I’m slogging my way through a Spanish-language history of the Mexican revolution. The book reproduces, verbatim, the texts of many original documents and since the US was up to its usual shenanigans during this conflict there are frequent references to the American Government, the American President, etc. In every single one I’ve come across, the adjective used is americano. I was always taught that Mexicans referred to us gringos as norteamericanos (usually with the implication of resentment that we’d hijacked the name of an entire continent for our own self-description) but I’m halfway through the book and I haven’t seen norteamericano once yet. Is it a relatively recent invention?
“Americano” would be the logical shorthand for someone from the “Estados Unidos de America” as “mexicano” would be for someone from the “Estados Unidos de Mexico”.
My Spanish is almost non-existent, but if I’m reading a snippet about this subject from Modern Language Notes, 1896, the more common terms used at the turn of the century were norteamericano, anglo-americano, and yankee. Using just the term americano was illustrated in the text of a speech by President Diaz in 1896. It was said to be a “concession.”
You can read the relevant part of the article here --read section IV. It gives some pretty good analysis.
I vaguely remember from Spanish class that norteamericano was shorthand for someone from the US or Canada (but not Mexico, for some reason).
In practice, norteamericano pretty much exclusively refers to a citizen of the United States, and excludes Canadians (canadienses), as well as Mexicans.
Although the term estadounidense exists, it is rarely used.
I’ve met both norteamericano and estadounidense in actual usage (and yanquí, but that was Cuban propaganda), and they seem to refer to the U.S. exclusively - at least in the instances where I encountered them, it was clear from the context that Canada and Mexico were not meant to be included in the norteamericano category. Actually, if you google “país sin nombre”, you’ll find quite a lot of Spanish-speaking websites referring to the fact that the U.S. as a nation lacks a proper name, so probably Latin Amercicans feel somewhat strongly about this issue.
Yes this can be annoying. “Estadounidense” is a mouthfull and annoying to say. To be honest it depends on what kind of company you are in because for some people (mainly those in the western hemisphere) it is a serious hot-button issue. I’ve been chided a few times before for using Norteamericano and it kind of pisses me off. It’s just like the distinction between those calling the language “Spanish” or “Castillano.” People in the Americas don’t seem to bother with “Castillano” but apparently to give one particular language (of Catalan, Basque, Gallego, etc.) the name “Spainsh” is apparently bad form, thus the need to use the name “Castillano.” I never really understood why the Catalans care what “Spanish” is since they don’t proclaim to be Spanish anyway. But yeah, I can understand why people of the Americas would object to us using the word “americano” but to object to “norteamericano” as well is going a bit too far. If you’re talking about Canada you say “canadiense” if you’re talking about Mexico you say “mexicano” if you’re talking about the continent, you say “El continente norteamericano.” Someone has to give us a break.
This is a WAG, but possibly it’s not the secessionists in Catalunya or elsewhere who insist on calling it castellano but the nationalists, emphasizing that these are regions are just as much part of Spain as Castilia is.
See? The situation in Spanish can be just as muddled as the situation in English.
The usage of “Castellano” for the Spanish language in our current Constitution was specifically a concession to Catalan regionalists, actually.
In Catalan, the Spanish language is called Castellà; those who speak Spanish but not Catalan are also called Castellans. It always pissed my Dad no end when he’d be in Catalonia and people would ask him what basically amounted to “are you Catalan or Castillian,” as if there was no other possible option (and Dad was very much Navarrese, i.e., “none of the above”).
Galego and Basque don’t refer to Spanish as “Castilian,” but as “Spanish.” Well, actually in Basque most people will say “erdera,” which literally means “(the language of) the other’s” and is understood to mean French on the French side and Spanish on the Spanish side of the border.
In Spanish when I was growing up, Castellano (m) was the dialect spoken in Castilla la Vieja; the language was either Español or Lengua Castellana.
I think Spanish speakers tend to be a lot more tolerant of long words. For example, the cute pet names for our kids are often diminutives longer than the original name, as opposed to shortening the name (Daniel -> Danielito). The Spaniards themselves, though, tend to cut a lot of words (boligrafo -> boli, pelicula -> peli), so YMMV