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RareDenver's avatar

Who is the English flavour of American?

Asked by RareDenver (13089 points ) January 7th, 2010

You often hear people say that they are Italian-American, Irish-American, African-American, Czech-American etc. It’s like a Baskin-Robbins over there but never have I heard someone say they are English-American.

There must be some there that can trace their families back to England, especially seeing as the majority of you speak English but where are they all hiding?

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28 Answers

aprilsimnel's avatar

Those are what we call WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) over here. Those are the English-Americans.

mrentropy's avatar

I can trace some family members back to England. I don’t say I’m anything but American, though, because I’m American. Also, the family has been here for so long I’m not just English. I guess I could say I was English-Irish-Scottish-Native American. That would cover a part of it. But that’s kind of long and awkward.

marinelife's avatar

They just don’t self identify that way. My ancestry is English (along with a few other things).

RareDenver's avatar

@aprilsimnel isn’t calling someone a WASP another way of calling them a racist?

mrentropy's avatar

@aprilsimnel I protest, as I am not Protestant. I’m a ‘WAS’.

Jeruba's avatar

Maybe it is now, @RareDenver, but it didn’t used to be. Are you suggesting (a) that “English-Americans” ought to be ashamed of their heritage and/or (b) that all of them hate people of other backgrounds?

aprilsimnel's avatar

Not originally, @RareDenver. It is now because many people have assumed that WASPs are both rich and stuck-up, when only a few WASPs are or were either/or.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’m just American. English/Welsh descent on my fathers side. Prussian/Alsatian German on my mothers. It’s just easier to say “American”.

Sarcasm's avatar

Just like their Tea, the British flavour is bland, and is assimilated by the American flavor.
see what I did with flavour/flavor?

“English-American” sounds weird for some reason. “British-American” sounds righter (somehow, Chrome does not tell me “righter” is spelled wrong).

RareDenver's avatar

@Jeruba I’m not suggesting anything, I’m just asking the questions, and being English myself I certainly don’t think “English-Americans” ought to be ashamed of their heritage and/or that all of them hate people of other backgrounds

susanc's avatar

Many early white Anglo-Saxon Protestants came to America from England as indentured servants – that is, slaves for 7 years (unless their contract specified otherwise) and then freed to scrape along as well as they could with no capital to get going on.
Better than whatever they had in the old country!
My ancestors came here in this way and scrabbled upwards for enough generations to become the old guard.
Most long-acclimated immigrants are crappy to newer ones, hoping to defend their territory. It’s a national tradition – and not just here. Try France sometime.

Darwin's avatar

Many of my European ancestors were neither Angles nor Saxons. They were Celts, who were not fans of the whole Anglo-Saxon business at all. Our family’s European heritage includes Scottish, Irish, English, French, German, and Polish of varying types. Some of the French were Heugonots, some of the Germans Jewish and others Catholic, some of the English were Quakers, and some of the Scots were Presbyterians. At least a few of our ancestors were scoundrels of various sorts. And then you have to blend in the African and Japanese components, plus the Hawaiian, Filipino and Korean bits.

So we prefer to say we are “Americans.” That is so much simpler.

AnnieB's avatar

I can trace relatives back to England, Ireland, and Scotland…but, I’m not from any of those places, my ancestors were. I am just plain ol’ American.

daemonelson's avatar

Possibly because they don’t want to make anything of it.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@Darwin – We might be related! (j/k) Some of my ancestors were Huguenots, too. I also have a lot of Celtic influence in there, with a much smaller portion being comprised of Portugese, English, German, and Dutch. I’m also supposedly related to William Penn and the cousin of President John Adams.

Trillian's avatar

Well, my family is a combo plate. English and Scots Irish on my dad’s side, and Hungarian and French Indian on my mom’s. What a mouthful that would make me if I tried to acknowledge them all. And since I was Wiccan until three or so years ago, would that have made me a WASW? I wonder if the designation P was meant to differentiate from the Catholics, and if so, if it were a hold over form the Irish immigration flood. I don’t know much about that whole thing, but that the Catholics HATED the Protestants and vice versa, I guess.

Darwin's avatar

@MissAnthrope – President Monroe is from the same bunch of Monroes that we are, but otherwise we aren’t descended from anyone particularly famous. And the particular Monroe from which we both descend was not a very nice fellow. He kept taking other people’s sheep back home (and was on the flat-lander side of the Scottish- British imbroglio) so left his wife and kiddies there, fled to the New World, remarried and had 17 more kids. Eventually he left and went back to Scotland.

judochop's avatar

I am Irish American. Second generation. We hold strong to traditional dish and festivity. I’ve never seen anything wrong with it.
Do Indians born in England say they are English or Indian?

RareDenver's avatar

@judochop most tend to identify as British-Indian in that case, you get a few hardcore types that only call themselves Indian but I bet they would change their tune when someone tried to take their British passport off them, lol

Jeruba's avatar

It probably made more sense back in the “melting pot” days of heavy U.S. immigration to pay a lot of attention to one’s extraction. Americans whose families have been here for more than a couple of generations are apt to be well mixed. As other societies become more multicultural as well, it’s less and less meaningful to identify some particular heritage with national citizenship. What would it mean now to say I am English-American (which I am, in part, though not for many generations) when the U.K. now enfolds so many ethnicities? These distinctions are rapidly losing their meaning in a global culture.

As a postscript to @judochop‘s question, did Englishmen born in India after 1947 ever call themselves Indians?

eponymoushipster's avatar

Probably, aside from what’s been said above, the “closest” remaining Anglo-Americans would be New Englanders – Maine, Mass, CT, NH, RI, etc. Also, I forget which county exactly (Sussex?) but in VA there is a pocket where the locals still speak with a type of English accent. It’s very near where the first settlements in what would become the US were, in any case.

filmfann's avatar

Most Wasps just say Scottish or Irish or English or French or Italian or whatever.

janbb's avatar

Just asked my husband and he said he would say he was “English, and an American citizen for 35 years.”

majorrich's avatar

Alas, I cannot help. I am Japanese. But I speak American English.

Darwin's avatar

@majorrich – As my husband would say, We are surprised you speak our ranguage. He, too, is of Japanese ancestry but speaks American English.

anartist's avatar

Maybe the majority of emigres from England were Protestant, but not all are—and WASP is so loaded with connotation. Term is Anglo-American. My situation is somewhat similar to @mrentropy ‘s [I can trace my family back to the 1600s] but like mrentropy says, been here so long just say American. An interesting variant on this topic is whether AngloAmericans and ScotsAmericans and DutchAmericans consider themselves to be part of the founding fathers and the combined heritage terms don’t even occur to them

janbb's avatar

@anartist My friend was the librarian at the Holland American Society for a while and they definitely were keen on their heritage.

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