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Why "America" instead of "United States of America"?

Why "America" instead of "United States of America"?

Nov 28th, 2004, 11:33 PM
  #1  
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Why "America" instead of "United States of America"?

This question may have already been asked, but I have always wondered why most unitedstatians call themselves "americans" and refer to their country as "america". To my knowledge, there are five continents: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Spaniards refer to ourselves as Spanish and not Europeans.

I reckon that an Argentinian is as much American as a Canadian, Costa Rican or somebody from the USA. Moreover, and if there were 6 continents (North and South America as separated units), Canadians and Mexicans would also be Americans with the same rights to this name as those from the USA.

It puzzles many of us here in Europe, sorry, Spain. Any idea why the name has been appropriated in such an overwhelming way?

Regards,
mikelg is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 12:23 AM
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I suspect you'll get more comments about your "geography" than you will an answer to your question.

Generally speaking, seven continents are recognized: North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.

I suspect a lot of other people from the Americas (both North and South) do not call themselves "americans" for fear of being confused as being from the USA...the Canadians for example. Perfectly understandable and for many reasons best not explored in fluffland.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 12:43 AM
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mikelg : Are there other countries with the word "America" in them, specifically as USA? Then the answer is because we all, as humans, speak in abbreviations.
There is no "CPA" or "Canadian Provinces of America".
There is no "USM" or "United States of Mexico".
There is no "ESM" or "Estados Unidos de Espana".
Is this what you're asking?
MaxwellSmart is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:04 AM
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Well, since I always get shouted down whenever I request that people refer to specific countries within Europe, rather than haphazardly stating 'Europe' and thus inferring some homogenized mass (and quite rudely ignoring all cultural, political and linguistic variations), I can't wait to find out how this post goes....! :-s
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:06 AM
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Why "America" instead of "United States of America"?

Because it's shorter.

Next question...
PatrickLondon is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:07 AM
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Sorry to correct you, Estados Unidos Mexicanos is the name of the country, according to their constitution.

The thing is that I find it odd that one country has taken the name of the whole continent (in Europe we are taught that there are 5 continents, not 7), and while it is true that unitedstatesofamericans are "americans", it is also true for Colombians, for example. To me, America is the continent, USA is the country, Canada is another country, etc.

By the way, would Central America be the eigth continent? Where would we leave Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, etc, etc?
mikelg is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:30 AM
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The question is based on an incorrect assumption.

Citizens of the United States didn't appropriate the term. Europeans did.

In Britain and Ireland, we happily described the tax-dodging rebels as "America" while the traitors were punctilious about describing their invention as "the United States". Alexis de Tocqueville didn't write "Democratie en Amerique" in 1836 about Latin America (not least because it would have been an extraordinarily thin book).

How we - that is the world communities of English and French speakers - came to call the US "America" might be an interesting philological discussion for us really obscurantist pedants. Indeed, were my copy of the full Oxford Dictionary not still in store, I'd happily bore mikelg with how it happened.

But the net result of the decisions made by the people of Britain (sorry. And Ireland) is that the English for the most populous country in the Americas is America.

Any other term is simply bad, pretentious and incomprehensible English.
flanneruk is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:30 AM
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I understand what you wrote, but it is not a correction. You have reinforced my point. Mexicans are from Estados Unidos Mexicanos just as Americans are from United States of America. Claro?
MaxwellSmart is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:33 AM
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...and Brazilians come from the United States of Brazil
elaine is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:34 AM
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eeGAD, flanner. Are you still talking? Do you get paid by the word? Don't answer.
fehgeddaboudit is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:46 AM
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But, then again, Mexico or Brazil are not the name of the continent...
mikelg is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:49 AM
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Egg
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I remember Dickens using the term United Statesmen, but I suppose that would be politically incorrect these days
 
Nov 29th, 2004, 01:54 AM
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I suppose the next question will be about what to wear when you want someone to call you a "United Statesian of America" or better yet, "one of those tax-dodging rebels who pulled Britain out of a jam during WW II"???
Intrepid1 is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:03 AM
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Intrepid1: '..pulled Britain out of a jam..'? You are joking, right???
Tallulah is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:14 AM
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mikelg, having thrown in your lot with all the other Europeans who (allegedly) think there's only five continents, maybe you'd better quit while you're behind. Intrepid is right, you're wrong, end of story. Argentinians may be (South) Americans, but they've lost out in the nomenclature stakes, along with everybody else south of the border, not to mention the Canadians, who don't have a thin Iberian skin and so very sensibly don't care, and there's no reason for the Americans to concede on this one.

(BTW - Intrepid, fair point perhaps, but are we talking about the same tax dodgers who reluctantly got involved two years after the rest of us, and only after being attacked by the Japanese?)
Neil_Oz is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:19 AM
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hi mikelg,
Uh oh, you struck an early morning nerve with this question!
"The "United States of America" isn't really a name in the first place, but more of a needed description of the thing, It was a phrase used by the fellows who were forming our constitution as a way of bringing together the various (and some nefarious) European colonies that were trying to cobble together a unified country during our birth years.

Your question is interesting since both the continents of North America and South America seem to have been named after a European explorer wanting to claim them for his European sponsor. (Amerigo Vespucci) (Talk about massive "appropriation!)

Undoubtedly, all these lands were called other things by the indigenous peoples living here when the Europeans arrived to take things over! (think Cristoforo Colombo and friends)

So mekelg, what would you have us northamericanese call it??.

Here are a few ideas, but we're always open to suggestions...,
VespucciLand?
Diversania?
The Burning Dawn?
South Canada Plus?
Ashtarasia?
Gang of 52?
Rebellian Republic?
The Turtle Nation? (honor those who came first)

Any other suggestions?
bellastar is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:40 AM
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I have no objection whatsoever in people or countries calling themselves the way they want. But, since America is a continent divided in two sub-continents (or three, north, central and south) and formed by various countries, I wonder why just one country has taken the name reflecting the totality of a geographic area exceeding its boundaries.

Eventually, Europe will probably be named United States of Europe...after centuries of political turmoil...
mikelg is online now  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:46 AM
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Sorry for my double post! I've been having trouble with the fodors site lately, and hit the button twice!

mikelg- the list of other name is meant in good humor

It's helpful to understand that North America and South America are two separate continents, one is not a sub continent of the other.
Just as Asia and Europe are 2 separate continents, and Europe is not a subcontinent of Asia, though they are well connected by Land mass.

bellastar is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 02:50 AM
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mikelg,
I thinking you're chasing after the wrong stick here... as bellastar says it is simply a way of defining the reality; there are those american states which are united together and then there are a whole lot more that aren't... if Canada wanted to join the United States then its citizens would then become Americans (whilst remaining Quebecois or Newfoundlers or whatever) similarly Argentinians could become Americans if they ceded to the union... until such time they'll happily remain Argentinians etc etc etc.

And if a United States of Europe ever comes to pass and we're all "Europeans" those outside the union will remain "Swiss" or "Russian" and can still rightly describe them self as European... the rest of us will be Europeans who can still describe themselves as Spanish or Scottish as a Texan or Virginian might today.

You seem to be getting hung-up on semantics!

Dr D.
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Nov 29th, 2004, 03:17 AM
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It always interests me that many Americans don't know that Hitler actually declared war against the United States on December 11, 1941.
You sometimes get the impression that the US entered the War because of an altruistic urge to save Europe.
They also seem to forget that it was a World War. For example, if you just saw US news media, it would be quite easy to miss the fact that Canadians took part in the D-Day landings.
 

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