America

I have been thinking about this for some time. Why is it that only people in the United States say That they are Americans? If I’m not mistaken Canada is in North America and Mexico is in South America. Wouldn’t that mean that mean Mexicans have just as much right to call them self “American”? And on the same note, why arn’t Americans called united statins?


no matter where you go…there you are

I think you have to agree that “unitedstatsians” is a goofy name. Since the country is called “The United States of America”, the term Americans is appropriate. Canadians and Mexicans could also call themselves “Americans” (or, more correctly, “North Americans”), but they already have perfectly good names.

Mexico is South America? Is this a Y2K thing?

We can’t call ourselves United Statins because it just sounds weird. :wink:
Your logic would imply that the citizens of the United States could call themselves English because they all speak the Enlgish language despite many Americans having originated from outside of England.


“[He] beat his fist down upon the table and hurt his hand and became so
further enraged… that he beat his fist down upon the table even harder and
hurt his hand some more.” – Joseph Heller’s Catch-22

Mexico IS in North America, although they refer to us as Norte Americanos (North Americans)

The generally accepted term is Americans for the United States. You are confusing the name of the continent with the name of the country. In Germany, they do no refer to themselves as European, they say Germans (or mor correctly, Deutchlanders) Forgive my spelling.

Which, operaghost, is her point. It would be like, in Europe, the British calling themselves “British,” the Greek calling themselves “Greek,” and the Germans calling themselvs “European,” as if they are the only Europeans. Except this implied argument ain’t necessarily so. The difference, of course, is that “America” is part of the name of our country (“The United States of America”), so our using the term “Americans” does not necessarily imply we think are the only people who live it the Americas – it’s just the easiest short-hand for referring to citizens of the U.S. of A. If there was a United States of Europe, maybe its citizens would be known simply as “Europeans” – although, at this late date, maybe not.

The USA is the oldest modern nation in the Western Hemisphere. There was little expectation in 1776 that there would be any others. IIRC, it was Benjamin Franklin who insisted that we stop calling ourselves Englishmen and start calling ourselves Americans.

So, the basic arguement to our claim on the title is one of tradition and continental primogenitor. I’ve found in my travels to Mexico and Central America that many Latin Americans resent our monopolization of the term although they themselves are more likely to call us Americanos, rather than the politically correct Norte Americanos (that is, when they’re not calling us Yankees or Gringos!).

related question:

At the United Nations, each delegate has a little sign in front of him indicating, in English, the simple name of the country he represents, such as “France” or “Brazil”. IIRC, the sign in from of my delegate does not read “America”, nor does it say “United States of America”, but it simply says “United States”. There are many other contexts as well, where the country’s name is given as “United States”.

Why don’t the Mexicans object to this?

The full name of their country is “Estados Unidos Mexicanos” - “United Mexican States”, or “United States of Mexico”. I can understand why they suffice with “Mexico”, but why aren’t they bothered by America’s use of “United States”?

Keeves - Just like “America” the USA was the first country to use the term “United States”. Nations like the United States of Mexico and the United States of Brazil were emulating the USA when they named their countries. I don’t see how they can object to us using a term that we invented!

Another related question: Holland/Netherlands

The nation is properly called the Netherlands (there’s another question in and of itself: why do people say just “France” or “Belgium” but “THE Netherlands”?), and Holland is only one of the provinces thereof. Yet lots of people (at least here in the USA) still use “Holland” and “the Netherlands” as totally interchangeable terms.

My boss sent out a general e-mail just before the long Independence Day weekend that he was going to be out of the office on vacation in Holland, and I e-mailed back the question: “Holland, like the Netherlands, or Holland, Michigan?” He didn’t see the joke and answered the question literally.

Holland was very clever in re-naming themselves The Neatherlands when they realized that not all of their country was Holland proper. This generic name prevented Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland and the other provinces from feeling alienated.

For contrast, look at France who demned it suitable to call everything they controlled (including a big chunk of North Africa), “France”. When an Algerian school child is being taught that Casablanca is in France, it doesn’t take long for the natives to become restless!

“The” countries . . . hmm . . . The Netherlands . . . The Ukraine . . . um, help me out here . . . .

Papa Bear:
You invented the term “United States”? WOW! I didn’t know that. Now let me tell you something, we mexicans refer to our country as “La República Mexicana”, which is politically correct, since it is a Republic. Almost none of us think of México as “Estados Unidos Mexicanos”, although it is the official name.

Keeves:
If we don’t object to your use of the term is not because “you” invented it, but because our country already has a name: México, whereas yours is the only country without a “proper” name in all of the Americas (no offense intended).

And regarding to the fact that at the United Nations “…each delegate has a little (my bolding) sign in front of him”, and “…the sign in from of my delegate …simply says “United States””, could it be due to the fact that “America” would be misleading and politically incorrect, an “United States of America” would be too long for a small sign to bear it?

Actually, when the Soviet Union fell apart, the country containing Kiev began to object to being called THE Ukraine and instead would rather be Ukraine.

The stemmed from their dislike of being considered a part of Russia by the rest of the world (just like the other 13 Republics outside of Russia proper). In Slavic languages “Ukraine” roughly means “border” or “frontier”. In calling their country THE Ukraine, the speaker is unwillingly referring to the country as a part of the Russian frontier. Of course, it was the Russians in Moscow who came up with this and in fact many Russians still call them “THE” but in dropping it, Ukranians feel like they’re being (correctly) presented as being independent from Russia.

And a word of advice, never say The Ukraine to a native Ukrainian. They will remind you of the difference very quickly.

I assume the above was meant to be taken as sarcasm, E1. If I offended you or any of your countrymen, I apologize, and would appreciate it if someone let me know what the objection is.

To the best of my knowledge, the term “United States” was first used by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. If you have evidence that Americans didn’t invent the term, please enlighten me.

Speaking as one who’s studied Russian for 15 years now, J. Harvard, I can say for certainty that no Russian, be s/he from Moscow, Leningrad, Omsk, Tomsk, Volgograd, or Magadan, calls it “THE Ukraine”.

Whyzat? 'Cos Russian doesn’t have a definite article!

Having said that, you’re more on the mark with the origins of the word ‘Ukraine’, since ‘at the border’ in Russian is ‘u kraia’, so ‘Ukraina’ is probably some sort of collective noun meaning ‘borderlands’.

The Nether Lands were probably given a ‘the’ by Britain 'cos I’ve never seen the Dutch use it themselves. At least on any of their soccer gear (they, or at least some of their fans, were here in DC for the 94 World’s Cup). I always thought it was neat that the three languages of the countries that border the Netherlands have the same name for 'em in their own tongue: The Netherlands, Les Pays-Bas, and Die Niederlanden (all ‘The Lowlands’).


Cave Diem! Carpe Canem!

Along the lines of The Netherlands, what about El Salvador? It was always gets listed in alphabetical order in reference sources under “E”.

On a related notice, I used to live in Berkeley on The Alameda, which was indexed on maps under “T”.

“The” countries? Hows 'bout THE United States of America?

I think the deal there is that United States of America doesn’t so much sound like a geographical location as it does like a descriptive term for the articles States. Same with Netherlands. The Ukraine sounded odd to me until reading this thread and finding out it actually meant something.

Why do we say Americans? Because it’s easy and everyone’s been doing it for a long time and no one has a better term.


“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

America is fine, it’s fairly short. We 'merikins can pronounce it, and so can others. Some countries have five different names, depending on who’s hosting the olympics.