Mia san mia 

Possibly the last place in the world I expected to come across the motto of FC Bayern Munich was on the inside upper arm of a sales assistant in a gift shop in Detroit’s wonderful, Art Deco Guardian Building. The Bavarian slogan was tattooed in Gothic letters, and, although the bearer was wearing a T-shirt, its position was such that I mightn’t have noticed it at all if we hadn’t got talking.
We’d already exchanged an obligatory few pleasantries when he asked, “What accent do I detect there?”
What indeed.
Having lived the majority of my adult life in Germany, I could be forgiven for having gone somewhat native, even if I couldn’t forgive myself.
“What do you reckon?”
“Irish?”
A map of the British Isles flashed before my inner eye. It’d been over a quarter of century since I’d last spent any length of time in Eire, though – much too long either to have absented myself from its many charms or to have had a lasting impact on my mode of speech. I negated, and we talked some more.
“Dutch?”
Now that was an informed guess! I lifted the mystery on my accent and the Teutonic influence upon my native Shropshire.
Mention of Germany reminded the assistant of his ancestry. Furthermore, when he found out I lived in Bavaria, the time had come to display his tattoo. Then we talked football – soccer – at such length and depth that I surprised even myself. Finally, a phone call curtailed our discussion. He answered it; I looked around the shop.
My ability to take in the Michigan mugs and Belle Isle T-shirts was limited by my consideration of the sales assistant’s tattoo. In the Bavarian dialect, “Mia san mia” means “We are we” or, a little more expansively, “We are who we are”. As such, it’s a take-it-or-leave-it kind of statement. It expresses a degree of self-confidence and a sense of identity which I’m totally in awe of. Never having associated myself with any group, is it any wonder my accent is so hard to place?