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« Keypad, Pen, Voice, Implant! | Main | Nanobot Surgery »

July 07, 2005


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Mike Deering

"Can we not use it with love and respect for all its peoples, all their centuries of struggle and creativity, all the hopes of a hemisphere that are wrapped up in that one word when used truthfully — America?"

I don't think that is a correct use of the word 'hemisphere'.

Tom Craver

Oh, the magical power of words - I guess if we can just get everyone to use different words, everyone will be confused enough to be happy.

But - How rude! America is the name the world knows us by, as well as what call ourselves. If anyone demanded something similar of any other nation, there would be no doubt just how rude this is.

Imagine someone demanding that Brazillians henceforth only refer to themselves Americans - after all, according to this writer, that's who they are. That person would be accused to trying to destroy the unique Brazillian identity and heritage.

But of course, America's sense of identity and heritage don't count.


I can't help wondering though how much the world will enjoy referring to the many new United Statesians.

Mr. Farlops

Don't a lot of people, at least the British and probably much of Europe as well, already call us Yankees? What's wrong with that?

I suppose some folks in the southeast, with hopeless quixotic dreams of former statehood, might not appreciate the label but if the world already calls us this, what's the problem?

Or we could take a cue from David Macaulay's Motel of the Mysteries and just coin a new word from the contraction of USA-ians: Usans ("Oo-sans").

Mike Treder, CRN

"I'm a Usan" (pronounced YOO-sun)...not bad.

Richard Jones

As a non-American (in any sense) I can't resist commenting, though I suspect it's going to be difficult to avoid offending someone.

I think to many non-citizens of the USA this is an old story; I'm always careful not to use America and American to refer to the USA in the presence of anyone from Latin America. Canadians present a different problem; calling Canadians Americans generally causes great offense and we try to learn the subtle differences in accent to avoid this (though the habit of Canadians travelling abroad of pasting maple leaves all over their persons and luggage to avoid this misunderstanding is very helpful).

As Mr Farlops suggests, most people don't have a problem in finding a short synonym for "citizens of the USA", though the connotations aren't always favourable. Here in the UK, the shortened version "yank" is very common and pretty neutral in its associations.

Mr. Farlops

"Yoo-sun" versus "Oo-san?" Hmmmmm. I can already see disputes arising over this! I suppose if such word were to come into common usage--unlikely--probably most people from the States would say "Yew-sin" or "Oo-sen."

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Well, this is ironic. My father told me once of being admonished by a citizen of some other federated country: "You should not say that you are from the United States. My country is also made of united states. You should say that you are from the United States _of America_."

Think about it... in eastern Europe there's a country named Georgia. In the U.S. there's a state named Georgia. Residents of both places can call themselves Georgian. This might cause confusion, but it shouldn't cause any hard feelings.

There's a country named America in the middle of a continent named America. Residents of both can call themselves American. It may be that, many decades ago, the U.S. residents who started calling themselves American were betraying U.S.-centric thinking, but by now it's simply our name.

When you stop to think about it, America is a name for a great country; but United States is more meaningful, since it describes the system of government that helped make us great. So when I'm talking with people outside the U.S. (including posting on this blog), I have no problem at all with referring to my country as the U.S., if that will reduce confusion. When I'm talking with people from the U.S., I'll probably keep saying America and American, because that will also reduce confusion.


Addie Smith

There has always been a curious misunderstanding about the concept of being an American, throughout World History and Popular Culture.

Most grownups and even elementary school children who have examined a planisphere, terrestrial globe or have read a little bit about Geography terms for a while, have noticed, among many other things obviously, that there is an "American Continent" which consists of many countries such as Canada, U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, etc., and the list goes on and on.

A continent, in simple words is a huge extension of land, notably separated by the oceans.

So it's not incorrect to acknowledge Brazilians, Mexicans, Canadians, etc., as [Americans]. It's not incorrect either if U.S. Citizens call themselves Americans. What is wrong, geographically speaking is to claim that only the United States are . This confusion exists not only among the U.S. citizens but also ironically among some people from other countries within the same American Continent who happen to feel offended when other people address them as Americans.

The cause for the above described attitude is a mixture of ignorance and hard feelings.
Ignorance: because most of them again, think that the name is exclusive for the U.S., which is not true.
And hard feelings: well, what to say?, It's been always a polemic matter, but the awful truth is that many people within the rest of the American Continent have their own reasons to feel uncomfortable about sharing the title "American" along with the U.S. citizens. Due to the strong influence from Popular Culture and Communication Media, the U.S. citizens have been exclusively known as "Americans" for a long time now,
so most people in the rest of the continent have relinquished that title which describes their origins too. It's so sad.

So this is about intolerance, ignorance, and a strong desire to be distinguished among others, along with the misuse of a title which means a lot for the people who have been feeling strongly identified with it for so long... and many of them are afraid that by losing it or modifying it they will lose their identity.

I believe that the identity and heritage of a Nation resides in more than just a name.

So all this controversy will continue existing as long as the close-minded attitude exists among people.

Anyway it's so disappointing to notice that many people from a Nation who agressively cherish a title that they think they exclusively own, don't really know its true meaning.

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