[WikiEN-l] templates for country-centric POV?

Gallagher Mark George m.g.gallagher at student.canberra.edu.au
Thu Oct 5 03:32:27 UTC 2006

G'day Matt,

> On 10/4/06, Mark Gallagher <m.g.gallagher at student.canberra.edu.au> 
> wrote:> A relevant quotation: "Remember, in Italy they drive on 
> the wrong side
> > of the road."
> Um, but Italy drives on the same side of the road as the US does.
> That statement would have to have been uttered by a resident of a
> nation that drives on the left.

It's a quotation from /The Italian Job/, showing the boorishness of the film's characters.  A British gangster, standing in Italy, reminds his group that the weirdos in this foreign country do things wrong.

This sort of thing occurs with every nationality, which is why I chose a quotation from a British film.  It's not that the USA is the only nation whose people are stunningly ignorant and rude when confronting those of different viewpoints, just that:
a) A far greater proportion of Americans seem to show this attitude than seen in other countries today
b) The USA is more powerful and more resented, so ordinary, everyday ignorance which would be overlooked in a Canadian becomes a grievous sin when displayed by an American
c) On Wikipedia, America is King.  The rest of the world finds itself having to explain why such-and-such article should be written from a NPOV rather than an American one.  This is not deliberate, there is no organised campaign by Americans to corrupt the encyclopaedia, it's entirely unintentional ... and that's even worse.

The Internet is a global medium.  Articles on the Internet, and particularly on Wikipedia, that talk about "domestic" vs "international" (where America is domestic and everyone else is weird); or "the phenomenon" vs "the version of the phenomenon seen in other countries" (where America is the norm and everyone else is weird); or even "This is what occurs in the world" (while speaking exclusively of American issues - see old versions of our articles on sound mergers or whatever the term is for examples, e.g. cot-caught merger) are no better than a non-Italian man standing in Torino and announcing that, "In Italy they drive on the wrong side of the road."

(I'd be grateful if David could pick up this thread by talking about how other phrases, like "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off", "I used a machine gun", and "Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea!", have deep cultural meaning.)


Mark Gallagher

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list