|The image of the United States as a melting pot
was popularized by the 1908 play The Melting Pot.
If you grew up in the USA, then you grew up referring to the blending of immigrant culture as the “Melting Pot”. However, up here in Canada we referred to the same phenomenon as the “Cultural Mosaic”. But mosaic or melting pot, it means the same thing, that beautiful blending of heritages from all over the world to create a brand new North American culture that embraces all.
As an immigrant to the new world, I particularly relish the richness of national characteristics of new citizens to our shores, because at one time I was one of them.
Take Friday night TV, “Blue Bloods,” one of my favorite shows. So easy to see how Irish, Italian, and other Europeans made such a mark on the New York Police Department. A small example, but so vivid.
Irish famine memorial PhiladelphiaPhoto Attributed to Alexmar983
As we look at each region we see specific ethnic strains, such as that of New Yorkers and New Englanders who still hold on to their distinctive accent and manner of thought, particularly in the North and in Boston.
The heavy industry that evolved in the middle Atlantic States came from Dutch and Swedish settlers, and their religious influence as Catholics, Protestants, and Quakers.
The South is known for its very distinctive drawl and hospitality, settled mainly by English Protestants. America’s breadbasket states came primarily from Germany, Sweden and Norway. The Great Lakes Region (where I grew up across the border in Canada) played a large part in the early industry of the two countries. Not to mention the Wild West, the Spanish influence in California and New Mexico.
|Boston Chinatown, Massechusetts
Yes, Americans and Canadians are most definitely…a cultural mosaic.
As a British immigrant I’m most familiar with British and Irish accents, but in
this my new historical release Sofi’s Bridge, I enjoyed working with the various accents, brogues and dialects that make up the cultural melting pot in the US. In my research I discovered that a large majority of Swedes developed Washington State as is proven by this census map.
|Distribution of Swedish Americans in the United States according to the 2000 census.
Photo attributed to Eleine Paulsson / Downundret
My female lead in Sofi's Bridge is second generation Swedish living in Washington State. The hero however hails from Northern Ireland, speaking with a brogue strong with rising inflections. The Northern Irish brogue is so different from that of Dublin only a few hundred miles to the south. Here are a few samples of that N. Irish brogue.
“I need to apologize . . .” Neil started. “. . . what I said last night about your father.”
“We were both tired last night.”
He returned Sofi’s smile. “To a new day then.” He took a sip and held the cup away from him, crinkling his face. “My, how you Swedes like your coffee strong.”
Sofi’s eyes danced. “Too robust for your delicate tastes, Neil Macph—.”
“Not at all. We Irish like our tea just as strong.”
“But is the coffee to your taste?”
He leaned against the wall, his voice going husky. “ ’Tis grand. Sure I prefer it.”
“You prefer tea, don’t you?”
“I do miss a pot of tea, one where the leaves have been stewing so long the spoon can stand straight up in the cup. Does that satisfy ye?”
Their combined laughter lifted to the eaves. Their gazes locked. A faint flush caressed her cheek, and she glanced away.
One of my favorite snippets of dialogue description shows the different in the Scottish brogue set against that of two Swedish housemaids.
“Matilda needed no further encouragement. She, Frida and Inga, began to cluck over their one chick, Matilda’s Scottish ‘R’s rolling, the two other women elongating their Swedish vowels. For now, Sofi would leave Trina in their capable hands.”
~*~But half the characters in this book originally came from Sweden. Here is a sample of that Swedish accent that from my research shows their immigrant story in a small way.
“What makes you think I know nothing of working hard for plain food?” Roselle snapped, glancing at the richness of carpets, paintings, chandeliers, fripperies that had made up her home for years. “As the child of poor Swedish immigrants I grew up on the old saying, ‘Manure and diligence make the farmer rich’. Freddie’s father made money from his timber business, but I came to our marriage with nothing but love.”
The look Charles sent her almost made her laugh. He acted as if she had uttered a vulgar oath. “I have never heard you speak in such a fashion, Roselle.”
“You mean like a farmer’s daughter, jah?” There was another word Freddie had not wanted her to use. It clearly offended Charles too. Always say yes instead of jah. Always say Mrs. Jones instead of Fru Jones.
But our North American Cultural Mosaic includes much more than Europeans, but also Asians, and those from the Middle East as well as South America. In this small snippet of dialogue, I tried to show the poetic Asian cadence to the dialogue of an elderly Japanese character.
A moment later Trina’s face pinched as if she were trying to the elderly Japanese him. Kiosho hunched down, took her hand and murmured, “Granddaughter, you are like your mama, a feeble tree, sheltered too long.”
Read for free the first chapters of all of Christine Lindsay’s novels including chapter 1 of Sofi’s Bridge at this link Christine Lindsay’s Books.
PURCHASE LINKS FOR SOFI'S BRIDGE (Paper and Ebooks)
Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction with complex emotional and psychological truth, who always promises a happy ending. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.
Christine’s Irish wit and use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and newest release Sofi’s Bridge.
A busy writer and speaker, Christine, and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of her non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.
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