Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do you find it annoying that people who live in the United States of America call themselves American for short?

Asked by JLeslie (47785 points ) September 14th, 2009

I’ve always wondered if Canadians and Latin Americans think it is conceited that people who live in the USA call themsleves American, when other countries make up the continent of America. The way I see it Venezuelans, Canadians, and Mexicans are American also.

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153 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

So what should we be calling people from the US?

marinelife's avatar

Do you mean conceited?

By your logic, then so would Brazilians and Argentinians be Americans. Canadians, Mexicans, etc. are also North Americans, but do not have America in their country name.

Besides, what’s the alternative? Users?

JLeslie's avatar

@Marina Yes, thank you, caught the spelling mistake in time.

Many in Europe say we are from the “States” which I think is more accurate. If someone says they are European, we might ask what country they are from. So, yes, I think logically all countries on the continent of America could reasonably say they are American, just like European countries do.

eponymoushipster's avatar

I’ve wondered why people ask these questions when even people in other languages call residents of the United States “Americans” in their own language.

It’s North and South America, yes.
But it’s the United States of America, too. America is in the name. Kind of like the “actual” name of Mexico is The United Mexican States, but they go by Mexico for short.

There’re bigger issues in the world than this.

MacBean's avatar

No more annoying than people from France or Germany or England calling themselves European…

oratio's avatar

eponymoushipster is right. In Europe we say Americans about US citizens and Canadians, Mexicans and so on for others… Maybe Canadians find it annoying.

tinyfaery's avatar

If I’m out of the country I make sure to say I am from California, because I don’t like to be associated with most of America. When I’m in the U.S. what else would I be?

eponymoushipster's avatar

@tinyfaery psstt…most people know in which country California is located.

Darwin's avatar

I just tell people I’m a Texan. That seems to solve the problem.

Actually, Simon Bolivar wanted to form a United States of America that would extend from Canada to Patagonia, and even came north to talk to George Washington about it. However, neither George nor most of the leaders in South and Central America or Canada were particularly interested. They had their hands full with what they were doing at the time.

Of course, down here in Texas we refer to folks from the rest of the United States of America as yankees, gringos or carpetbaggers. Or snowbirds (but that includes Canadians).

JLeslie's avatar

@eponymoushipster I don’t see how Mexico is analogous. There is not a continent named Mexico. I think when most American’s use it, we think we are the ONLY Americans. As @oratio pointed out Europeans use American’s for more than just people from the USA. I have a feeling a bunch of Americans would be surprised by that.

oratio's avatar

@tinyfaery Actually, that’s good. It’s hard to miss out that a person is from the US. When I ask an American where he’s from, I don’t want to know if he is from the US, but from which state.

kevbo's avatar

God Bless the States. Land that I love…

eponymoushipster's avatar

@JLeslie well, howsabout you start a petition and we’ll see how it goes, k?

J0E's avatar

Name another country which has the word ‘America’ in it’s name, there isn’t one. We are called American because of our country, not continent, just like Canadians and Mexicans.

SundayKittens's avatar

Our country is the United States of America…Brazil is Brazil…etc. And I also usually start with my state. But it’s interesting to hear that argument, JLeslie

tinyfaery's avatar

I am completely aware that American is a continent. My word choice does not mean I am dismissing the other countries.

JLeslie's avatar

@eponymoushipster I am not fighting to change it. I am wondering what other people think.

JLeslie's avatar

@J0E So are you saying a Brazilian or a Mexican should not say they are American?

J0E's avatar

@JLeslie No, because we are named after our country not the continent.

JLeslie's avatar

@J0E So the French and the German’s should not call themselves European?

Darwin's avatar

I would suspect that a Brazilian or a Mexican would refuse to say they are American. They would rather say they are Brazilian or Mexican, especially at soccer (football) games.

SundayKittens's avatar

And I’ve never heard my MExican or Colombian friends call themselves American.

J0E's avatar

@JLeslie We can say we are North American if we want, but no one really does. We are American because ‘America’ is in our countries name, continent has nothing to do with it.

Darwin's avatar

My father is Chilean, and the only reason that he says he is an American is that he is a citizen of the United States of America.

unit's avatar

If you called me European I would be offended. I am from England

Jude's avatar

I always say that I’m Canadian. When I went overseas, I had a backpack with a little Canadian flag embroidered on it. I didn’t have to say anything. Europeans sure do love Canadians.

Although, if someone said that I was N. American, it wouldn’t bother me atall.

JLeslie's avatar

@unit But as @oratio said Europeans do call Mexican’s and Canadians Americans. Maybe you don’t, I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

J0E's avatar

@JLeslie Well that’s their mistake, not ours.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@jmah, some of us United Statesians love Canadians, too. A couple of my best friends are Canooks. I’m all for moving to Canada some day, and telling the rest of the United Statesians to bite my ass. =)

unit's avatar

@jmah We love Canadians as you are part of the Commonwealth

unit's avatar

@JLeslie No we dont

JLeslie's avatar

@J0E seems like it is our mistake, most Europeans are saying they don’t want to be lumped togther as Europeans, they identify with their country.

oratio's avatar

I really have to start cleaning up my syntax…

Darwin's avatar

I wouldn’t mind moving to Canada in the summer, but it’s too bloody cold the rest of the time. I don’t care how pretty the tulips are in Ottawa. I just about froze to death.

J0E's avatar

@JLeslie That’s exactly what I’m trying to say, we are being called by our country not continent. Just as they are called French, German, Italian, Mexican, Canadian, Irish, and on and on and on. European is just something us people from across the world use, it means nothing to people living there.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin but the fishing and hunting in MB, SK, and ON are supposed to be some of the world’s best. You just need a warm sweetie to cuddle up to during the cold months.

MrItty's avatar

There is no continent named America. There are two continents, named North America and South America. If you’re claiming that US residents shouldn’t shorten “United States of American” to “American”, how can you be asserting that Mexicans and Canadians should be abbreviating “North American” to “American”?

eponymoushipster's avatar

We call Germans and the French, etc. both those terms and European. No one says “I’m North American.” (unless you count james murphy)

Likewise, we say Chinese, Laotian, etc, but also Asian.

It’s simply not a term that’s used.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty The US teaches 7 continents, most of the world uses 6. America is one continent for many people in the world.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie That may be the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard. Europe and Asia are two continents, but the entire western hemisphere is one? Right.

unit's avatar

@JLeslie no we dont

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – I only fish in tropical waters when I am tired of canned corned beef, and I never hunt, except up and down the aisles of the grocery store. I like my meat in square packages. They fit into the refrigerator so much better.

JLeslie's avatar

@unit Don’t what?

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie In fact, that’s so far beyond idiotic, that I simply don’t believe your word on it. Citation, please?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I only use Asian if I don’t know whether someone is Chinese, Japanese, Korean or whatever. the last thing I want to do is call a Chinese person Japanese or vice versa. We could just settle this once and for all, and call ourselves Earthlings, but somehow, I don’t see that solving much, as there is too much national pride among us Earthlings.

@Darwin, hunters end up making their meat come in square packages, it just takes a bit more work. =)

kevbo's avatar

A redneck at a diner picked up the newspaper sitting next to him. The headline blared, “12 Brazilian Soldiers Killed.”
He shook his head at the terrible news, then turned to
the stranger sitting next to him and said…

“Well ain’t that a tragedy. Say, how many’s in a Brazilian?”

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continents#Number_of_continents Most of my Latin America friends learn 6 continents.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@kevbo that was originally a blonde joke

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s agreed upon internationally that Americans are from the USA.
That’s something very small to be “annoyed” about.

I’m pretty sure some Canadians would be annoyed if they were called Americans.

unit's avatar

@JLeslie consider America as a continent, you’re avin a laugh

kevbo's avatar

yeah. I like the redneck voice better.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – I am a lazy forager.

mattbrowne's avatar

Ambiguity is part of language. I know that some Latin Americans are somewhat annoyed. But most are not.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I would assume the French think USA is an acronym for Unusually Stupid Assholes.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@JLeslie So if you have a friend who’s Latin and Russian, he think there’re only 5 continents? brilliant.

They say some learn 4 continents. If we really work on em, we might get em down to 3¾. what do yo think?

“I’m Panoceaniaursian. How about you?”
“I’m Latincanamericanish.”
“Cool.”

Jude's avatar

Canada is indeed a beauty. Yes, wear your warm woolies during the winter months. :).

eponymoushipster's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra you’re assuming the french think

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie “Most of latin America” != “Most of the rest of the world”.

From that same Wikipedia article:
“The seven-continent model is usually taught in China and most English-speaking countries. The six-continent combined-Eurasia model is preferred by the geographic community, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan. The six-continent combined-America model is taught in Latin America, and some parts of Europe including Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. This model may be taught to include only the five inhabited continents (excluding Antarctica)[20][21] — as depicted in the Olympic logo.[22]””

Darwin's avatar

Reunite Pangaea!

eponymoushipster's avatar

@MrItty for her intents and purposes it is.~

JLeslie's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic So far no one seems annoyed, except for some people with my gall to ask the question.

It’s a QUESTION people. So far no Canadians or Latin Americans have weighed in.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@JLeslie @jmah weighed in. she’s Canadian.

MrItty's avatar

@eponymoushipster Yes, it’s very easy to prove your point if you simply change the definitions of words…

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin the logistics of such a thing would be impossible, and surely, some coastal folks would be all pissy to find they no longer live at the water’s edge.

Some people live at the water’s edge because that means you only have assholes on three sides of you. And if the assholes come the other way, you can hear em splash!

eponymoushipster's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra that’s why people invented moats: asshole detection.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – But then it would be easy to count continents.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@eponymoushipster and here I thougth it was convenient fishing. Toss the line out the window, and voila! dinner.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I said most learn 6, I was not saying which 6, it seems from the quote you pulled, more learn 6 than 7.

dalepetrie's avatar

What about South Africans, how many call themselves African? But Kenyans are more likely to call themselves Kenyan than African. Or Nigerian, or Ethiopian. I agree with the notion, when residents of the United States call themselves American, it’s because we are the United States of AMERICA. We wouldn’t call ourselves United Statesians, that just sounds retarded. And I have yet to hear an American refer to himself as a North American. I think few consider their continent at all to be honest, and I don’t think it’s arrogant at all. I don’t think when people say, “I’m an American” they are thinking, I’m part of the one of the 7 continents that comprises North America, they’re thinking I’m part of one of the 50 states that comprise the United States of America. Nothing to feel bad about. though I don’t begrudge you asking the question, just think you’re looking at it in a way that no one else does.

kevbo's avatar

… besides, I’d probably piss someone off with the blond version. It’s okay to piss off a redneck.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@JLeslie more learn 6? there’s a billion plus people in china.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin, I know a couple of people that STILL need to take one shoe off to count as far as one.

JLeslie's avatar

@jmah Sorry to have overlooked you thanks @eponymoushipster . Love Canada.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@dalepetrie who you calling retarded?

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie You asserted that “Most learn 6” in response to my statement that North America & South America are separate. What does those who learn Eurasia as a single continent have to do with anything?

Darwin's avatar

@dalepetrie – While it is true that I call myself an American when living in the United States, I did call myself a Norteamericano when I lived in Venezuela. However, my Venezuelan friends all refer to themselves as Venezuelans or Venezolanos.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@kevbo you’re lucky most rednecks don’t Fluther, rednecks like to shoot the things they don’t understand. If it wasn’t for my higher than room temp IQ, my distaste for swill beer and NASCAR (and sports in general), and my inability to grow a decent mullet, many people would probably consider me a redneck.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty Your statement about the continents, I think you called me “beyond idiotic,” made it seem like you had no idea that there was an alternative to 7.

dalepetrie's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – just you Unitedstatesians.

MrItty's avatar

No, I called the idea that North & South Americas are one continent “beyond idiotic”. I did not call you anything.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@dalepetrie your typical Minnesotian pretentiousness rears its ugly head. ~

bennihan's avatar

This is a terrible questions.

eponymoushipster's avatar

CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?!?!

mattbrowne's avatar

We should have 59 continents, one for each tectonic plate. That’ll make things easier…

African Plate
Altiplano Plate
Amurian Plate
Anatolian Plate
Antarctic Plate
Apulian Plate
Arabian Plate
Australian Plate
Balmoral Reef Plate
Banda Sea Plate
Bird’s Head Plate
Burma Plate
Caribbean Plate
Caroline Plate
Cocos Plate
Conway Reef Plate
Easter Plate
Eurasian Plate
Futuna Plate
Galapagos Plate
Halmahera Plate
Hellenic Plate
Indian Plate
Iranian Plate
Jan Mayen Plate
Juan Fernandez Plate
Juan de Fuca Plate
Kermadec Plate
Kula Plate
Manus Plate
Maoke Plate
Mariana Plate
Molucca Sea Plate
Nazca Plate
New Hebrides Plate
Niuafo’ou Plate
North American Plate
North Andes Plate
North Bismarck Plate
Okhotsk Plate
Okinawa Plate
Pacific Plate
Panama Plate
Philippine Microplate
Philippine Sea Plate
Rivera Plate
Sangihe Plate
Scotia Plate
Shetland Plate
Solomon Sea Plate
Somali Plate
South American Plate
South Bismarck Plate
South Sandwich Plate
Sunda Plate
Timor Plate
Tonga Plate
Woodlark Plate
Yangtze Plate

dalepetrie's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – that’s just because we’re so much better than everyone else…we gave the world Bob Dylan after all. Bow before our greatness.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@dalepetrie LOL but his son is a waaaaay better singer.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty My mistake, but there are people who see America as one continent. I don’t think they are idiots, seems very ethnocentric to me.

dalepetrie's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – well, maybe so, but he’s no Biz Markee.

oratio's avatar

It’s curious that Americans are equated with US citizens, but it doesn’t really matter much does it?

sandystrachan's avatar

I hate the word United , United States of America , United Kingdom of Great Britain <———- Non of these places are United in anything .

robmandu's avatar

Whew. Glad we got that continental debate ironed out.

Now. Anybody want to get their knickers in a twist about the 4 continent model making reference to Afro-Eurasia and the obvious disenfranchisement of the various populations therein by a the few, powerful, and wealthy bankers who secretly run the world behind a shadow puppet government?

Sarcasm's avatar

@sandystrachan They’re united by law.

Anyhow.
To call “The United State of America” just “America” is just as ridiculous to call “The People’s Republic of China” just “China”, or “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” just “North Korea”. I haven’t heard anyone complaining when we don’t say the ”Republic of Iraq” or the ”Islamic Republic of Iran”.
You’ve also got the Republic of Finland, Kingdom of Sweden, Federal Republic of Germany, French Republic, United Mexican States, Federal Republic of Brazil, Arab Republic of Egypt, so on and so forth.

Those all shorten their name to a single word. Why’s it absurd that we do?
@JLeslie I think when most American’s use it, we think we are the ONLY Americans. I believe you’ve said you’re in the bible belt, so I can understand that people think that out there, but out where I live we’re all quite aware that USA is not the only thing in America.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Sarcasm regarding your last point, i think you’re right. of course, on the coasts we can read and have logical reasoning ability.

JLeslie's avatar

@Sarcasm I live in the bible belt, but I am not from here. I am the one annoyed with these people all of the time. When I was in Scotland, I was asked, “where in the states are you from?” Meanhile, I asked my Mexican husband what he called Americans before he came her and he said, “Gringos.” So there you go. Lol.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with using or shortening to America, I did not have an opinion. I know many countries do it. I was just asking a QUESTION. Gosh, if you are annoyed by the question or think it is stupid why do you even comment on it?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@JLeslie You asked a question, and people are answering. No need to get defensive.

rebbel's avatar

I am a European from the Netherlands, also called Holland, and i am Dutch.
My girlfriend is a European too, from Greece and i would like her to have a Brazilian.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie People are getting defensive because of the implied insults in your questions. Yes, you did not specifically say ”I believe it’s annoying”, or ”I think it’s conceited”, but the fact that you even phrase the question in such a way implies that you could understand that viewpoint if anyone did feel that way.

As for your accusation of “ethnocentric”, I challenge you to look at a map of the globe, look at the itty bitty tiny connection between North America and South America, look at the complete and utter lack of any separation between Europe & Asia, and assert to me that you don’t think it’s idiotic to consider Eurasia two continents but NA & SA one.

Sarcasm's avatar

I’ve always been baffled by where they decided to separate Europe and Asia.

DominicX's avatar

No. We’re the only country that has the word “America” in the name. Perfectly fine with me. It comes from the name of our country, not the name of our continent.

Note: did not read the other responses.

Personally, I think the “United States of America” is kind of a crappy name for our country. Why couldn’t we have a one word name like “Canada”? I think North America and South America should’ve been North Columbia and South Columbia (after Columbus) and then we could’ve called our country “America” (after Amerigo Vespucci) or even “Virginia”, since our country was originally called “Virginia” when it was beginning as a colony. The state of Virginia could’ve come up with something else… :P

MrItty's avatar

@DominicX You really didn’t miss out on anything. :-P

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I am GD American for Christ’s sake! I am not asking to offend American’s. But, it seems you were offended and so you were defensive. I am asking to be considerate of South American’s and other North American’s. And, I am not proposing we change terms that are commonly used, I was just curious. Maybe you can tell me how I should have worded it? I am willing to accept there might have been a better way to word it, my intent was not to offend anyone. But, if you are offended by the idea of the question, well, nothing I can do about that. And, since you point out there is a complete lack of separation between Europe and Asia it seems odd that we (Americans) do seperate Europe and Asia? Why do we do it? And, the America’s ARE attached, well we dug a canal, but we can consider them attached. All of it is fine with me, however it is separated. I kind of find the continents irrelavant myself, I don’t care if we use the 5, 6, or 7, and I certainly don’t think MY American way is the only right way. Sometimes we break out Central America, not as a continent, but I think people rarely associate Belize and Nicaragua in their minds with North America, even though they are part of the North American continent.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie The way to ask a question without asserting your own opinion is to not mention the opinion in the first place.

“How do you feel about US residents calling themselves Americans, seeing as Canada and Brazil are also part of the American continents?” would have been fine. Instead, your phrasing made it sound like you were looking for people who agreed that it’s “annoying” and “conceited”. There was no reason to put those words in the question if you were honestly looking for opinions from all sides.

It’s what Lawyers would have called a Leading Question. When there are two possible options, you don’t mention just one option in the question if you’re actually looking for people to give their honest opinion. You ask an open-ended question, not a yes-no question.

And what does being a “GD” American have to do with anything? I’m American too. It doesn’t mean I can’t find fault with the US. The fact that we teach Europe and Asia are two continents? Ridiculous. The fact that we still use the “English” system of measurement over the Metric? Stupid to the point of shamefulness.

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie

I think the problem is that the name “American” doesn’t come from the continent, it comes from the name of the country. If we want to be “considerate” of the rest of the Americas, we should change the name of our country. If there were a country called the “United States of Europe”, people in that country would probably refers to themselves as European. It’s just a bad way to name a country, but it is what it is. People who refer to the USA as “America” are simply shortening the name with the most prominent part of our name. “United” is a term to describe the state of the “States” within our country. Plenty of countries have united states, including Mexico and Australia. That doesn’t distinguish us at all. “America” is the only part of the name that stands out, so we refer to ourselves as that. Of course, it happens to coincide with the name of the continent because the country was named after the continent, which, like I said, was a dumb idea, but there’s no changing it so we have to go with what we have.

Personally, I use the 4 continent system: Australia, Eurafrasia, America, and Antarctica. Africa, Asia, South America, North America, and Europe are simply regions within continents. To me.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I was looking to see if it did annoy anyone. Below my question, in the part where I can further explain, I was targeting Canadians and Latin American’s for their answer. I didn’t think I would find an American from the USA who would be annoyed. But, I like your wording for further questions when I want to be sure not to lead anyone.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie I understand where you’re coming from. In that case, allow me to suggest that if you are asking a question that by necessity contains a certain opinion, you explicitly state that you do not personally hold this opinion, but are just looking to see how many do. That, I think, would get you more discussion about the topic, and less side-tangents as were experienced in this one.

RareDenver's avatar

@DominicX The way the EU is going I think we will have a United States of Europe eventually. I suppose the reason the United States of America is so called is because it was formed by independent states uniting together under a common leadership, just as the United Kingdom is several Kingdoms that united together under a common leadership. Or to give it it’s full name The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Perhaps a more accurate name for the USA should have been “The United States of the Middle Bit of North America” :-)

SpatzieLover's avatar

Technically speaking everyone on the planet is an African. Should we call ourselves:
African Americans
or
United Africans…or???

MrItty's avatar

@SpatzieLover You’re talking about heritage. I was under the impression the question is about current residencies.

oratio's avatar

Maybe we should just call it Bob

The land of Bob. No one would be offended by that.

Well… except for Steve.

You see, he doesn’t like Bob very much.

Darwin's avatar

@RareDenver – So does that make us Middle Bitians?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@MrItty I understand the asker’s point, but:

Most people from Spain are Spanish, most people in Mexico are Mexicans…

However,

If someone asks me where I live, I’d say the United States. But, if someone asks me where I’m from I’m more liable to say I’m of European decent (and tell them the mix of my make up).

I know MANY people that are not “from” the US, but currently reside here.

MrItty's avatar

“Where are you from?” could mean either “Where did you – personally, individually – grow up?” or “Where do you – personally, individually – currently live now?”

I’ve never heard anyone ask “Where are you from?” to mean “Where did your ancestors reside before the family moved to where you are now?”. The short form of that question is “Where is your family from?”.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Have we worked out what to call Americans yet? No?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Lightlyseared LURVE!

We go to our local museum frequently. MOST people haven’t worked out calling “Indians” Native Americans yet, as we hear school-aged kids still calling NA’s, “Indians”. Last week we overheard 2 brothers (ages 8–10) asking their parents if “Indians” were real-life people or if they were just myths…Yes, for real.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

united statesians would sound awkward.

tinyfaery's avatar

How about USAer?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

A lot of the Latin Americans I know feel sorry for people from the US because we don’t have a specific way to refer to ourselves. Some I’ve talked to think it conveys a collective conceitedness, but were quick to point out that they didn’t think I was conceited. I do think it’s hilariously ironic that they have a specific way to refer to us “Estadounidense” but we don’t have a specific way to refer to ourselves.

It’s also ironic to me that I frequently hear people from the southern cone call us “North Americans” or “norteamericanos” and will actually use it to distinguish between US people and Mexicans or Canadians, who are, in reality, also North Americans, thus the irony.

Sarcasm's avatar

The term Latin America or Latino/Latina is irritating. They don’t speak Latin!

JLeslie's avatar

@sarcasm I think, but correct me if I am wrong, all of Latin America speaks Latin based or romance languages except Belize.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Sarcasm: Now the history of that term is a REALLY interesting subject, actually (Ok, well, to me anyway)! Let me see if I can dig up an old thread that you might find engaging.

EDIT: Okay, here it is. http://www.fluther.com/disc/25799/why-is-central-america-and-south-america-called-latin-america/#quip272804. So, that was the first time I had heard of that concept, from @fireside, but then later, I actually studied the phenomenon in one of my classes, and according to my professor, it is very true! He also told us that after the French coined the term, people who lived in what we now call Latin America gravitated toward it because they also wanted to be connected to the French and the concept of Latin/Romans/Italy, because it seemed more cosmopolitan than being only associated with Spain. ie The idea of “Latin” had more social prestige to them than Spanish did.

JLeslie's avatar

@La_chica_gomela I’m interested in the history if you do dig it up. I am also interested to know if Latin Americans prefer that term to Hispanic. I hate the term Hispanic.

Hobosnake's avatar

So what am I to call myself? USAn? (pronounced like it’s spelled?)

Hm. Maybe I’ll start saying that.

Speaking of which, what do people from other such countries call themselves?

Is the pope Vaticanese?

robmandu's avatar

If speaking Latin is the criteria, then @gailcalled is smack dab in the middle of it… somewhere in the nor’east U.S. as it turns out.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@JLeslie: Most of the people I know who are from Latin America call themselves by whatever country they’re from. As far as a collectivity, I think it depends on the individual, I’m not sure if there’s a general preference. But I can say that it annoys me (and many others I think) when “Hispanic” is used as a race. It means “person who speaks Spanish”, not some stereotypical phenotype, there are Hispanics who are black, white, and every color in between, not some certain shade of tan people think all Mexicans are. Whew, that turned into quite a rant!

JLeslie's avatar

@La_chica_gomela My husband is Mexican and we have a Sephardic last name, which leads to the fact that many throughout Latin America immigrated from other countries, the same as all of the “America’s.” Picking up with what you said about people coming in every different color and being grouped together as Hispanic, this actually was big problem, way back in the day it would say white, black, and other. Hispanics in their home country who consider themselves white, often answered white, then they added Hispanic and finally white hispanic and black hispanic to try not to miscategorize anyone God forbid.

Take my father-in-law, this is the tricky part, he was born in Mexico. If his parents had come directly to USA he would be white. But, since they went to Mexico, their son is now Hispanic by USA standards. OR, do we consider him Middle Eastern or Asian since they are from Israel and before that possibly Lebonon and Syria. It’s ridiculous.

@SpatzieLover @MrItty If some asks where I am from, I usually have to clarify. Do you mean where did I grow up, or where I was born or what? When I say I am American born in DC, then they might as, “what are you?” Or, “where is your family from?” So I say Latvia and Russia. Then, they usually look at me funny, and don’t have much to say, unless they themselves are Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, or something else nearby. Mostly people want to know if I am Jewish, but they won’t say it, it’s like a game to me. Except other Jews, they just come out and ask.

MrItty's avatar

@La_chica_gomela We do have a specific way to refer to ourselves. It’s “American”. The fact that other folks might not find that to be correct or to make sense doesn’t change the fact that it’s absolutely how we refer to ourselves. “American” means “From the United States of America”. It is unambiguous. It does not, in any case, refer to people from Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, or anywhere else.

“American” (from the country) is a subset of “North American” (from the continent), which is a subset of “Western” (from the hemisphere).

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@MrItty: In my opinion, the term “American” is ambiguous, not specific. I would agree with you that we have a term that we use to refer to ourselves, and we (typically) understand it to mean a certain thing, but (to me) that doesn’t make it specific.

Maybe to you it means “from the United States of America”, but when you’re talking to someone who is from Latin America, they might take it a different way.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I was with you on the idea that we do have a specific way to refer to ourselves, BUT you lose me when you say that American does not mean from Mexico or Argentina because it does. Both are true. I think it was someone from Europe above who pointed out sometimes they refer to us all over here in the America’s as American.

JLeslie's avatar

I love the song “America” by Jose Luis Perales, and I am pretty sure he is not talking about USA. But maybe my Spanish is not good enough.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@JLeslie: Wow, great song! I had never heard it before! You’re right—I googled the lyrics and he sings (translated) “America, you smell like…” things that are specific to different regions in South and Central America, such as gauchos from Argentina and the Cono Sur, Carnival from Brazil, and guava (guayaba) from Central America.

JLeslie's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Glad you liked it. Me encanta el ritmo y su voz. :).

eponymoushipster's avatar

If Latin Americans speak a Latin based language, shouldn’t English speaking residents of the USA be called German Americans?

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie and @La_chica_gomela It is unambiguous TO ME. I know exactly who I am talking about when I say “An American”. Therefore, I do have a way to refer to US residents, and there is no need for Latin Americans (or anyone else) to have sympathy for me in this regard.

And no, it doesn’t mean from Mexico. Mexico is not part of the country typically known as “America”. It is part of the continent known as North America, which I have never seen referred to as simply “America”, until this DB pointed out that a small number of people in the world think of the entire Western Hemisphere as a single continent. That small number of people’s viewpoint is not relevant to me when I am talking in every day conversation. If someone says to me “America” or “American”, they are talking about the US and its residents. If they mean something else, it will lead to a misunderstanding in the conversation.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@MrItty: I find that point of view quite narrow minded.

MrItty's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Why? When you’re having a conversation with someone, and they talk about chips, do you immediately wonder if they’re talking about French Fries or Potato Chips? Of course not. You’re in the US. Here, “chips” means Potato Chips. If you were in Great Britain, or you were talking to someone from Great Britain, you’d think to wonder which that person was talking about.

In the US, “American” means “from the United States”. What it means to other people is not relevant, unless those other people are people you’re talking to, and are in or from areas of the world in which “American” means something else.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

It’s settled, we are United Statesians. End of discussion! ~

tinyfaery's avatar

Yeah. You’re all irrelevant.~

Darwin's avatar

I still prefer Middle Bitian.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty If I am talking to someone from England here in the US and they say chips, or I say chips, I would clarify to be sure, because I know that is french fries to them. Same with biscuits and other items. I also check if they want their bacon less cooked when they stay at my home. I don’t say to my Scottish brother-in-law, “don;t screw up and call a chip a crisp.” When I am in NY and people ask me where I am from, I say Washington, and it is understood I mean DC. When I am in MI I have to clarify, because for whatever reason their mind goes to Washington state before DC. In MI I say pop in NY I say soda. Who cares? I don’t think I am more right, why do you? Europeans probably understand that you can use American to mean USA, and that large land mass across the pond that includes Canada, Mexico, etc. If clarification is needed because it was not obvious within the context of the conversation the people would clarify. Why does it bother you so much? You make it seem like it is incorrect, almost that you are offended. So, I guess it is annoying to you that people use America to mean different things. That I find ironic.

MrItty's avatar

Jeezus Crimany, @JLeslie, do you even know what you’re arguing any more?

My statement that “American is unambiguous” was a direct response to the assertion that “Latin American’s feel sorry for us for not having a word that identifies us”. American identifies us just fine TO US. If we’re talking to someone else, someone from another part of the world, then clarification needs to be made. Just like chip vs french fry. It’s perfectly fine and unambiguous TO US. It is only when talking to another nationality that it might need to be clarified.

I am not at all “bothered” or “offended” or “upset” that other people use “American” to mean “from the Western Hemisphere”. I think it’s idiotic, as I’ve stated many times, to consider the entire Hemisphere one continent, and therefore to define “American” in that way. But does it bother me? No. I do not care. I do not care how other people use the word. That is the entire point of this absurd side track.

MrItty's avatar

(complete side note – I’m from NY. And if you told me you were from Washington, I would ask if you meant State or DC)

JLeslie's avatar

it is a generalization about the DC thing, not EVERYONE in NY makes the assumption. Are you in NYC?

Idiotic is still a mean word. When you use words like that it makes people defensive, you make them feel like you perceive tham as wrong. Like your point about how I worded my question poorly in your opinion. You are not using the same type of measure on yourself. And, I see the point you made about how we Americans know what we are talking about, I had misunderstood your point.

MrItty's avatar

Albany, for the past 12 years. Grew up in Western Massachusetts

<shrug> In this instance, yes, I do perceive them as “wrong”. Well, no, not “them”, but the concept that they are taught.

I will never understand why we are taught that Europe and Asia are two different continents. Similarly, I will never understand how anyone can look at a map of the western Hemisphere and say “one continent”. Both are equally absurd.

JLeslie's avatar

I used NY when I should have used NYC. Many in NYC take the shuttle and train to DC all of the time, so it is their first thought typically. It’s like I live in TN, and sometimes I say I lived in Raleigh, and they ask, “Raleigh, TN?” There is one close to Memphis. But I think most of the US thinks of Raleigh, NC.

By the way, I think you mentioned that Americans refusal to adopt metric is ridiculous. I agree.

MrItty's avatar

Hoo-rah for common ground!! :-)

tinyfaery's avatar

I learned Eurasia. When did they split?

MrItty's avatar

@tinyfaery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Continents_vide_couleurs.png Basically, Russia and a couple others are on “both” continents.

Nullo's avatar

I’ll grant that I’m probably a bit biased here, but I see it as a logical shortening of a pretty long name, owing to a unique structure. We are the States on the American continent that are United, after all.
Since we don’t have any other countries in the Americas with “America” in their names, we can use it without undue confusion.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

No, it doesn’t annoy me at all. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what we’re called in every country I’ve ever lived in or visited. It’s not just us. We’re called Americans even by the Canadians. Nord Americanos by the Latin countries south of us, and they mean the gringo from the states, not Canada. It may or may not be correct, but who am I to argue with 7 billion people? There are soooooo many more important things that we Americans should be paying attention to, @JLeslie—things that we can actually do something about. When I’m down south, I don’t much care what they call me, as long as it’s not La Cia.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Well, the question isn’t really aimed at Americans, it’s the other people who live in the Americas.

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