The Influence of English Mass Culture on Estonia — страница 3

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America and the BBC World Service. The other pole of anxiety is the fear of losing our cultural identity. Estonia is a small country that has struggled through the centuries to maintain its cultural identity in the face of overwhelming and often brutal external pressures. The Preamble of the Estonian Constitution of 1992 proclaims, "the preservation of the Estonian nation and culture" among the main functions of the independent state. Support for identity, the openness for cultural influences from other parts of the world, and support for creativity and concern for participation in cultural life have all become a part of Estonian cultural policy. Estonia has stood on the cultural dividing line between Eastern and Western Europe for centuries. The impact that such a position has

had on the characteristic features of the culture is tremendous. Our cultural scene is distinguished by many peculiarities and is a highly complicated way of existence for a small nation. Being open to the sea and trade due to its geographical position, Estonia has been characterized throughout the centuries by a large variety of cultures. Bearers of different cultures arrived here at different times and for different reasons. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Catholicism vied with Protestantism, the latter winning the ultimate victory. This led Estonians to a focus on literary culture and the written word. Church has never been particularly important to Estonians, as it is in Catholic or Orthodox cultures. Hence, we do not have over-ritualised attitudes towards the state,

religion or culture. After Estonian re-independence in 1991, the consumption of culture quickly acquired the same structure as that of the western world. The younger generation saw English mass culture as a true blessing and safeguard of freedom. But many adults fretted that Estonians were losing their identity; they were also concerned because many young people didn’t even know about the traditional Estonian holidays. The older generation wants young people to feel a responsibility to preserve our culture. Exposure to foreign mass culture is sometimes seen as having an adverse effect on the structure and vocabulary of the spoken and even written language. Characteristically, as a small nation, the Estonian identity is closely connected to our language. Estonian is one of

the world's smallest cultural languages to include contemporary terminology for all major fields of life. Recently, there has been a lively debate over the needs and possibilities to protect the national language from foreign influence. We borrow English words in ever increasing numbers, not merely terms from trade and commerce, but words of a much more important kind. English contributions to the Estonian lexicon have become more numerous and widespread. The interface between English and Estonian became even closer due to new means of communication. It is quite difficult to enumerate all the fields of human activities of Estonia on which English has exercised an influence. The result of English influence is that the Estonian language borrows English loan-words, adapts them, and

subsequently integrates them into our daily professional and personal vocabularies. Everyday, we hear words like “OK”, “good”, “shopping”, “pub”, “blockbuster”, “pop singer”, and “computer”. In the Estonian version of the popular TV game-show “Who wants to be a millionaire?” every contestant uses the English expression “fiftyfifty”. It seems ironic, then, that some parts of Estonian syntax show a 50:50 balance between ‘own’ Estonian and loan–stems. No one can doubt the present-day significance of American popular culture in Estonia. Entertainment such as movies, music, and television programs hold a special appeal to young people. The American moviemakers

obviously know what audiences like and enjoy to watch, and I am sure that the cinemas here would be empty without Hollywood. The American movie industry has been popular in Estonia since the 1990s and – in contrast to McDonald’s – young people don't think that Estonia is losing its cultural identity by watching exported movies from the United States. I think that American movies are a good way to spread American culture because often people are influenced by what they see on the “silver screen.” Most of the entertainment programs and documentaries we watch on TV are from America, and most of the movies we go to are made in Hollywood. Sometimes, the movie theaters are swamped with low-cost American films – violent action films. This type of