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Old 02-07-2015, 09:54 PM
 
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I've heard people saying 2 different things about the "America" part in the name of the USA. Some people say "America" here refers to the continent of America under a system that does not recognize the Americas as 2 continents. The others say that "America" is actually the name of the country, similar to the "Federal Republic of Germany".

So which one is it? Or neither?
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Type 0.7 Kardashev
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmFest View Post
I've heard people saying 2 different things about the "America" part in the name of the USA. Some people say "America" here refers to the continent of America under a system that does not recognize the Americas as 2 continents. The others say that "America" is actually the name of the country, similar to the "Federal Republic of Germany".

So which one is it? Or neither?
The first attested use of the term "United States of America" dates to 1776. At this time, the consensus concept of 'continents' held that there were four of them - Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The notion of the New World consisting of two continents didn't really begin at all until the late 18th century, and did not gain broad use U.S. until well into the 19th century.

So, yes, 'America' simply refered to the New World as a whole, with the 'United States' part referring to the numerous colonial entities which had declared their independence from Great Britain and established a union (when the phrase was coined, this was a very loose confederacy that would firm up a bit under the Articles to come, significantly more with the establishment of the Constitution, and gradually more still with the development of the state in the subsequent 200+ years).

This doesn't change the fact the name of the state in question is often simply rendered 'America', in the same way that the name of the country which translates in English to the 'United Mexican States' is often simply shortened/changed to 'Mexico'.
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Old 02-08-2015, 01:57 PM
 
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Both.

I think of America got tacked on because at one time United Colonies or United Provinces had been proposed and gathered a bit of steam, but that was at one time (maybe still even then) was the name of the Netherlands so "of Maerica" got added to differentiate and stuck around even once United States was settled on.
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Old 02-10-2015, 03:03 AM
Status: "My eyes are rolled back so far I can see my brain." (set 26 days ago)
 
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If you look at a map of the western hemisphere from 1776, you will clearly see South America referred to as South America. (for example: http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~1927~120033:-Composite-of--A-Map-Of-South-Ameri ). Those who named the USA could have used "The United States of North America" if they thought of the American continents as two distinct entities. Instead, they considered it as one entity, distinct from the eastern hemisphere. The name "America" was not intended as interchangeable with "The United States of America" although it became so as a matter of convenience. The united states were considered separate countries joined in one union, but gradually came to be considered one country.
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