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Icebreaker

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Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
« Reply #150 on: January 13, 2014, 20:21 »
Well we agreed from the beginning then, I guess.


I wanted to quote this, by the way, because it sounds like the good ole "you have no right to comment on cycling because you don't cycle yourself."  :D

good for you.

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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #151 on: June 25, 2019, 04:56 »
    It's back!  :P



    A few recent conversations have inspired me to reopen this thread.  Namely, with the announcement that Chris Horner would be joining the crew over at NBC Sports for their coverage of the 2019 Tour de France, there was a suspiciously misinformed press release from the network that stated:
    Quote
    Chris Horner, the only American Grand Tour champion of the last 29 years, will make his Tour de France commentary debut with NBC Sports next month.

    The above quote has generated no shortage of outrage and disdain across social media. But the main reoccurring theme has me genuinely puzzled. It goes pretty much like this:

    Nevermind Armstrong, Landis, or LeMond.

    "Only American Grand Tour champion" - Hesjedal, Quintana, and Carapaz want to have a word with the country that has adopted the label for a whole continent and applies it to its own citizens only, pretending that Canada and Latin America are ... what exactly?
    The bloody arrogance. :angry

    https://twitter.com/NathanPeterHaas/status/1142127081041682432

    Not only has that been the sentiment of many, but the very same point was made at the beginning of this thread.
    Should we call it the United States, since doesn't the term "America" in this sense ignore Canada and everywhere else south of El Paso? ;)


    But this is where I have to jump in.



    Now don't get me wrong, I completely understand the point that Lukas is making in terms of the "American" media having an over-inflated sense of importance towards its own.

    However (and this goes to L'arri's original point as well)...

    What the heck are we supposed to call ourselves?

    It's literally right there, in the name! The United States of America.

    Our flag is known only as "The American flag." Sure, there are some nicknames for it (as others have for their flags, too) but no other official names. And no one on the planet would confuse the reference for any other flag.

    There is no other generally accepted term for the citizens of the United States. "Yanks" or "Yankees" gets tossed around by some, but don't use that term to describe any Southerners. And if you called someone from the west coast a "Yankee," they likely wouldn't even know what you were talking about.

    But that's nothing compared with the more international interpretation of the word "American."

    The terms "South American" and "Central American" certainly get their fair share of use, and there's no confusion as to to which people and countries that might apply to. But "North American" is rarely used to described the collection of people north of Mexico. Mexicans living in Mexico don't refer to themselves as "American," and I can guarantee you that Canadians most certainly do NOT refer to, or like to think of themselves as, "Americans." If anything, most Canadians are proudly not "American." Many of them take a rather dim view towards the neighbors on their southern border.

    Also, "American citizenship" is exactly what immigrants who come to the U.S are seeking if they wish to stay. What else would you call it?

    For that matter, I've never met anyone from Brazil, Perú, Costa Rica or any of their neighboring countries who referred to themselves as "Americans," nor have I ever met anyone from those countries who took issue with how the citizens of the the U.S. most commonly refer to themselves.

    The use of the term, it would seem, is something that only upsets Europeans.
     :D

    When referring to the land mass, the term "North America" is no more controversial than the broader term of "the Americas." Either tends to be a mostly dispassionate description of geography. But throw in that small little "n" and suddenly people from afar are creating something out of nothing.

    The inhabitants of the U.S. get plenty of flak for plenty of things that they deserve.

    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #152 on: June 25, 2019, 05:36 »

    But "North American" is rarely used to described the collection of people north of Mexico. Mexicans living in Mexico don't refer to themselves as "American," and I can guarantee you that Canadians most certainly do NOT refer to, or like to think of themselves as, "Americans." If anything, most Canadians are proudly not "American." Many of them take a rather dim view towards the neighbors on their southern border.


    Will disagree on the comment about "North American" being rarely used - on our side of the 49th at least. Likely because there is no (mis?)appropriation of "American" up in the Great White North, we can happily use that term.

    Or is it perhaps simply that we have a much better knowledge of geography than most of you guys???   :-x :D :-x

    As a related observation, a large proportion of the time, references up here are made to "US" - as in ""last US winner" or the "US cyclist", etc. That said, "American" is, of course, also used.
    I've never heard anyone get upset with the US adopting the term ... with the fawning bullsh*t that some of the media has for all things American (eg., watch CBC coverage of the Olympics and you'll start asking whether that first "C" really means "Canadian"), but not for the use of the term ...

    Absolutely agree with the comment about most Canadians not wanting to be associated with folks from the US though. We take much delight in being nicer, smarter and all around better than our immediate neighbours. :o :o :o

    That said, since I live in Quebec, I take a dim view on being associated with many parts of anglo Canada - all of Ontario for example!  :P - so maybe I'm not the best judge .... ??   ;)

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  • Archieboy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #153 on: June 25, 2019, 07:25 »
    [quote

    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
    [/quote]

    Drummer, we call you Septics in rhyming slang.

    Septic tanks = Septics = Yanks

    As in "the septics won the football yesterday..."
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #154 on: June 25, 2019, 09:23 »
    But what else are we supposed to call ourselves?!?!
    :slow
    Mexico - Mexicans
    Germany - Germans
    Italy - Italians

    Logically, the inhabitants of the US(A) are USians - pronounced you-zee-ans. :D
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    Joelsim

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #155 on: June 25, 2019, 11:45 »
    Just call yourselves Bubba.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #156 on: June 25, 2019, 13:09 »
    Just call yourselves Bubba.



    Seriously though, it's been quite interesting reading back through the entirety of this thread, especially given the political shifts and developments since this topic was started in 2014.
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  • « Last Edit: June 25, 2019, 13:35 by Drummer Boy »

    Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #157 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:
    Usonian
    United-Statesian
    Columbian
     Columbard
     Fredonian
    Frede
    Unisian
    United Statesian
    Colonican
    Appalacian
    Usian
    Washingtonian
    Usonian
    Uessian
    U-S-ian
    Uesican
    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 »

    Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #158 on: June 25, 2019, 21:13 »
    I think even Noam Chomsky, who can't be considered a US chauvinist, admitted that the demonym "American" to refer to the people of the USA is not indicative of the US will to represent the whole American continent and to disregard other nations but only comes from the linguistic difficulty to coin a demonym out of "United States".

    As Armchair said, the word "états-unien" exists in French, even in the Larousse dictionary, but is not often used. I've only heard it used by people who hate the USA and who wish to real distinguish between the USA and the rest of the continent. As a native speaker of French, I also feel it's ugly and artificial. I would always used the word "Américain". Usually the context would clearly point out if you are strictly referring to the USA or to the whole continent.

    However in order to settle it, why wouldn't we simply use the word "Pan-American" to refer to the whole continent? The word also exists in French and I guess in many other languages. Then the demonym "American" can still be used of the people in the USA...


    By the way, the same debate could've occurred with the United Arab Emirates. Obviously, they are not the only ones who could call themselves Arabs but fortunately, the demonym "Emirati" (existing in English, French, Spanish and other languages, I guess) works perfectly.
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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #159 on: June 25, 2019, 22:03 »
    in German "US-Amerikaner" is a commonly used term for inhabitants of the USA.
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    Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #160 on: June 26, 2019, 02:05 »
    There are several terms that have been proposed, mainly several decades ago, or even in the early post-independence era:

    I did not know any of that. Honestly, I really hadn't explored the topic beyond my own experiences and observations, and the contributions of others to this thread.

    I wasn't even certain if you were serious or not at first  :P, but clearly you are historically accurate (as I have since learned).

    Interesting stuff!  :cool
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  • Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #161 on: June 26, 2019, 08:47 »
    but clearly you are historically accurate

    As much so as Wikipedia allows: I find this sort of thing interesting, but evidently not enough so to have researched it widely.
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  • Drummer Boy

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #162 on: June 26, 2019, 13:16 »
    As much so as Wikipedia allows: I find this sort of thing interesting, but evidently not enough so to have researched it widely.

    What I find equally interesting is that we were never taught any of this in school. I remember one high school history class in particular where we spent all of about ten days on the Revolutionary War, and a good six weeks on the Salem Witch Trials.

     :S

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  • Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #163 on: June 27, 2019, 21:53 »
    By the way, I just found out an article about the most spoken languages as native languages in the USA.

    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-spoken-languages-in-america.html

    First of all I'm sad to see that no Amerindian languages make it in the top25.

    Second I'm glad to see that French, coupled with French Creole, was still the 4th most spoken language. I've really been fascinated by Cajun history for quite a while now and know that they've been oppressed by almost a century of coercitive cultural assimilation. By the late 20th century, few Cajuns would still speak French as main language. Yet Louisiana reopened French school and there was a great French "immersion programme" for learning French in the nineties but it seems that those who would learn French were not historical Cajuns.

    I don't know if anyone of you know more about that.

    1   English   231,122,908
    2   Spanish   37,458,470
    3   Chinese (incl. Cantonese, Mandarin, other Chinese languages)   2,896,766
    4   French and French Creole   2,047,467
    5   Tagalog   1,613,346
    6   Vietnamese   1,399,936
    7   Korean   1,117,343
    8   German   1,063,773
    9   Arabic   924,374
    10   Russian   879,434
    11   Italian   708,966
    12   Portuguese   693,469
    13   Hindi   643,337
    14   Polish   580,153
    15   Japanese   449,475
    16   Urdu   397,502
    17   Persian   391,113
    18   Gujarati   373,253
    19   Greek   304,932
    20   Bengali   257,740
    21   Panjabi   253,740
    22   Telugu   247,760
    23   Armenian   237,840
    24   Hmong   214,943
    25   Hebrew   212,747

    This page was last updated on June 12, 2018.
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  • Kiwirider

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #164 on: June 28, 2019, 02:20 »
    By the way, I just found out an article about the most spoken languages as native languages in the USA.

    https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-spoken-languages-in-america.html

    I don't know if anyone of you know more about that.

    1   English   231,122,908

    Having spent a ton of time working with Americans inside and outside of the US, I've got to say that I'm surprised that English scores as highly on that list as it does ...

      :P
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