The use of the word "American" by citizens of the USA

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I've said it before, but here we go again: the first recorded use of the word "American" to referred to the English colonists in what is now the United States in the 1640s, in The English-American: A New Survey of the West Indies.

Also, as far as central and South American countries are concerned, the nuances of the language is such that the only way to refer to US citizens is to basically say "American" in their language, while the only other word basically means "person from North America".

We get it from our mother country (England) referring to themselves as being "British" despite there being about three or four other nations on the British Isles (it depends on whether you count Wales or the "Isle of Mann as a nation"... Hell if you really want to stretch it you can consider people from Cornwall or Northumberland as being Nations as well)

Joking aside, far more people, at least where I live, refer to this nation as America rather then the United States. As far as I can tell, Mexicans refer to themselves as Mexicans, Canadians refer to themselves as Canadians, and so on. Sure the continent may be known as "The Americas" but I mean most if not all nations on the continent are descended from Colonies, it's not like anyone has the exclusive right to be known as "American" most nations have about equal claims to the title... Except the United States, which I personally believe has the greatest claim of them all.

The United States was the first colony on the Americas to gain it's independence. Virtually everywhere else was "British Territory" or "Spanish/Portugese Land". For a period of time, we were quite literally the only truly "American" nation. Why are the Brazilians, Canadians, Mexicans, Cubans, etc. Americans as well when we were the first to throw off the titles of "Citizens of the British/Spanish/Portugese/French/Dutch" Empire? We were the first to call ourselves "Americans". We were the first to grow a culture, history, and nationality completely separate from our former Colonial rulers, we were the first citizens of America, rather then Citizens of Europe. Wouldn't that give us rights to calling ourselves "Americans"?

Just food for thought.

Alright, here are some things you need to know, courtesy of the board's resident language teacher.

1.) Words have meaning.
2.) That meaning is derived by collective consensus, not etymology.
3.) Lots of people use "American" as a denonym for people from the United States.
4.) There is no other denonym for those people with any significant rates of usage.
5.) Get over it.

I'm the first person on this board to report American arrogance, ignorance, and cultural unawareness. The use of the word "American" is not one of those things.

Seriously, get over it.

Well shit. I think it's fine?

I think you're being needlessly pedantic and critical about something that is perfectly acceptable for people to say.

In different contexts, I would say different things, and they are all fine. I would say that I am from the United States, and that I am an American citizen. Because that's what is natural. In German I'd say ich komme aus amerika/den usa. In Chinese I'd say 我是美国人, but I'll say what is natural to my style of speech and where I'm from.

"American" is fine, and you seriously need to get over it.

-BONUS QUESTION! Regardless of where you live, do you believe, as I do, that precision of language is more important than socialization regarding terms such as these?

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

As proper as Cockney and it's ludicrous rhyming slang, which is a recognized sub-language of English.

This thread is completely pointless. Think of some other reason to hate us. Our obsession with shallow decadence. Our promotion of mediocrity (jerry springer, rebecca black, hot girls have problems too) Our terrible taste in food, whatever. Anything but this tired subject.

Volf:
I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

Ow ouch, that one was under the belt. ;-)

But to be honest, as a Dutchmen who's been presumed to have been from Liverpool based on his accent (still not sure if that's a compliment or an insult) I have an easier time understanding people from the US speaking with a bad 'black accent' than some others like many US southern rural accents. And they're very much alike at times too. For instance some people note that some blacks tend to say 'you know what I'm saying?' every second sentence. Not too unique however; many Americans I met tend to use the word 'like', like, at all times in every sentence in like a really annoying way. It's basically the same thing but in different words.

And aren't those regional permutations and expressions considered standard American English?

Witty Name Here:
We were the first to grow a culture, history, and nationality completely separate from our former Colonial rulers, we were the first citizens of America, rather then Citizens of Europe. Wouldn't that give us rights to calling ourselves "Americans"?

Just food for thought.

To throw a curve-ball; what about Native Americans? They had their own culture, history and nationality long before the first colonists set foot on the continent, wouldn't they have more of a right to call themselves Americans than you?

Shaoken:
To throw a curve-ball; what about Native Americans? They had their own culture, history and nationality long before the first colonists set foot on the continent, wouldn't they have more of a right to call themselves Americans than you?

They didn't see themselves as that though, so the answer to that would be a no. Besides, over more than a few generations, such differences are nullified anyway. Somebody is not going to become more American if his family has been in the place for 200, or for 400 years.

Yeah, nobody actually cares about this except OP.

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

As a language teacher, I'm going to jump in here:

It depends on what you mean by "proper".

If by "proper" you mean that it's a proper language, i.e. it fits all the criteria used to determine if vocalized sounds are language, then yes. Ebonics is definitely a language. And objectively speaking no language can ever be said to be superior or inferior to another. So in that sense, Ebonics is every bit as proper as S.A.E.

If by "proper" you mean a dialect that conveys an impression of prestige, status, and privilege in a society, no, Ebonics is not just as "proper". That doesn't make it incorrect. But I couldn't recommend speaking it during your job interview at JP Morgan Chase.

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

No more or less "proper" than Pennsylvania Dutch is to High German, to be honest. It's just another example of language evolving within a group of people. Ebonics gets a lot of shit, but it happens with all major languages. If two people speaking ebonics understand each other, I don't see a problem with ebonics itself.

Its the only valid word for its use. No one would consider a Mexican or Canadian an American despite being on the same continent. Though I do think that referring to the country as America is a little cliche.

Shaoken:

Witty Name Here:
We were the first to grow a culture, history, and nationality completely separate from our former Colonial rulers, we were the first citizens of America, rather then Citizens of Europe. Wouldn't that give us rights to calling ourselves "Americans"?

Just food for thought.

To throw a curve-ball; what about Native Americans? They had their own culture, history and nationality long before the first colonists set foot on the continent, wouldn't they have more of a right to call themselves Americans than you?

Thing is, most Native Americans or descendants therof:

A) Don't have a nation for their people, at least not an official one with their own private lands and territory

and B) Most Native Americans probably consider themselves to be much more then just "Americans", they aren't just "American" in their eyes. They're Iroqouis, Huron, Shawnee, Black Hawk, etc.

Katatori-kun:

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

As a language teacher, I'm going to jump in here:

It depends on what you mean by "proper".

If by "proper" you mean that it's a proper language, i.e. it fits all the criteria used to determine if vocalized sounds are language, then yes. Ebonics is definitely a language. And objectively speaking no language can ever be said to be superior or inferior to another. So in that sense, Ebonics is every bit as proper as S.A.E.

If by "proper" you mean a dialect that conveys an impression of prestige, status, and privilege in a society, no, Ebonics is not just as "proper". That doesn't make it incorrect. But I couldn't recommend speaking it during your job interview at JP Morgan Chase.

Especially since Ebonics is derived from Gullah. The fact that you question if it's legitimate when there's an entire culture to accompany that language including literature and music is bit insulting, especially to those who still practice traditional Gullah/Geechee culture.

Also on topic. But how many people really identify themselves as what continent they're from? Or in the case of Americans, set of 2? Because I have yet to meet a meso/south american who gets their feathers ruffled because I say I'm American. Because they tend to identify themselves by country/region/native tribe

Witty Name Here:

Shaoken:

Witty Name Here:
We were the first to grow a culture, history, and nationality completely separate from our former Colonial rulers, we were the first citizens of America, rather then Citizens of Europe. Wouldn't that give us rights to calling ourselves "Americans"?

Just food for thought.

To throw a curve-ball; what about Native Americans? They had their own culture, history and nationality long before the first colonists set foot on the continent, wouldn't they have more of a right to call themselves Americans than you?

Thing is, most Native Americans or descendants therof:

A) Don't have a nation for their people, at least not an official one with their own private lands and territory

and B) Most Native Americans probably consider themselves to be much more then just "Americans", they aren't just "American" in their eyes. They're Iroqouis, Huron, Shawnee, Black Hawk, etc.

To add on to this, depending on the tribe they can further separate themselves into bands. For example, I'm Cherokee, but I usually identify myself as Eastern Cherokee since that mean I come from band from an entirely separate region. I don't know how many smaller tribes do this, but in larger tribes it's more common.

Blablahb:

Volf:
I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

Ow ouch, that one was under the belt. ;-)

But to be honest, as a Dutchmen who's been presumed to have been from Liverpool based on his accent (still not sure if that's a compliment or an insult) I have an easier time understanding people from the US speaking with a bad 'black accent' than some others like many US southern rural accents. And they're very much alike at times too. For instance some people note that some blacks tend to say 'you know what I'm saying?' every second sentence. Not too unique however; many Americans I met tend to use the word 'like', like, at all times in every sentence in like a really annoying way. It's basically the same thing but in different words.

And aren't those regional permutations and expressions considered standard American English?

Saying like all the time isn't ebonics, however "you know what I'm saying?" or
"ya mean?" is ebonics. However ebonics also includes using words in a way that they were not originally intended, like referring to women as "shorties".

Ebonics can be really hard to understand, for example I have a school bus drive that spoke like that, and nobody ever knew what the guy was saying, it was like he was speaking a different language to us.

remnant_phoenix:
Two, half the time it's just plain wrong. Let's do some comparisons...

The correct pronunciation is "Murca!", good sir.

-BONUS QUESTION! Regardless of where you live, do you believe, as I do, that precision of language is more important than socialization regarding terms such as these?

They are not at odds.

Really, the problem boils down to the fact that "United States of America" is a lame name. It says "We are a bunch of States, that are United, in America". That's not a good name for aa country! That's a description. We need an awesome name! Like "Mutherfukkingmurca!" Which off course, is derived from one of the natives word for "she-who-makes-odd-tax-law". The exclamation mark is mandatory.

EClaris:

Katatori-kun:

Volf:
I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

As a language teacher, I'm going to jump in here:

It depends on what you mean by "proper".

If by "proper" you mean that it's a proper language, i.e. it fits all the criteria used to determine if vocalized sounds are language, then yes. Ebonics is definitely a language. And objectively speaking no language can ever be said to be superior or inferior to another. So in that sense, Ebonics is every bit as proper as S.A.E.

If by "proper" you mean a dialect that conveys an impression of prestige, status, and privilege in a society, no, Ebonics is not just as "proper". That doesn't make it incorrect. But I couldn't recommend speaking it during your job interview at JP Morgan Chase.

Especially since Ebonics is derived from Gullah. The fact that you question if it's legitimate when there's an entire culture to accompany that language including literature and music is bit insulting, especially to those who still practice traditional Gullah/Geechee culture.

Just to ask, is the "you" I underlined above addressing me or Volf?

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

Amusingly, that's not entirely inaccurate, or at least there have been points in history that actively espoused that exact mindset. I'm no english teacher, but if memory serves, English didn't have truly standardized spelling until maybe the 1800s, leading to various people throughout history to [supposedly] quip that they had "no respect for a man who can spell a word only one way" (which is attributed to Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson and Nyrum Reynolds, among others).

Katatori-kun:

EClaris:

Katatori-kun:

As a language teacher, I'm going to jump in here:

It depends on what you mean by "proper".

If by "proper" you mean that it's a proper language, i.e. it fits all the criteria used to determine if vocalized sounds are language, then yes. Ebonics is definitely a language. And objectively speaking no language can ever be said to be superior or inferior to another. So in that sense, Ebonics is every bit as proper as S.A.E.

If by "proper" you mean a dialect that conveys an impression of prestige, status, and privilege in a society, no, Ebonics is not just as "proper". That doesn't make it incorrect. But I couldn't recommend speaking it during your job interview at JP Morgan Chase.

Especially since Ebonics is derived from Gullah. The fact that you question if it's legitimate when there's an entire culture to accompany that language including literature and music is bit insulting, especially to those who still practice traditional Gullah/Geechee culture.

Just to ask, is the "you" I underlined above addressing me or Volf?

Volf. Sorry I should have made that clearer.

Asita:

Volf:

Chemical Alia:

Absolutely not. There is no language in the world that has never evolved or is without regional variation, and it's extremely arrogant to suggest that there is one "right way" to speak a language.

I hate to use a strawman but are you saying Ebonics is just as proper as S.A.E.?

Amusingly, that's not entirely inaccurate, or at least there have been points in history that actively espoused that exact mindset. I'm no english teacher, but if memory serves, English didn't have truly standardized spelling until maybe the 1800s, leading to various people throughout history to [supposedly] quip that they had "no respect for a man who can spell a word only one way" (which is attributed to Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson and Nyrum Reynolds, among others).

You'll have to forgive me if I don't take much of what Andrew Jackson says to heart on this subject.

EClaris:

Katatori-kun:

EClaris:
Especially since Ebonics is derived from Gullah. The fact that you question if it's legitimate when there's an entire culture to accompany that language including literature and music is bit insulting, especially to those who still practice traditional Gullah/Geechee culture.

Just to ask, is the "you" I underlined above addressing me or Volf?

Volf. Sorry I should have made that clearer.

So what if there is a culture or music behind it? That doesn't make it proper SAE.

Volf:
So what if there is a culture or music behind it? That doesn't make it proper SAE.

I detect some shifting goalposts here. First you asked if it was "as proper as" S.A.E. Now you are trying to argue it's not "the same as".

I wonder what point you're trying to make.

Volf:
You'll have to forgive me if I don't take much of what Andrew Jackson says to heart on this subject.

Can't say I blame you, but I would expect the attribution to Twain to hold a bit more weight.

Katatori-kun:

Volf:
So what if there is a culture or music behind it? That doesn't make it proper SAE.

I detect some shifting goalposts here. First you asked if it was "as proper as" S.A.E. Now you are trying to argue it's not "the same as".

I wonder what point you're trying to make.

Not quiet, my first comment was a question about Chemical Alia's opinion about ebonics, while the my second comment to EClaris was my opinion on ebonics.

I suppose it's because people in other countries within the continent's of North and South America can easily refer to themselves as a person of the country they live in, example: Mexican, Brazilian, Chilean. However, the terms Statian, Unitian, are not used, but rather American is used as the primary identifier. Country of orgin plus "citizen" is not used commonly by anyone, in any country, the only people using this type of speech is professionals, politicians, and politically correct blowhards.

I have never met anyone who has objected to the term American being used as an identifier for someone from the United States, nor have I ever met someone who resides within the American Continents, but not the USA, describe themselves as Americans.

Personal Opinion: Who cares? It's commonly accepted and is a true and vaild use of the term. I suppose that if there were people, for example from Mexico. Who wanted to call themselves Americans, while still maintaining residence in Mexico, I would not object, but would point out that they may confuse some people as that is not the commonly accepted identifier.

Its the actual term for the nationallity, we don't call people from the UK United Kingdomians, we don't call people form the Peoples Rupblic of we call them British. We don't call people form the Peoples Rupblic of China "Peoples Republicans", we call them chinese. Calling the country "America" may be wrong, but the people from the USA are americans, its just the proper term.

thaluikhain:
I prefer USian or USAlian, at least in writing.

It gets annoying when you say "Americas" meaning teh continents, and people think you mean the US.

Is there ever really a situation in which you need to refer to the collective people form both continents? I know there are times to use "North Americans" and "South Americans" but I can't think of a time when you need to refer to both,

drisky:
Its the actual term for the nationallity, we don't call people from the UK United Kingdomians, we don't call people form the Peoples Rupblic of we call them British. We don't call people form the Peoples Rupblic of China "Peoples Republicans", we call them chinese. Calling the country "America" may be wrong, but the people from the USA are americans, its just the proper term.

Well, there's only one place that can (in modern terms), be called Britain.

Mind you, for a very long time, the US government didn't use the term "Chinese" so much, it was "mainland Chinese", to differentiate the Republic of China (better known as Taiwan) from the People's Republic of China.

drisky:

thaluikhain:
I prefer USian or USAlian, at least in writing.

It gets annoying when you say "Americas" meaning teh continents, and people think you mean the US.

Is there ever really a situation in which you need to refer to the collective people form both continents? I know there are times to use "North Americans" and "South Americans" but I can't think of a time when you need to refer to both,

Not the people, the continents. Happened to me a few weeks ago, in the context of "Holland isn't a country, it's two provinces in (the) Netherlands, which is part of The Kingdom of (the) Netherlands, along with bits in the Americas".

I've been told some of the "the"s shouldn't be in there

Volf:

Katatori-kun:

Volf:
So what if there is a culture or music behind it? That doesn't make it proper SAE.

I detect some shifting goalposts here. First you asked if it was "as proper as" S.A.E. Now you are trying to argue it's not "the same as".

I wonder what point you're trying to make.

Not quiet, my first comment was a question about Chemical Alia's opinion about ebonics, while the my second comment to EClaris was my opinion on ebonics.

Cool opinion bro? I don't know who was trying to make the point that Ebonics/Gullah were the same as SAE. But thanks for re affirming that they aren't.

EClaris:

Volf:

Katatori-kun:

I detect some shifting goalposts here. First you asked if it was "as proper as" S.A.E. Now you are trying to argue it's not "the same as".

I wonder what point you're trying to make.

Not quiet, my first comment was a question about Chemical Alia's opinion about ebonics, while the my second comment to EClaris was my opinion on ebonics.

Cool opinion bro? I don't know who was trying to make the point that Ebonics/Gullah were the same as SAE. But thanks for re affirming that they aren't.

Never said they were the same, just that one is the proper way of speaking.

United states of america. Seems natural to shorten in to US or USA for written form, and America works just fine as a short hand for the spoken word.

Neither Mexico nor Canada refer to themselves as "American" nor do we say we live in "North America" in general use (ie - unless the topic is something like "which countries are in NA" or "who is in NAFTA)

So, whoever is upset about America/American being used should just get that stick out of their nether regions.

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