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View Full Version : Are Germans, Swedes, and the Dutch noticeably different from each other looks-wise?


astro
06-02-2004, 10:29 AM
ie - In an assembled group of just these three nationalities, could you have reasonable success in picking and sorting them out the crowd by natonality without hearing them speak?

Just curious.

Mycroft Holmes
06-02-2004, 10:46 AM
I'm German and live in the Netherlands, and I would definitely have trouble distinguishing the two nationalities just by looks. At least, if we are talking about pure-blooded Germans and Dutch. Here in the Netherlands, there is a lot of mixing with Indonesian and African (much more genetic mixing than in Germany), so I would place anyone with a genetic mix including Asian or African into the Dutch group, and would probably be correct.

As to the Swedes, I have no idea, although I think the horned hats might give them away. ;)

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
06-02-2004, 11:10 AM
I don't live there, but I think Mycroft must be right. The border between Germany and Holland is, from a linguistic and ethnic standpoint, fairly arbitrary. The geography and local dialects are very similar on either side of the line, even if the national standard languages are different.

Sevastopol
06-02-2004, 12:06 PM
Germany's a big place and there's a lot of variety in appearances there.

Holland and Sweden are small, comparitively. I agree it's difficult to seperate the Dutch from Germans, but to my eyes Swedes have always looked different.

Paler and more fair. Also you often see that inuit/asiatic featuring in Swedes that is common in all of Scandanavia, including the Russian parts.

Oswald Bastable
06-02-2004, 12:17 PM
I think you would be hard pressed to tell the nationality of any individual in a random sample of people from those three countries (or any selection of northern European countries) based on physical looks alone. Fashions and hair styles however, are a different matter...

OB

Padmaraga
06-02-2004, 12:18 PM
I remember reading, long ago in a book which I cannot now name, that the Germanic people are in a subgroup of Europeans called "alpine", while the Scandinavians (not counting the Lapplander-type) are in a subgroup called "nordic". The nordic group is supposedly taller than the alpine overall, and the book listed some other differences in appearance which I cannot list.

I'm ¼ Swede myself, and my aunt says I have a characteristic Swedish "squarehead."

I've always had people mistake me for Irish (sorry, not a bit) for my red hair. All my dad's family have red hair, which they got from their Swedish dad. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the Irish/Scottish gene for red hair came from invading Vikings. That's my theory.

syncrolecyne
06-02-2004, 01:14 PM
Northern Germans who speak "Niedersachsen" dialects are probably closer to Dutchmen than they are to Bavarians from Munich. Likewise thanks to the "Hansa" of the Middle Ages, people in cities such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lübeck, Germany and Riga, Latvia probably have as much or more genes in common with each other than the folks from their own countries hinterlands.

Anyway I would say that North Germans, Dutch, and Swedes share too many common links to be separated easily. Now South Germans and Austrians may look distinct enough, as a group, to be set apart. Of course no region or country consists of people with only one or two types, but groups or crowds of people can be roughly identified this way.

I would also bet anyone who could distinguish between neighboring European nationalities with some success would be relying heavily on factors such as dress, hairstyle, and gestures or expressions than "race" per se. Of course, as people become more internationalized, this is probably harder to discern.

Colibri
06-02-2004, 01:41 PM
I remember reading, long ago in a book which I cannot now name, that the Germanic people are in a subgroup of Europeans called "alpine", while the Scandinavians (not counting the Lapplander-type) are in a subgroup called "nordic". The nordic group is supposedly taller than the alpine overall, and the book listed some other differences in appearance which I cannot list.

I'm ¼ Swede myself, and my aunt says I have a characteristic Swedish "squarehead."

In technical anthropological terms, both Germans and Scandinavians belong to the "squarehead" group, while the Dutch are better characterized as "cheeseheads." :)

- Colibri, who is part squarehead himself.

astro
06-02-2004, 01:59 PM
I think you would be hard pressed to tell the nationality of any individual in a random sample of people from those three countries (or any selection of northern European countries) based on physical looks alone. Fashions and hair styles however, are a different matter...

OB

OK, assuming using innate physical characteristics isn't going to be that effective as a filter, except maybe at the far end of the morphological bell curve for the room (ie with a Swede vs a Bavarian say), I look at a mingling roomfull of Swedes, Germans and Danes at meeting break that features an international buffet, and have to sort them out without relying on hearing them speak. What are the giveaways? Clothing, hairstyle, teeth, womens makeup, mens suits, how they hold themselves, their expressions, how they drink? What they drink? Will some huddle while other mingle?

Charlie Tan
06-02-2004, 02:01 PM
Germany's a big place and there's a lot of variety in appearances there.

Holland and Sweden are small, comparitively. I agree it's difficult to seperate the Dutch from Germans, but to my eyes Swedes have always looked different.

Paler and more fair. Also you often see that inuit/asiatic featuring in Swedes that is common in all of Scandanavia, including the Russian parts.
:confused:
Let's start by taking away a bunch of misconceptions: While Germany has the largest population of Europe (~83 mill.) it's nowhere the largest in size, at ~138.000 sq.miles, it's quite a bit smaller than Sweden's 174.000 sq. miles. Holland is indeed tiny at 16.000 sq.miles.

From a purely genetical viewpoint, there's little or no differance between the three nationalities. Fashion, hair style and attitudes give away nationality, but not pure physical appearence.

Lastly, I suppose you mean the Lapps (more properly The Saami) who indeed come from a totally different genetic stock, somewhat similar to the inuit, mostly because they're almost always black haired. They're nowhere as stocky as inuit and don't have much in common with the 'Asian' eyes. They're also a minority, numbering only about 20.000, so their contribution to the Swedish genepool is small, almost nonexistent.

Their are more dark people in Sweden than the stereotype makes common. Original Swedes (Vikings, if you wish) where reddish blondes, looking more like you imagine the stereotypical Scot. The blond/fair comes from Slavic influence (Vikings brought a lot of slaves from the area which is now Russia) and the darker parts came from Belgium/France during the 1600's.
... the horned hats ...
I saw the smilie, but this is still one of my pet peeves: Vikings did not have horns on their helmets

Likewise thanks to the "Hansa" of the Middle Ages, people in cities such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lübeck, Germany and Riga, Latvia probably have as much or more genes in common with each other than the folks from their own countries hinterlands.
Close, but no cigarr. The Hansa cities did not include Stockholm or Copenhagen. And while the merchants of the Hansa travelled extensively, they didn't mix well with the locals. Rememeber, these where the upperclass, with wealth and position. I'm sure there was more than one stray child left behind but the Hansa was more of an economic, than a social force.

Basically, we're all 'Germanic' stock. The Goth, as in Visigoths, come from Sweden, our languages have common roots and the Vikings where more of a 'maffia' doing business by force, than conquering warriors. Waterways where faster and many times safer a 1000 years ago in this region, so naturally, a lot of people mixed, but saying that the Hansa was that influential is not right. The organization lasted for maybe 300 years, but the real impact was fram late 1200's to the middle of 1400's, a brief period considering that we've been travelling around, trading and mixing the genepool for about 1500 years.

Charlie Tan
06-02-2004, 02:11 PM
What are the giveaways? Clothing, hairstyle, teeth, womens makeup, mens suits, how they hold themselves, their expressions, how they drink? What they drink? Will some huddle while other mingle?

Sweden is part of the vodka belt, whereas Germany and Holland are part of the beer belt. Swedes tend to drink the same way as Russians, Scots and the Irish do - heavily until reaching unconciousness. For some reason, the Mullet survived well into the 90's in Germany and is still seen every now and then. There also seems to be a preference for moustaches among Germans, something very rare in Sweden.
I dunno, maybe it's something we're raised to see, but I can always spot a German tourist in Sweden, without hearing them talk, but almost never a Dutch tourist.

Tapioca Dextrin
06-02-2004, 03:04 PM
the Dutch are better characterized as "cheeseheads." :)

I thought the preferred term was Clogboys :D

Tusculan
06-02-2004, 03:27 PM
What follows are my own personal opinions, which are not necessarily representative of Dutch opinions as a whole.

Purely physically speaking there is not much difference. However, in some cases you can tell a person is German because of a different 'posture', a manner of moving or standing which seems slightly 'stiffer' from common Dutch. Similarly you may sometimes see facial differences with Scandinavians. I think it has to do with keeping your face in a specific manner because you have to pronounce certain words in a certain way.

However, I cannot give exact figures about proportion of people. Living in Amsterdam may influence my perception because I may see more stereotypical tourists.

Quasimodem
06-02-2004, 03:46 PM
ie - In an assembled group of just these three nationalities, could you have reasonable success in picking and sorting them out the crowd by natonality without hearing them speak?

Just curious.

Depending on which direction you choose to look. Stereotyping is allowed here, ja? *S*

The Dutch will have the bigger hands, the Swedes the fairer skin and the lightest hair, and we Krauts der biggest Schwanzes. (How else were we gonna do that Lebensraum thing?) :D

Dammit, I'm sorry! Of course this isn't a scientific observation! It's just me being a smartarsch. I couldn't resist. Been away from here too long I guess. Somebody take me to the pit and chastise my sorry German ass! ;)

(I'll just love y'all anyway! ;);))

Q

kniz
06-02-2004, 05:03 PM
I just got back from 12 days in Amsterdam, Trondheim and the boonies of Sweden. I could not tell a Swede from a Norwegian or the Dutch from either of them. Of course, I was more worried about them sterotyping me and my wife. I loved them all. :D

gum
06-02-2004, 06:42 PM
hehehehe Quasimodem :)

Not only have the Dutch the biggest hands, apparently we have the biggest feet as well.
astro, Look for persons with shoes, the size of a canoe. They're Dutch. :D

gum
06-02-2004, 07:04 PM
Oh, and kniz, [I submitted too soon and then my computer went on the blink] Don't worry about us stereotyping you. We love you too.

I hope you had a great time. Come back soon! :)

John Mace
06-02-2004, 07:06 PM
Lastly, I suppose you mean the Lapps (more properly The Saami) who indeed come from a totally different genetic stock, somewhat similar to the inuit, mostly because they're almost always black haired. They're nowhere as stocky as inuit and don't have much in common with the 'Asian' eyes. They're also a minority, numbering only about 20.000, so their contribution to the Swedish genepool is small, almost nonexistent.

Not necessarily. From Genes, Peoples, and Languages by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza:

The Saami are gentically European, but the also have affinities with non-Europeans, probably as a result of their trans-Uralic origins... their Uralic origins are partly masked by admixture with North Europeans, or vice-versa. In any case, the European genetic element predominates.

So it's unlcear what their "genetic stock" is, but today they are mostly European.

Also (and you're not the only offender here), there is no such country as "Holland". It's The Netherlands. Holland is a geographic area inside of The Netherlands.

rocking chair
06-02-2004, 07:34 PM
there is a certain blue eye colour that i've only seen in dutch people, or people with dutch relatives. it is a really clear, beautiful, blue. hard to describe in words, but when i see it, i know it and i haven't been wrong yet (touch wood).

in one family, out of 5 kids only 1 had the blue. so i'm figuring in it may not occur too often.

there is a certain shade of blond as well that, to me, is very dutch. i've only seen it combined with the "dutch" blue eyes. i've not seen it in the scan. and german blonds.

in the midwest of the us you have a huge spectrum of blonds and blues. this "dutch" combo really sticks out to me. when i was in college i met a girl while watching tv in the common room. we introduced and laughed that we both were jensens. i looked at her and said you must have a dutch person in your family some where. she was very surprised and said, "yes, my grandmother on my mother's side." "How could you tell?" she had the "dutch" combo, it was obvious to me. most people didn't look beyound the danish.

MLS
06-02-2004, 08:49 PM
This is an old story, but an Asian fellow I once worked with was unable to recognize a fair-skinned, freckled, redheaded lass as Irish, and did not perceive her as being all that different from the Italian lady at the next desk. "You all look alike to us," he said. OTOH, what was very clear to him was the difference between a Vietnamese, a Japanese, a Korean, and various parts of China.

Sevastopol
06-02-2004, 08:53 PM
Re: Swedes & other scandanavians; Asiatic features.

It's not the asiatic complexion, but rather, the features that I've noticed.

Wider & more square faces, less pronounced nose and jaws and occasionally eyes similar to asiatic peoples. Now that I think about it, there's straighter hair too.

Mycroft Holmes
06-03-2004, 04:24 AM
I remember reading, long ago in a book which I cannot now name, that the Germanic people are in a subgroup of Europeans called "alpine", while the Scandinavians (not counting the Lapplander-type) are in a subgroup called "nordic". The nordic group is supposedly taller than the alpine overall, and the book listed some other differences in appearance which I cannot list.

Actually, currently the Dutch are considered to have the largest average height (just above six feet or 184 cm for men, and 5'7" or 171 cm for women). Also, according to most statistics the average height of the Dutch is still increasing, while other "tall" people like the Norwegians and Swedes are not increasing their average height.

Cite. (http://rnw.nl/health/html/tall_dutch.html)
Cite. (http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040405fa_fact)

PookahMacPhellimey
06-03-2004, 06:11 AM
My hometown in Holland is ten minutes on a bicycle (of course). Every Saturday lots and lots of Germans come to this town to shop. Historically fruit, veg, coffee and cigarettes were cheaper, now I think it is more to do with it being a day out.

The point is that in a certain part of town you'll find more Germans than Dutch and all the shopkeepers will speak German to their customers. However, the local shopkeepers will without fail address me or my family in Dutch. They can tell you're local. I think it's more by the dress style, but I've never ever known them to get it wrong.

PookahMacPhellimey
06-03-2004, 06:16 AM
Ten minutes from Germany that is. Sorry.

Charlie Tan
06-03-2004, 08:20 AM
Wider & more square faces, less pronounced nose and jaws and occasionally eyes similar to asiatic peoples. Now that I think about it, there's straighter hair too.
Yupp (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/dräkt%20liten.jpg) them (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/michaelNY.JPG) Saami (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/modeson051_RJ.JPG) sure (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/seminarium020_RJ.JPG) are (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/minimus010_RJ.JPG) funny (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/rokkas011_RJ.JPG) looking (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/rokkas006_RJ.JPG) people. (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/bjornen002_RJ.JPG)

Well, their traditional clothes are, but your original statement was: Also you often see that inuit/asiatic featuring in Swedes that is common in all of Scandanavia, including the Russian parts.
This is clearly wrong. The Saami number maybe 80.000 in all (in Finland, Sweden, Russia and Norway). If anything, their features have been changed through mixing with the 'Scandinavian' stock, not the other way around. Your statement that Asian/Inuit features are common here because influence of the Saami is just wrong.

Sevastopol
06-03-2004, 09:19 AM
Your statement that Asian/Inuit features are common here because influence of the Saami is just wrong.

How lucky then that I never made that statement.

I haven't really thought about where those Asian/Inuit features come from. On reflection I imagine the major source would be the Russian peoples. I suppose there could be a Saami influence too. As far as Inuit peoples, they are a presence in Denmark and Iceland, so I imagine they might be in the rest of Scandanvia.

From memory, the early inhabitants of Scandanavia were Viking peoples originally from central European Russia. So that may explain it too.

swannguy
06-03-2004, 09:26 AM
Well I come from Maastricht, which is located what is commonly known as the Euregio..............and it might just be me but I can pick out Germans and Swedes, like I can pick out different coloured socks. It's hard for me explain how but I just can.........I see a person and be like "Yup, he's German".

I have a question also...................is it just me or do people from my area (Limburg) have an easier time picking up on languages? It seems to Dutch from 'above the rivers' seem to have a harder time learning languages. Having said that - I do feel that the Dutch in general pick up on languages easier than other Europeans.........I mean have you ever witnessed a british person learning Spanish? Trust me.......you do not want to witness

Sevastopol
06-03-2004, 09:29 AM
For the sort of Asiatic/Inuit features I have in mind I'll borrow The Gaspode's first image.

Features (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/dräkt%20liten.jpg)

PookahMacPhellimey
06-03-2004, 10:24 AM
I have a question also...................is it just me or do people from my area (Limburg) have an easier time picking up on languages?

So am I. Limburgers of the world, unite! Although Mestreech people are there own little republic, I think. :)

As for your question. I've never given it much thought. I think Hollanders maybe have a bit more of an accent. Perhaps it is because the stereotypical Dutchie accents that people imitate or that you see on ads for Dutch beer etc. are always from the middle of the country, so people pick up those accents as Dutch immediately whereas they can't place us? Hmmm, bit of a crackpot theory. Maybe it's in our heads, swannguy.

august9
06-03-2004, 10:36 AM
As far as Inuit peoples, they are a presence in Denmark and Iceland, so I imagine they might be in the rest of Scandanvia.
They are a presence in Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark, but very few Greenlandic Inuit people lives in Denmark. Also, between the 13th and the 19th century there wasn't much real contact between Greenland and Scandinavia.
And as far as I know, inuits have never lived on Iceland. The people of Iceland are descended from (mostly) Norwegian vikings.

From memory, the early inhabitants of Scandanavia were Viking peoples originally from central European Russia. So that may explain it too.
This isn't quite true - at least not for Denmark, I don't know about Sweden and Norway.
The oldest known settlement in Denmark that we know of, is from about 9000 b.c. and it's believed that those people probably came from middle europe. Later on, around 3000 b.c. there might have been immigration of indo-europeans. That's the closest I can get to "peoples originally from central European Russia". In general Denmark was inhabitated by people immigrating from the south.

Much later on, around 400 a.d., Denmark was (probably and apparantly and as far as we know) invaded by a tribe living in Sweden - called Danes, and they are probably the forefathers of the vikings. The age of the vikings is usually put as the time from about 790 a.d. to 1000 a.d. The people living in Scandinavia earlier than this was not vikings.

Charlie Tan
06-03-2004, 10:47 AM
Sevastopol - this is getting stupid. Can't you read what you yourself wrote: "Also you often see that inuit/asiatic featuring in Swedes that is common in all of Scandanavia, including the Russian parts.". How can you claim not to have said that? The only influence remotely 'Asian/Inuit' are the Saami. There is, as I said in my first post, a Slavic influence, and while that possibly, by stretching meanings beyond snapping point, could be construed as being 'Asian', I find the connection too far fetched.

Now, your statement that there are Inuits in Iceland and Denmark is true, but the numbers are so small it can hardly be considered a great influence. According to the official statistics bureau (http://hagstofa.is/) of Iceland, 50 individuals where born on Greenland. In the whole country. I can't find statistics breaking it down to ethnic origin, but even with Icelands small population of 290.000, there doesn't seem to be enough Eskimos (which is a perfectly polite term, BTW) to make an impact.

In Denmakr, the figure is 7.000, out of about 5 million (cite (http://ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=Denmark)). That a lot of them have succumbed to alcoholism and are begging for money and pestering tourists and the train station in Copenhagen, making them quite visible, doesn't change the fact that their influence on the Danish genepool is smallish, especially since many Danes view them with racism and contempt.

Sevastopol
06-03-2004, 10:50 AM
Thankyou august9

I believe you are right. Although speaking of Iceland, a famous person with strong Scandanvian/Asiatic features is Bjork. I'm surprised to see such a strong asiatic look actually.

The "central European Russians" I was thinking of, were the Vikings. I'm fairly sure that's where they came from originally.

Evidently you're right though, Scandanavia was inhabited much earlier than I recalled.

Anyway my speculation is that the Asiatic look came from the early Vikings.

Charlie Tan
06-03-2004, 11:17 AM
:throws hands in the air:

I give up. Reading comprehension is down. Russia is in Scandinavia. Vikings were Asians. This is going to take a lot longer than we thought.

gum
06-03-2004, 12:36 PM
The Gaspode Don't bother with some posters. Maybe they're glasses-less? ;)

Swannguy & PookahMacPhellimey, I guess the Dutch as a whole speak different laguages [of a sort, hehehe] We have to. Practically no-one in the world speaks ours, so we're taught English, German and French at school. Let's not get swanky, huh. We have a bad name enough as it is. :D


Mycroft Holmes Thank you for those links. The studies of John Komlos are very interesting and enlightning. It must be our love for milk that makes us so tall. I'm so glad that makes up to our large feet. :)

Dunderman
06-03-2004, 12:47 PM
I'm Swedish, and I say it's impossible to distinguish Germans from Swedes from Dutch by looks alone. So there.

The Gaspode, take a deep breath. We all know you're right.
sevastopol, you're wrong. No matter how you spin it, no "Asian" look is common in Scandinavia. The Vikings did not look Asian. Mmm'kay?

MinniePurl
06-03-2004, 12:59 PM
there is a certain blue eye colour that i've only seen in dutch people, or people with dutch relatives. it is a really clear, beautiful, blue. hard to describe in words, but when i see it, i know it and i haven't been wrong yet (touch wood).

there is a certain shade of blond as well that, to me, is very dutch. i've only seen it combined with the "dutch" blue eyes. i've not seen it in the scan. and german blonds.

Is it anything like this (http://img45.photobucket.com/albums/v139/Shoeburyness/Other/DSCN1739.jpg)? (A picture of my husband, who has Dutch ancestry. )

rocking chair
06-03-2004, 07:01 PM
it is hard to tell in pictures because there is a.... um.... boy do i need a really good adj..... sparkle-ish quality to the blue. pictures flatten it out. the sparkle seems to be in rays on the blue.

handsome fellow you've got there!

aruvqan
06-03-2004, 07:35 PM
it is hard to tell in pictures because there is a.... um.... boy do i need a really good adj..... sparkle-ish quality to the blue. pictures flatten it out. the sparkle seems to be in rays on the blue.

handsome fellow you've got there!

I agree, very cute=)

So, [ignoring the name of the picture, a friend of mine took the picture and they named the file and i am too lazy to change it] Where is Chris from?

http://geocities.com/aruvqann/selbst.jpg

Johanna
06-03-2004, 10:34 PM
And as far as I know, inuits have never lived on Iceland. The people of Iceland are descended from (mostly) Norwegian vikings.How do you explain Björk (http://unit.bjork.com/specials/pics/misc/exposededit.jpg)? She looks more Skraeling than anything else.

Sevastopol
06-04-2004, 01:34 AM
Other Scandanavian faces with some asiatic features:

Mika Hakkinen (http://100megsfree4.com/formula1/spain2000.jpg)

The previous young lady (http://samiskaveckan.sapmi.net/dräkt%20liten.jpg)

Myglaren
06-04-2004, 06:44 AM
How do you explain Björk (http://unit.bjork.com/specials/pics/misc/exposededit.jpg)? She looks more Skraeling than anything else.

That's the nicest picture of Björk that I have yet seen

Carry on.

Charlie Tan
06-04-2004, 07:46 AM
How do you explain Björk (http://unit.bjork.com/specials/pics/misc/exposededit.jpg)? She looks more Skraeling than anything else.

Almond shaped eyes is not Inuit/Asian, it's the fold over the eyes that distinguish them. It's not her natural hair color either.

We weren't discussing superficial features in this thread, remember.

Dunderman
06-04-2004, 09:57 AM
We weren't discussing superficial features in this thread, remember.
It's worth noting that we're not discussing individual people either.

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