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#30802 - 06/14/01 09:38 AM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
Bryan Hayward Offline

Registered: 04/03/01
Posts: 69
Loc: IL
Max wrote:

you will not object to my pointing out that most U.S. citizens are indeed Americans, as are Argentinians, Brazilians, and even your ruthlessly polite neighbours to the North.

Of course. My main objection to US citizens calling themselves "Americans" is that they tend to feel they somehow own the designation. The term American is so broad, as you point out, as to be meaningless. It means anyone in N, S, and Central America.

I am also not a fan of words that are so broad that they are very difficult to understand without extensive context - unless that context is already well understood. On an international forum such as this, it is unclear at best and arrogant at worst for a US citizen to insist on calling themselves Americans. On a streetcorner in Iowa, it is much more specific - they mean "born in USA."


P.S. It is often fun to accuse the USA of being an "empire." I can't help but think this is tongue-in-cheek by critics. If the US had wanted an empire, we'd still own the Philippines and Cuba. We'd be "administering" places we occupied during WWII. Not to mention various and sundry banana republics. However, we looked at the British colonial model and decided we didn't want it. The US has been historically isolationist. Not even the harshest critics can deny that. So how do you square "isolationist" with "empire?" Answer, you can't.


You are only wretched and unworthy if you choose to be.

#30803 - 06/14/01 10:21 AM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
We'd be "administering" places we occupied during WWII

Sure, amongst intelligent members of the world community it is a tongue-in-cheek joke at Americans we know to have broad shoulders and much to be proud of.

But the legacy of history can not be lightly airbrushed away. A great deal of America's founding wealth (like Britain's) was dependent upon the evils of the slave trade. The USA quite rightly avoided the model of social hegemony of the traditional 19th century empires - but it certainly chose to benefit from maintaining an economic choke lead around the throat of many territories in its power through the course of the first and second world wars.

The current context of this same argument is over the degree of indebtedness of so-called Third World countries. We are currently achieving a more disastrous effect on the states of Africa by financially bleeding them dry than by the worst byproducts of the imperial era.

But this is not much to do with words... so raise your glasses, all, to a fine and much abused word: justice!


#30804 - 06/14/01 10:46 AM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
a tongue-in-cheek joke at Americans

Besides, we administer our empire, not through the heavy hand of the Raj, but through the ham hand of the CIA.

#30805 - 06/14/01 12:24 PM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Yes, that's a lot less scary nowadays! I guess my point is a slow way of explaining the popular tag of 'Coca-colonialism'.

#30806 - 06/14/01 01:03 PM Re: Americans
Flatlander Offline

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 428
Loc: Cape Cod, MA, US
I probably should just keep my mouth shut, but I've always disagreed with people who have a problem with citizens of the United States of America calling themselves Americans. Often they argue that Canadians, Brazilians, and Nicaraguans are also Americans. I think that Canadians and Nicaraguans (and Americans) are North Americans, and Brazilians and Ecuadorians are South Americans. There is no continent named America. Just as I wouldn't call residents of either North and South Dakota, "Dakotans" -- I would call them "North Dakotans" or "South Dakotans." (Of course, I may be shouted down by any "Dakotans" or "Carolinians" out there...) There is no other single word to define citizens of the United States of America (quiet, you in the back), so what is wrong with using the "America" part of the country's name and calling us "Americans"?

I always feel so stupidly jingoistic when I have to explain this to people, but it's a linguistic argument for me, not a patriotic one. If the word "American" is really so vague as to be a problem for everyone else out there, I suppose I will have to relent, but the few times I have been abroad, when I have told people that I am an American I can't remember being met with a perplexed stare. Also, if it really offends other North Americans and South Americans, I guess I will purge it from my lexicon as well, but I just don't like the sound of "I'm a US citizen" -- too official.

Anyway, I have to go read a report that some citizens of the UK who were visiting the US left in our office when they were here.

#30807 - 06/14/01 09:20 PM
Max Quordlepleen Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/12/00
Posts: 3409

#30808 - 06/14/01 10:33 PM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
words that are so broad that they are difficult to understand without extensive context

That's why I have such a problem witht the label Hispanic...I think it's deplorable to lump such ethnically diverse peoples as Mexicans, Cubans, Continental Spaniards, Agrentinians, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, etc., etc., all under one heading...it just doesn't make sense to me.

However, in the same breath I am going to say that I think, despite all the literal and/or spiteful rhetoric, that the name American/Americans has come to be accepted as and equated with being a U.S. Citizen...it represents an ideal more than a region (an ideal we're still striving to acchieve). Besides, if we want to get really technical we can revert to the hackneyed, but true, argument that the only real Americans were the Iroquois, Delaware, Seminoles, Lakota, etc...and don't call them "Native" or "Indian", stick to the tribal names of their nations as they would prefer, and deserve, to have it.

I am an American. Of Slovak/Russo/Hungarian/German descent...with a drop of French/Italian/and Irish sprinkled in...but I am an American, second and third generation. What else would you have me call myself...a Mutt?

And, besides (and I know I'm going to catch it for this, I've got my flak-jacket on folks!) during the days of the British Empire did Englishmen living in India, South Africa, Australia, etc. call themselves Indians, South Africans, Australians.....or Englishmen? I rest my case (and ducking very low!).

#30809 - 06/14/01 10:45 PM Re: faith without works
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
My faith is solid: that there are objective facts

I think, perhaps we need to differentiate between a concrete, scientific faith that says if I'm holding a stone in my hand and let go, I have complete faith it will fall to the ground due to gravity; and an abstract faith that believes if you let go of the stone it will defy the laws of gravity and levitiate or float. The first is guaranteed; the second could happen. I believe that "faith can move mountains,"...but you better have a lot of dynamite and good pick-axes handy, and be ready and willing to use them.

#30810 - 06/15/01 06:36 AM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
rodward Offline

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 609
Loc: Portsmouth, United Kingdom
during the british Empire did Englishmen living in India, etc. call themselves Indians, South Africans, Australians.....or Englishmen

It may be illogical and not strictly accurate, but I have no real problem with Americans=US'ns in common parlance. In that sense, Americans are also North Americans (but not necessarily vice versa), but not South Americans. Of course if one was discussing North and South and whole American continents, one would probably avoid the term.

But Whitman, I am not sure how your question above relates to the argument about what US citizens are called. Most (male) people living for a while in a country still refer to themselves as "an X-man living in Y-land". And in those times, the longer stay colonists still thought of themselves as "X-men". Or were you alluding to the confusion between Britain and England? I'm confused myself as to what you meant so can't start throwing rocks (yet )


#30811 - 06/15/01 09:57 AM Re: Speech/Pronunciation
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
i.e. Brits livng abroad in the days of the Birtish Empire -- in reply to rodward

Yes, rod, I can see the confusion in my analogy...it was getting late and my logic was wearing thin. I guess I meant that, if we were sticking to strictly continental/regional strictures in describing citizenship, then by rights, during the days of Empire an Englishman (or maybe Brit is more accurate here; I guess English ladies take exception to that term these days, huh?) who was living elsewhere would have to describe themselves as an Indian, Australian, South African, etc. (or, at least, an Indian-Englishman...i.e. Rudyard Kipling)...And, of course, an Englishman would never consider doing that owning to national pride, etc. But these territories were considered part of a "Greater England" then, so perhaps the point is moot. On the other hand, because of the travel requirements in that era, most lived out the larger portion of their lives in the colony on another continent...so they weren't truly an "Englishman" either. Did I just create more confusion or more clarity? I'm not really sure?

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