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America vs. United States

In Spanish class our instructor told us that we should refer to ourselves as estadounidense (united states-ian) rather than americano (American) when talking to foreigners, particularly those from the American continental land mass(es).  Apparently, in Mexico, americano is derragatory, sort of making fun of US citizens for claiming the Americas... It's hard to explain, but conceptually it really makes sense.  Apparently, there is a political song from Mexico called 'yo soy americano tambien' (I'm an American, too) or something like that.  Jeez, just when I feel 'culturally aware' something wakes me up and reminds me of how much I have to work on.  (Like not ending sentences with 'on'.)

From now on, I'm a United States citizen.  I think American should be a term of solidarity among the US, Mexico, Canada, etc.

What does everyone else think?

I was JUST thinking about this!  I agree.  We are the United States. 
Thanks for the info!  Now I really know not to use the term "American." 

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i realized this when i met a guy from brazil, i told him i was from the us, but we were hanging out with someone else and he asked them where they are from, they said america, and he said, well, where in america, south america?  north america?  central america? what country are you from.  it just clicked.  oh yeah.  we aren't the only america.

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works for me. i hate the word "america" b/c it is the only one i can think that really rhymes with ma name  ???

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It's kinda typical of alot of us(americans) to think we are the only ones.  makes sense for us to specivfy we are from the united states

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It's kinda typical of alot of us(americans) to think we are the only ones.  makes sense for us to specivfy we are from the united states

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Yes, indeed, Canada and Mexico are also in North America.

The world is not the US and the US is not the world.

No other country that I know of uses the national adjective like a talisman in the way the US news does. The way they say "the American people" as if they really meant "the chosen ones of God" or something.

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I already avoid calling myself American when talking to other people.  And I finds Indians and Indians confusing, too.  Thank goodness we're moving toward "Native Americans," but that's always seemed ignorant, too, because we're only talking about peoples native to the States.  (I thought it was the anthropologist in me overthinking it.  I'm happy I'm not the only one troubled by this.)

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And I finds Indians and Indians confusing, too.  Thank goodness we're moving toward "Native Americans," but that's always seemed ignorant, too, because we're only talking about peoples native to the States.  (I thought it was the anthropologist in me overthinking it.  I'm happy I'm not the only one troubled by this.)

Yes. I sadly sometimes have to say "Indians from India," but of course there are all kinds of problems with that too. Here, I believe "Native American" is the (publicly) accepted term, but I dunno. I guess knowing the tribe affiliation would be best?

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Agreed all around. This is one of the things that I took from working on an international study. There are two continents' worth of "America," we just happened to be in the "United States."

I like how in Spanish there's a way to personalize it, though... saying a "United States-ian." That does get cumbersome. I guess "U.S. citizens" is the closest?

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And I finds Indians and Indians confusing, too.  Thank goodness we're moving toward "Native Americans," but that's always seemed ignorant, too, because we're only talking about peoples native to the States.  (I thought it was the anthropologist in me overthinking it.  I'm happy I'm not the only one troubled by this.)

Yes. I sadly sometimes have to say "Indians from India," but of course there are all kinds of problems with that too. Here, I believe "Native American" is the (publicly) accepted term, but I dunno. I guess knowing the tribe affiliation would be best?

They were living on this continent well before there ever WAS a United States.

And also, I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with in this case assuming that we really do mean "Native to the Continent." But yes, a specific tribal affiliation whenever possible would help.

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I've worked with a tribal groups and within them what I've found is the preferred reference is age dependent.  The older people call themselves Indians, the middle-aged people call themselves Native Americans, and the younger people call themselves by their group name.  For example, in California there are Mono, but the younger people I know probably wouldn't call themselves Mono, they'd call themselves their local name, like Num (kind of pronounced noom).  A lot of Anglicized names are tricky.  Like if someone asked one group what another group was called, they might get the word for "stupid idiots" or something.  The English names for groups lacks contextual meaning for the group itself.

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Hmmm, this is interesting.
It has always bugged me how people that I have known from the US have always referred to themselves as American.  When I have stated that they should say that they are from the US rather than America they thought I was being awkward.  So I always thought it was just me being picky.
I dunno - it's like some sort of arrogance to think that when someone says America it is obviously the US, like other American countries don't count as really being  American - does that make sense (or does it sound like I'm just being a bitch!)

(Sorry if I have offended anyone I didn't mean to)

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I don't think it's arrogance on the part of most people.  I think it stems from just taking the last part of United States of America, so it's more of a short cut. 

I also don't think I call myself by my country identification often.  Mostly, it's by state.  So, I'm tons more likely to say that I'm Californian, even to someone from a different continent.  I don't know if that's true for most people.  California is pretty recognizable for people around the world because of the entertainment industry, so maybe it works easier for me.

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You're most probably right HH - just so happens that the 2 people that I'm thinking of were also very arrogant people, so that is what springs to my mind.

I like the fact that you can describe yourself by state - there's not many people / places in the UK that do that.  I think Liverpudlians are the only people that I have ever really heard describing themselves by the city they are from - but that's also a very sweeping generalisation from me!  ::)

eta: my spelling was a bit bad in that post - hopefully all better now!

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So, I'm tons more likely to say that I'm Californian.

This would cause to much confusion if I did this.

"Hi, I'm Georgian.  No, not the Russian (Eurasian?) one, the American ( :-D ::)) one."

I also agree it's based on it being the last part of US, but I still think that most United Statesians are arrogant.  Most, not all.

And I blame Lee Greenwood, too.
http://culturekitchen.com/files/images/web_Lee_Greenwood.jpg

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Ha!  But if you said you were from Georgia and they thought you were from Soviet invaded Georgia, they might send you vegan care packages.  I'd try it.

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I generally say I'm "from the US".  I don't like to call myself American because I'm going for permanent residence and most likely citizenship in Australia.  But "American" seems to be the more formal term here, and the informal term is "yank" (which most Aussies think is just a cool word they made up, they don't realize it's short for "yankee" and they don't understand why people from the southern US sometimes get offended by it).
Australians have nicknames for just about every nationality (frog=French, pom=English etc), and it's very socially accepted, not at all like the US where you need to be politically correct.  One of my Aussie friends was going to the US and wanted to know what to call people...he came up to me and asked "so, Mexicans are called 'spicks' right?"  "Um, NO.  Mexicans are Mexicans, or Hispanics."  He didn't realize that that kind of language can be offensive.

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To offer a dissenting view, I find most of the comments posted in this thread to take  "political correctness" (which is really a "political falsehood" in this case) to the silliest levels of absurdity possible. >:(

The only one who gets it is humboldt_honey:
" I don't think it's arrogance on the part of most people.  I think it stems from just taking the last part of United States of America, so it's more of a short cut."  ;)b

EXACTLY. Our country is THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. To my knowledge, we are the only country in North America, Central America, or South America that contains America in the name of the country. When people in another country ask me where I am from, sometimes I say  "U.S.", and sometimes I say "AMERICA."

Yes, citizens of Brazil, Panama and Mexico are "Americans' by continent, but the issue is country of origin or citizenship, not continent. The name of their country is not Brazil of America, Panama of America, or Mexico of America.

yabbitgirl
"Yes, indeed, Canada and Mexico are also in North America.
The world is not the US and the US is not the world.
"

How does saying I am an American equate to the proposition that Canada and Mexico are not in North America, or that the U.S. is the world? "The way they say "the American people" as if they really meant "the chosen ones of God" or something." Who are "they"? What is your country of origin or citizenship?

caroleena
" This is one of the things that I took from working on an international study. There are two continents' worth of "America," we just happened to be in the "United States." "

And we just happen to live in the only country in the Americas which has America in the name of the country. Exactly what kind of "international study" was this? I am certainly not an expert in geography, so I  must ask you, where is Central America - is it in North America or South America?

shelloid
"When I have stated that they should say that they are from the US rather than America they thought I was being awkward."
Do you think it is appropriate to tell citizens of other nations HOW they are to refer to the IDENTITY of their own country?

Lastly, to Charbot Kimzoid,as to your comment, " I still think that most United Statesians are arrogant.  Most, not all," this kind of reminds me of a statement my brother-in-law (former pescetarian) made a couple of weeks ago. He told me "vegans are mean." (He was serious; he wasn't joking)  Guess he should have said, "Most, not all."

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I got my perspective from John McWhorter, a linguist who has described how language and words change - usually by people taking short cuts.  I don't see how that relates to "political correctness."  Please explain.

eta:  "United States of America" was named because after the Revolutionary War the new government decided to go with sovereign states and a central government - "united States" is the term used in the Declaration of Independence.  And the "of America" part is identifying them as being in the Americas rather than Europe.  History and etymology don't support the US being named in a big scheme to take credit for all of North and South America.

eta2:  I just found wiki's country name entymology.  It's cool.  Canada's translation is "settlement," Brazil is named after the brazilwood tree, Panama's translation is "place of many fish," and Mexico is named after the Mexica branch of the Aztecs (the meaning of Mexxica is debated).  So, basically, the countries were named after things in the local area.  I don't think that it means much that we are United States of Americans rather than Lobsterians or Blueberrians.

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I got my perspective from John McWhorter, a linguist who has described how language and words change - usually by people taking short cuts.  I don't see how that relates to "political correctness."  Please explain.

HH -

I don't disagree with your perspective  ??? - not saying what you said relates to political correctness, but the tone of most of the posts did clearly suggest that those of us in the U.S.A should indicate we are from the U.S. and should not say we are Americans or from America. The only possible reason for this is political correctness, that it is somehow is demeaning to the people of all the other countries in the Americas for us to call ourselves Americans. When it comes to the name of our nation, the U.S., U.S.A., United States, United States of America  and America are ALL synonymous and are interchangeable terms.

Using a commonly and internationally understood word, America, as the name of my country, does not make me arrogant, does not make me superior or inferior to anyone else, and has nothing to do with whether I am or am not one of God's chosen people.
::)

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