How to tell if you're American

Not long ago, one of those earnest-freshman puppydogs on the Net declared that there was "no such thing as American culture." Right. Fish have also been known to doubt the existence of water.

The following is a first crack at an ostensive definition of 'American culture'-- things shared by the vast majority (let's say 90%) of native-born Americans. Many of these won't sound 'cultural' at all to Americans; they'll sound like just descriptions of the way things are. But each one of them would be contested in one or more non-American cultures.

The original page was written circa 1994. Revisions (as of 2014) are in this style, so you can see what's changed in a generation.

This test has spawned a growing host of responses (most of them better written than mine).

To wit:
Canada John Bayko and Damien Ponech
Quebec Valérie Bourdeau
France Nicolas Duvernois
Italy Riccardo Distasi
Brazil Emilio Neto
Mexico Acoyani Garrido Sandoval
Colombia Carlos Thompson
Scotland Geoff Eddy
England Justin M.
The Netherlands Bas Suverkropp
Sweden Anders Janson
Ukraine Vadim Urasov
Poland Pawel Stachura
Greece Chris TDAQ
Japan Hirofumi Nagamura
New Zealand Gareth Wilson
Australia Chris O'Regan
South Africa T'Mar
Turkey Cyril Alebard
China Agile Software students
Hong Kong Emanuel Leung
India Apurva Mishra
Jewish Israel Alon Levy
New York City John Cowan
Finland Johanna Laakso
Russia W. Shedd and K. Andreyeva
Verduria me
Skouras me
Charya Boudewijn Rempt
Khadra wligon1
Gnomish Aidan Elliott-McCrea
Nekilotyri Joel Heikkila
Ill Bethisad Over a dozen tests from a collaborative alternative history
Safiria Carl Miller

These pages are all organized by nation or culture. Robert Delaney has put up an interesting page with the same information organized by subject, which includes data from some pages that have been lost from the web.

--Mark Rosenfelder

If you're American... If you died tonight...Everybody knows thatContributions to world civilizationOutside the BeltwaySpace and timeIf you're under 50...

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