OT - Referring to the U.S. as "America"

Submitted by Laveranues on June 23rd, 2010 at 9:16 AM

Does anyone else find it slightly arrogant and distasteful when Americans refer to the US as America?  (I'm looking at you, Mike Tirico and Bob Ley).

This bothered me during the olympics and even more during the World Cup.  If someone asks where you are from, it makes sense to say "I'm an American."  But if you were to phrase it like "I'm from...," I think the appropriate response is "the US" or "the USA" or "the States."

To refer to the US as America is doing a disservice to South Americans, Central Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians.



June 23rd, 2010 at 10:59 AM ^

He has to be one of the best salesman in the history of the U.S.  Looking back now that I am older, he is a horrific wrestler but boy could he sell you on the product.  His charisma and showmanship are unbelievable.  Everyone from my generation (I was born in 1981) wanted to be the Hulkster.


June 23rd, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

I plus oned.

I was huge fan of Hulk Hogan growing up in the 80s. I actually went and saw a WCW match in Van Andel Arena, but I never took it that seriously, except for when I was 11 and thought Hogan and Michael Jordan were the two greatest people who ever lived.


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:22 AM ^

As you say, it depends on the context and how it is phrased... most of the time I don't see a problem with it.... but sometimes yeah, it does sound arrogant or it sounds as if the person does not know that there is an entire continent out there


June 23rd, 2010 at 10:48 AM ^

It's never a problem, ever.  The OPs position is the very definition of ridiculous.  I've spent weeks at a time in Europe for business, and Europeans ask  "are you from America?"  I suppose they are arrogant too? And how many countries that the OP listed actually have "America" in the proper name of their country?


June 23rd, 2010 at 11:19 AM ^

When a foreigner refers to the US as America, that is inarguably ok.  The whole point is that, when an American says it, it comes across as smug.

An analogy:  complementing yourself is boasting, but someone else complementing you is unremarkable.  In that analogy, claiming sole ownership of the entity "America" is boastful, even if non-americans do the same. 


June 23rd, 2010 at 11:31 AM ^

It's not boastful, not even one small bit. Again, it is the proper name of this country. No other country has that in it's proper name. The simple fact that other people in other countries refer to it way invalidates your entire argument, which rests upon the flawed assumption of our supposed boastfulness. Sorry, but the notion that referring to a shorthand version of your own country's proper name is somehow boasting is mushy headed thinking of the highest order.


June 23rd, 2010 at 11:35 AM ^

Get a grip on yourself. Since when does it follow that referring to oneself as "American" equate to claiming sole ownership of a continent or two? I know of no one - and have never heard of anyone - for whom that's true. If you think it is, or even if you believe that's what citizens of other countries think, I don't even know what to say.

And, let's take your analogy a bit further ... African-Americans. Are People of Color claiming sole ownership of not one continent, but two? How about Pacific Islanders? Are you suggesting that they claim an entire ocean or just all of its atolls and sea mounts?

Finally, if you bother to read the comments on this thread, there are some pretty lucid and compelling reasons why calling oneself an "American" is neither arrogant, nor a claim to ownership.


June 23rd, 2010 at 11:54 AM ^

We should probably get offended because Netherlands refers to itself as the United Provinces.  Or when somebody points out that Germany can be called the United States of Germany.


Or how about this, why do people from the Democratic Republic of Congo just get referred to as being from the Congo?  The Congo is bigger than just the Democratic Republic!!!!  I bet you Rwandans get just as pissed off when people call the DRC the Congo.


June 23rd, 2010 at 12:05 PM ^

Arrogant? Sir, I am, an American. I was born an American; I live an American; I shall die an American; and I intend to perform the duties incumbent upon me in that character to the end of my career. I mean to do this, with absolute disregard of personal consequences.

What are personal consequences? What is the individual man, with all the good or evil that may betide him, in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country in a crisis like this, and in the midst of great transactions which concern that country's fate?

Let the consequences be what they will, I am careless. No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffer, or if he fall, in defense of the liberties and Constitution of his country.

EDIT: No love for the greatest orator in the history of the United States of America?


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:21 AM ^

I've always told people that America consists of every country from the northern tip of Alaska and Canada down to Argentina/Chile because in reality we are the United States OF America...not America. And obviously the name coming from Amerigo Vespucci.

I dont think its that big of a deal but I usually say the United States.


June 23rd, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

Then how do you define "Mexico"?  The country to our south is the United States of Mexico.  The word "of" does not imply "part of a larger entity beyond this."  Now, if it were the "United States in America," you might have a point.

The area from Alaska to Chile is the Americas - plural. 


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:22 AM ^

are we?  I bet you expected a lot of posbangs and pats on the back for your heroic stance against the Imperial American empire, hmm?

We're America because America is in our fucking name.  Deal with it.  If S. America merges into one futbol team, tell them to feel free to do the same thing.


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:24 AM ^

The only place I've ever encountered this issue is in Canada. They aren't fond of us referring to ourselves as "Americans". They say the US and Canadian citizens are all Americans. I don't care either way, I guess.


June 23rd, 2010 at 10:31 AM ^

If we're not Americans, what are we? United Statesians? United States of Americans? What ever ...

Tell any Canadien's that complain, it's an abreviation you hoser.

It does bother me a little when America is used in place of the Untied States, or the United States of America in a public speech with likely international interest. Me personally, I guess I like the notions behind that united states part, and having been many places in the world am worldly enough to recognize that America is not specific enough.

But still ... what ever ...


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:27 AM ^

It seems to me that in most places, "America" is more common and easier to say than the "United States" equivalent in that language.

I have relatives in Turkey and France, and America is a lot easier than "Birlesik Devletleri" or "Les Etats Unis".

So no... I don't have an issue with it.  


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:30 AM ^

well, we're in all sorts of weird name issues in n.america. technically, mexico is los estados unidos de mexico, which, of course, is the united states of mexico.


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:30 AM ^

So is saying you're South African an insult to the other countries in south Africa? Are we supposed to call them from "the Republic" or from the "R.o."?

No, we call them South Africans. We call ourselves Americans.


June 23rd, 2010 at 9:33 AM ^

In spanish class I was taught the citizens of mexico and central/south american countries hate it when residents of the United States say that we're from "America".  "Soy americano", "I am American", supposedly applies to everyone on either continent.

On the other hand, if we're not exclusive Americans, what are we?  Mexico has Mexicans, Chile has Chileans, and the United States of America has Americans.  We're not going around calling ourselves United Statesians, are we?  Let's ask Wikipedia.

The demonym for citizens of the United States of America suffers a similar problem albeit non-politically, because "American" may ambiguously refer to both the nation, the USA, and the conjoined continent pair, North and South America. United Statian is awkward in English, but it exists in Spanish (estadounidense), French (étatsunien(ne), although americain(e) is preferred), Portuguese (estado-unidense or estadunidense), Italian (statunitense), and also in Interlingua (statounitese). US American (for the noun) and US-American (when used as a compound modifier preceding a noun) is another option, and is a common demonym in German (US-Amerikaner). Latin Americans (who are the most affected by this use of American) also have yanqui (Yankee) and the euphemism norteamericano/norte-americano 'North American, which technically includes the USA, Mexico and Canada, but is frequently used in Spanish to refer to the United States only. Frank Lloyd Wright popularized Usonian, from the abbreviation for United States of North America, and which is used Esperanto (country Usono, demonym Usonano, adjective usona). In the spirit of Sydneysider, Statesider is also sometimes seen. See main article: Names for Americans.

As usual, Wikipedia knows everything about everything.  With that said, I think we have a right to refer to ourselves however we want.

A Case of Blue

June 23rd, 2010 at 7:08 PM ^

I speak French and Spanish, so I'm going to offer my unscientific opinion:

Calling oneself  étatsunien(ne) just sounds weird.  I mean, the Le Monde headline post-9/11 was Nous sommes tous americains, and that's how I've always identified myself in French.

In Spanish, it's not uncommon to use estadounidense, but Mexico is los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, so it's also - technically - not specific.  But people know what you mean. 

When I was living in Central America, I would tell people I was gringa, and that was usually understood to mean I was from the U.S.  Some places use the term more generally, though.


June 23rd, 2010 at 10:23 AM ^

As someone else pointed out, we are not simply "The United States" because there are other countries that are "The United States of  ____." We are America, The United States of. Therefore it makes sense that we would be called American.

The more proper term would actually be 'Murikan, stemming from the German, 'Murika. The original 'Murikans hailed from an island just off of the coast of Greece named 'Deytuk orjabs.