose chase

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
750
Reaction score
83
The notion of 'Canadian' in this case is still fairly rigid, not evolving through the influence of our diversity.
It's not unusual for names of countries and nationalities to change meaning from what the name meant when it was first settled. I mean, after all Canada was an Iroquoian word for village or settlement first encountered by Cartier, so it would have referred to where the natives of the St. Lawrence valley lived first, and then "Canadien" at some point was used mainly to describe French settlers of the colony for quite a while before Confederation, and before English-speaking Canadians themselves appropriated the name. There are similar examples throughout history, like Britons named after the pre-Roman Celtic speaking people, even Romanians being named after Romans, but people don't think about this on a day-to-day basis when talking about citizens of the UK or Romania. Ghana and Cambodia too were named after historically African and Asian empires and kingdoms that geographically were not in the same areas and borders as the modern countries' namesake.
 
Last edited:

wild goose chase

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
750
Reaction score
83
A lot of Americans seem to measure diversity in terms of four "groups": White, Black, "Hispanic" and Asian.
Which is problematic and limiting to begin with ...
Yeah, especially since the first and second of those categories describe skin tones, the third describes a heterogeneous group of people with a common linguistic heritage regardless of ancestry, and the fourth pertains to a continent where 60% of the world lives.
Not just that, but apparently, aboriginal groups are excluded, as well as those from North Africa (as they are neither black nor Asians).

The United States Census Bureau needs to be reformed.
One thing I don't get is why Canada uses a lot more categories for visible minorities (mainly for groups within Asia) that the US lumps together. It's odd that a country of 320 million draws fewer distinctions than one of 35 million, even if groups of Asian origin make up a larger percentage in the latter.

The broadness and narrowness of the groupings I think has to do with history (history of slavery erasing many African-American's cultural roots, so that people would not have distinguished between regions within Africa), but both Canada and the US became more cosmopolitan after removal of immigration restrictions in the latter half of the 1960s, so this diversity should be reflected in both nations.
 

junctionist

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
8,509
Reaction score
1,712
Location
The Junction, Toronto
Though Toronto has celebrated multiculturalism in recent decades, the most powerful people are a fairly homogenous group. Our mayor, our premier and most directors of the largest corporations are not a noticeably multicultural group--at least not based on appearance and surname. Unless multiculturalism transforms those groups, then its significance in society is limited. Ideally, we want a meritocracy in government, business and institutions because there are brilliant people who can make great leaders who are of various ethnic backgrounds. Why should anyone be limited in what they can achieve based on their ethnic origins? That's human potential in our citzens that's wasted.

However, research shows that more doors open to people with simple "white" sounding names--meaning of white British origin. There have been some fascinating studies on the phenomenon. Research also shows that white names of British origin are more likely to evoke confidence and trust in people in general in Canadian and American society, which is what you want in leadership positions. They're also more likely to evoke an upper class family origin, while "ethnic" names are more likely to evoke working class family origins. People may assume they're immigrants and question their language and social skills just because of their name.
 
Last edited:

the lemur

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
4,069
Reaction score
632
However, research shows that more doors open to people with simple "white" sounding names--meaning of white British origin. There have been some fascinating studies on the phenomenon. Research also shows that white names of British origin are more likely to evoke confidence and trust in people in general in Canadian and American society, which is what you want in leadership positions. They're also more likely to evoke an upper class family origin, while "ethnic" names are more likely to evoke working class family origins. People may assume they're immigrants and question their language and social skills just because of their name.
Even in relatively homogeneous societies assumed to have high social mobility, the surnames of high earners are still those of the elite of 300-odd years ago:

http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Sweden 2012 AUG.pdf
 

junctionist

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
8,509
Reaction score
1,712
Location
The Junction, Toronto
Even in relatively homogeneous societies assumed to have high social mobility, the surnames of high earners are still those of the elite of 300-odd years ago:

http://www.econ.ucdavis.edu/faculty/gclark/papers/Sweden 2012 AUG.pdf
These phenomena are fascinating because they go against many assumptions about social mobility in modern democracies. Fortunately, the barriers are fairly permeable in Canada because we have no real aristocracy in the way European nations do. Some people may simply be limited by their name in certain employment, but that can be legally changed. As long as that person isn't deceiving anyone in changing his or her name, then it's fine.
 

wild goose chase

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
750
Reaction score
83
Some people may simply be limited by their name in certain employment, but that can be legally changed. As long as that person isn't deceiving anyone in changing his or her name, then it's fine.
A lot of immigrants famously changed their names in the US during the Ellis Island immigrant period. Don't know if such a thing was ever popular in Canada though.
 

the lemur

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
4,069
Reaction score
632
These phenomena are fascinating because they go against many assumptions about social mobility in modern democracies. Fortunately, the barriers are fairly permeable in Canada because we have no real aristocracy in the way European nations do. Some people may simply be limited by their name in certain employment, but that can be legally changed. As long as that person isn't deceiving anyone in changing his or her name, then it's fine.
It may just be that privilege is passed on through generations and remains fairly stable even as one's fortunes vary: the Eaton family no longer has any meaningful role in the retail trade but their name still carries associations in the arts, etc.
 

the lemur

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
4,069
Reaction score
632
A lot of immigrants famously changed their names in the US during the Ellis Island immigrant period. Don't know if such a thing was ever popular in Canada though.
To be clear, those immigrants in the US made the change themselves after settling in the US, at a time when some names would have faced some incomprehension or difficulty. I think what's more surprising is how many names survived unchanged, aside from a few diacritics going missing.

I haven't heard of anything similar happening in Canada.
 

Johnny Au

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
5,948
Reaction score
1,202
Location
Near the North York, York, & Old Toronto tripoint
Many Polish Americans retained their surnames their great-grandparents had when they immigrated (and same goes with Polish Canadians as well). However, their pronunciations changed. For example, "w" is pronounced "v" (if "voiced) or "f" (if "w" is unvoiced) in Polish, but changed to pronounce like the English "w" in both cases.

For example, Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's surname is pronounced "too-low-vit-zki" in Polish but "too-low-wit-zki" in English, given that Tulowitzki is a Polish surname and Troy is descended from Poles who immigrated to the United States.

There is a former Jays player named Marc Rzepczynski as well, also having a Polish surname.

One Canadian Governor General is named Ray Hnatyshyn, though he is of Ukrainian descent.
 

Admiral Beez

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
8,311
Reaction score
2,278
The broad American melting pot of course never applied to African Americans. But second generation Caribbean blacks do assimilate into the African American community.
Watching vids like this one make me think we've done no better in Toronto with this specific population

 

the lemur

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
4,069
Reaction score
632
Many Polish Americans retained their surnames their great-grandparents had when they immigrated (and same goes with Polish Canadians as well). However, their pronunciations changed. For example, "w" is pronounced "v" (if "voiced) or "f" (if "w" is unvoiced) in Polish, but changed to pronounce like the English "w" in both cases.

For example, Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's surname is pronounced "too-low-vit-zki" in Polish but "too-low-wit-zki" in English, given that Tulowitzki is a Polish surname and Troy is descended from Poles who immigrated to the United States.

There is a former Jays player named Marc Rzepczynski as well, also having a Polish surname.

One Canadian Governor General is named Ray Hnatyshyn, though he is of Ukrainian descent.
Yes. Most Polish-Americans don't speak the language and because the spelling system is not self-evident to non-speakers, the 'w' is taken at its English value, particularly in syllables such as 'ow', 'ew' and 'aw': Nowak, Kowalski, Krawczyk.

A notable exception here in Canada is Terry Milewski [milefski], whose father left Poland for the UK in WW2.
 

wild goose chase

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
750
Reaction score
83
Yes. Most Polish-Americans don't speak the language and because the spelling system is not self-evident to non-speakers, the 'w' is taken at its English value, particularly in syllables such as 'ow', 'ew' and 'aw': Nowak, Kowalski, Krawczyk.

A notable exception here in Canada is Terry Milewski [milefski], whose father left Poland for the UK in WW2.
It seems like people really vary quite a lot (whether within the US or Canada) in terms of whether or not they want their name pronounced "authentically" in terms of linguistic roots or if they are fine with an "anglicized" version. Some people are cool with either. There are many examples in all sorts of languages, whether European, Asian, African, etc. where it is hard to English-speakers to produce the same sounds, so people stick to a name easily remembered in English.

I remember there have been times I'd tried to say the names of Americans with French last names the way I'd expect in French, only to be corrected to another totally different pronunciation!
 

doady

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
3,976
Reaction score
337
Location
Mississauga
Cultures are not static entities that are isolated from each other. Cultures constantly evolve and constantly interact with other. Cultures are combinations other cultures. What happens within Toronto and within Canada happens at a global level too, now more than ever thanks to technology. This is the true nature of culture. Canada has simply recognized this better than other countries do.
 

Top