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Old 07-19-2011, 12:22 PM
 
Location: Earth
1,529 posts, read 1,442,774 times
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Hello everybody!

Teaching English as a second language in Cambridge, MA and I had quite the vigorous with some of my students today. They were saying that Americans think that we're the center of the world (okay, there's some truth to that) and that calling ourselves Americans was an example of that. Their argument was that everybody from North, Central and South American are "Americans" because they are from the giant, supercontinent known as America. To them, Brazilians are Americans, Canadians are Americans, etc...

I've heard the argument before so it was nothing new. But, my question for them is, and you guys as well, "what should we call ourselves?" The United States doesn't have a proper name other than The United States of America. Should we be the "The United Statesers?" That sounds weird and we're also not the only united collection of states in the world.

So, what is our new name? (please forgo names like Fatties, Gringos and World Dominators...we already went through them in my class
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:51 PM
Status: "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast." (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
17,367 posts, read 20,109,830 times
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Yanks. But then the former C.S.A.ers will get their knickers in a bind. :-)

In my experience, Almost everyone in the world calls people from the U.S.A., 'Americans' except for some Latin Americans, especially Argentinians who also often refer to the selves as 'Americans' despite having the perfectly good name, 'Argentinian'.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Seattle
620 posts, read 1,187,752 times
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I don't buy into the whole, "we are self-centered because we call ourselves Americans". Quite frankly, we received our independence from our colonial rulers much earlier than all of those South American countries. We were identified by European countries as being the Americans because we obtained that independence while Brazil, Argentina, etc. were still part of colonial governments. Thus, it is more of a 1st in time thing rather than a self-centered thing. If I was the teacher, I would kindly inform them of that fact, but that's why I didn't last as a teacher.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:53 PM
 
13,510 posts, read 15,665,419 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Siobhan View Post
I don't buy into the whole, "we are self-centered because we call ourselves Americans". Quite frankly, we received our independence from our colonial rulers much earlier than all of those South American countries. We were identified by European countries as being the Americans because we obtained that independence while Brazil, Argentina, etc. were still part of colonial governments. Thus, it is more of a 1st in time thing rather than a self-centered thing. If I was the teacher, I would kindly inform them of that fact, but that's why I didn't last as a teacher.
Far more to the point than nationalist puffing is the fact that we called our nation the United States of America and that is how it was recognized by other nations.

Mexico is the United Mexican States, Brazil is the Federative Republic of Brazil, and so on.

The United States of America - to my knowledge is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to use "America" as part of its name, and it is the only country in which the citizens refer to their country as "America." Otherwise we have Brazilians calling their country "Brazil" for short, the Canadian refer to theirs as "Canada" for short, etc.

So, it has poop to do with when the U.S. achieved indepedence vs other nations in the hemisphere, and everything to with the way in which the countries of this hemisphere have named themselves formally and in shortened forms.

The objection to the United States of America shortening its name to America comes from ignorance of the names of the countries in this hemisphere, and those ESL students should hit the books and do some homework before they start banging their lips together in any language again.
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:02 PM
 
13,510 posts, read 15,665,419 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
Yanks. But then the former C.S.A.ers will get their knickers in a bind. :-)

In my experience, Almost everyone in the world calls people from the U.S.A., 'Americans' except for some Latin Americans, especially Argentinians who also often refer to the selves as 'Americans' despite having the perfectly good name, 'Argentinian'.
And despite the fact that they have chosen to call their country República Agentina (Argentine Republic) and not the Argentine Republic of America. Thus, they are South Americans by virtue of where the Argentine Republic is located, whereas the citizens of the United State of America are Americans because they incorporated the word America into the name of their nation, and North Americans because that is the continent upon which it is located.
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Earth
24,629 posts, read 26,070,982 times
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The US is listed at the bottom of pick lists for countries; it's not known as America officially.

In conversation, I hear the US as much as, if not more, than America.
It may just be where I live.

I always say that I'm from the US.
I think it's arrogant to take the name of a continent. There are two continents North and South America.
Before you try to dismiss me, I'm not telling you what to do.
I'm telling you what I do.
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:08 PM
 
Location: Sweden
23,883 posts, read 67,598,507 times
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US citizens are americans,the others are canadians,brazilians,mexicans and so on.
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Seattle
620 posts, read 1,187,752 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
Far more to the point than nationalist puffing is the fact that we called our nation the United States of America and that is how it was recognized by other nations.

Mexico is the United Mexican States, Brazil is the Federative Republic of Brazil, and so on.

The United States of America - to my knowledge is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to use "America" as part of its name, and it is the only country in which the citizens refer to their country as "America." Otherwise we have Brazilians calling their country "Brazil" for short, the Canadian refer to theirs as "Canada" for short, etc.

So, it has poop to do with when the U.S. achieved indepedence vs other nations in the hemisphere, and everything to with the way in which the countries of this hemisphere have named themselves formally and in shortened forms.

The objection to the United States of America shortening its name to America comes from ignorance of the names of the countries in this hemisphere, and those ESL students should hit the books and do some homework before they start banging their lips together in any language again.
Actually, there was the Federal Republic of Central America that was formed after several Spanish colonies obtained their independence in the early 1800s. That state eventually dissolved decades later and several smaller nations (Costa Rica, Guatemala, etc.) were formed. So, I don't buy that it is because the US is the only nation to formally have America in its name.
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,661 posts, read 78,634,155 times
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European settlers in Australia call themselves as Australian, disregarding the interests of the Aboriginal Australians, to whom they are not related. Nobody makes a fuss. So why is it any different for people in the USA to disregard the original Americans, in calling themselves Americans.

I've been in every country in Latin America, and lived in five of them, and not one person has ever told me that he is an American. Their country has a name, and they call themselves by the name of their country (with justifiable pride). So do we.

Now, if there were several other countries that called themselves the Republic of America and the Federated States of America and the Provinces of America, then there could be a problem. But there are no such countries, so there is no problem. Everybody knows what country people are from if they call themselves Americans.

The name "United States" is not unique, either. For a part of their respective histories, there were countries that called themselves the United States of Mexico, the United States of Venezuela, and the United States of Brazil. I guess if we really had to, we could call ourselves "Usavia" and "Usavians", since we already have dibs on the abbreviation of such a name. Or, in keeping with our free-market principles, we could do what sports stadiums do, and sell the naming rights to the country. "The Halliburton States of America". Wait---weren't we already that once?

Citizens of the Congos and the Guineas and the Koreas and now the Sudans should be so lucky. We've let nutcases and terrorists in Greece force us to say "The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia". It's kowtowing to a lunatic fringe---admittedly, something the Americans have become very accustomed to mindlessly doing. Towns that used to have schools and hospitals and jails now have attendance centers and health-sciences complexes and correctional and rehabilitation facilities, when all they really need are loony-bins.

Last edited by jtur88; 07-19-2011 at 04:09 PM..
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Old 07-19-2011, 03:41 PM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
8,067 posts, read 11,868,249 times
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The countries of south America achieved their independence from their European imperial motherlands around 1820, in the wake of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, so really only about 35 years after the US, a mere pittance in world history.

In Portugal and Spain, the people often refer to US citizens as what would correspond to north Americans, but in a European country like Italy, for example, often simply the equivalent of Americans, but also a derivative noun, the would-be United Staters, as discussed further below.

In my experience in south America, when speaking of one's own native country and another country or countries of south America together, people do say the equivalent of Americans, or things like the equivalent of our America.

Nonetheless, it is true that the United States, so far in history, over the past 235 years or so, though still a relative pittance in world history, is the only country of the Americas that has the word America incorporated in its official name.

For reasons of linguistic accident in English it is hard to make an adjective out of the noun United States and native English speakers simply use the acronym US as an adjective where appropriate, or otherwise American. Moreover, as mentioned, a derivative noun to describe US citizens, such as the proposed United Staters, is quite awkard-sounding in English, as opposed to say, New Yorkers. However, in some other languages it is easy to form such a noun and people indeed do refer to citizens of the US with the equivalent of United Staters or some such in their own languages.

In short, US persons most often refer to themselves as Americans in part because the word America is incorporated into the country's official name and in part because of some linguistic idiosyncracies of the English language.
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