Armchair Cyclist

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Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
« Reply #150 on: June 25, 2019, 16:50 »
What the heck are we supposed to call ourselves?

There are several terms that have been proposed, mainly several decades ago, or even in the early post-independence era:
United Statesian
United Stater.

But language is dependent on popular uptake, and that has not been achieved by any of these.

I would tend to support the right of a people to choose their name: I object to the attempt of UK press, media and public to often try to force "Republic of Ireland" or "Eire" upon the country whose name is "Ireland", and although I have never knowingly met anyone from Skopje, I would be perfectly happy for them to introduce themselves as Macedonian without any geographical qualifiers or allusions to a dissolved state.   

And yet it is the perceived arrogance that some Greek influences have about a name applicable beyond the borders of the nation that is the issue in these comments about the adjectival references to the USA (not the only United States in the world either: cf Mexico and, I think but don't have time to check right now, Malaysia).  Of course, the perceived arrogance of the country's political activities and of some of its citizens abroad is also an issue in the response to the mode of self reference.  We never say the same of the Netherlands, although "the Low Countries" is generally taken to be a term that encompasses three nation-states, and the northeastern corner of India does not seem to consider it's identity or territory threatened by Bangladesh's name.

Even in languages that do have a simple demonym for Trumponian (and I wouldn't put it past him to propose that as a solution), the less specific term seems to have greater traction in colloquial use.  Americain(e), Amerikaner and american@ are more used in French, German and Italian than  étatsunien(ne), US_Amerikaner or statunitense.  And in South America, norteamerican@ is used, presumably with Mexico considered part of América Central, and Canada ignored.

Some country names are not easily turned into adjectives, and yet while we have no problem using New Zealand as both noun and adjective, there is a marked reluctance to do so with United States and United Kingdom, resulting in, respectively, the current debate and an adjective relevant to 3 constituent countries being applied to all 4.

And then Denmark and Netherlands both apply the same name to both a constituent country and a conglomeration of countries.
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  • « Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 17:02 by Armchair Cyclist »


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