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America vs. United States

In Spanish class our instructor told us that we should refer to ourselves as estadounidense (united states-ian) rather than americano (American) when talking to foreigners, particularly those from the American continental land mass(es).  Apparently, in Mexico, americano is derragatory, sort of making fun of US citizens for claiming the Americas... It's hard to explain, but conceptually it really makes sense.  Apparently, there is a political song from Mexico called 'yo soy americano tambien' (I'm an American, too) or something like that.  Jeez, just when I feel 'culturally aware' something wakes me up and reminds me of how much I have to work on.  (Like not ending sentences with 'on'.)

From now on, I'm a United States citizen.  I think American should be a term of solidarity among the US, Mexico, Canada, etc.

What does everyone else think?

wow, how nice of you to tell us who's correct, what would we do without you?

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So your perspective is that people from the US can call themselves Americans without it having a political subtext of superiority?  If that's correct, I totally didn't get that from your first post.

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shelloid
"When I have stated that they should say that they are from the US rather than America they thought I was being awkward."
Do you think it is appropriate to tell citizens of other nations HOW they are to refer to the IDENTITY of their own country?

I would, but don't think I ever have.  I don't think that's a capital-letter word big deal.  Besides, they probably wouldn't pay attention to me, anyway.  I liken it to my telling someone that they shouldn't eat animal products (I also don't think I've ever said that).  It'd be a little awkward and they'd likely ignore me, but it's a small thing.  I like input from people "out of the system" because they see the situation sometimes with a different persepctive.

Question for you, Mr. C.  I didn't understand you comment to yabbitgirl.  You ended it with "What is your country of origin or citizenship?"  I don't understand that in context to your other comments about her post.

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So your perspective is that people from the US can call themselves Americans without it having a political subtext of superiority?  If that's correct, I totally didn't get that from your first post.

Referring to myself as an American or to my country as America IS NOT A POLITICAL STATEMENT of any kind and certainly doesn't have any political subtext. I don't understand how anything I said in my first post could be construed differently.
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America
5 dictionary results for: America
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This
A·mer·i·ca      /əˈmɛrɪkə/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun
1. United States.
2. North America.
3. South America.
4. Also called the Americas. North and South America, considered together.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/America

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Main Entry:
  Amer·i·ca
Pronunciation:
    \ə-ˈmer-ə-kə, -ˈme-rə-\
Function:
    geographical name

1 either continent (North America or S.South America) of the western hemisphere
2 or the Amer·i·cas Listen to the pronunciation of the Americas ... the lands of the western      hemisphere including North, Central, & S.South America & the West Indies
3 united states of america

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/America
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This is a matter of the meaning of words - plain and simple.

Mr.C is cranky tonight and has to go to bed, but will try to address the rest of my fan mail later. Keep those cards and letters coming folks. ^-^

lubimiller - glad to be of assistance. 8)

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And i'm proud to be United Statesian where at least i know i'm free!

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Question for you, Mr. C.  I didn't understand you comment to yabbitgirl.  You ended it with "What is your country of origin or citizenship?"  I don't understand that in context to your other comments about her post.

HH- was about to log off and saw your comment I have quoted. Felt I better respond quickly. lest there be any confusion that I am somehow attacking Yabbitgirl (when I was first in the VegWeb neighborhood and having problems using the site and was unable to communicate with the Administrator, she and CW were the only two to reply to my shout for HELP  :)).

From her posts that I have read since I have been here, she has lived in lots of places, including the U.S. and I recall that she referred to it as AMERICA. ::) Nothing sinister or mean-spirited, I can assure you. I am now trying to find that post before I post this. (Nobody has ever accused me of being a linguist! Just because yabbitgirl lived in the U.S. doesn't mean it is her country of origin or citizenship, though I suspect that might be the case.)

Mr.C enjoys the debate board and nothing said is an attack on any that I have mentioned in my responses.

Posted by: yabbitgirl    Posted on: August 29, 2008, 08:43:31 AM

Beet sugar is slightly duller in colour than cane, but it only really shows in comparison. Cane sugar is whiter and shinier under artificial light. Also, cane sugar is more concentratedly sweet than beet, so you get more "bang for your buck" in that sense. Beet sugar is also slightly coarser, bigger crystals I guess.

But sucrose is sucrose, after all. "A sugar by any other name would be as full of empty calories." To corn a phrase.

And yes, I used to be American, a loooong time ago. I guess I'm just part of the return wave.

Thus, I wanted to see how she replied - as an American (as she said in the above-quoted post of hers), or using other language. Did you think I had some hostile or offensive intent? Is that why you asked? :-[

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wow, how nice of you to tell us who's correct, what would we do without you?

Word.

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Mr. C, I think you are confusing courtesy (respecting the views of other countries) with political correctness. 

PS - When you are looking up definitions of America, try a non-US based dictionary.

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Mr. C, I think you are confusing courtesy (respecting the views of other countries) with political correctness. 

PS - When you are looking up definitions of America, try a non-US based dictionary.

exactly!
and these are feelings and opinions, which are neither right or wrong.
unfortunately, you are living up to another perception, opinion about americans.......that we think we know everything

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Did you think I had some hostile or offensive intent? Is that why you asked?

Yep.  Some of your posts come across with a hostile edge.  I learned in your post about third parties that your intent is to stimulate debate and you don't mean them to be read as they might be by some people, including people on this thread from reading the responses.  What we do here is state our opinion and the debate comes naturally.  Next time just say that you think it's okay to say that you're American, if that's your position.  The debate will come.

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caroleena
" This is one of the things that I took from working on an international study. There are two continents' worth of "America," we just happened to be in the "United States." "

And we just happen to live in the only country in the Americas which has America in the name of the country. Exactly what kind of "international study" was this? I am certainly not an expert in geography, so I  must ask you, where is Central America - is it in North America or South America?

Wow, Mr. C.; congratulations. I was all ready to delete my account (nothing anyone did wrong; I just need to manage my time better!) and I was so offended by the tone in your email that I just HAD to respond.

For your information, I was involved in extensive analysis of data from a 29-country study of adolescent civic and political engagement, which captured (among other things) adolescents' attitudes toward local, national, and international political engagement. (I've discussed this in other threads too.) Needless to say, national identity was a very prominent theme in my team's analysis.  Also, "political correctness" (your terms; I would say, "precision of language") was extremely important in terms of not offending representatives of countries represented in the study. Trust me when I say that I had a LOT of experience correcting myself when preparing journal articles (yes, I'm published in my capacity as a cross-national researcher) to say "adolescents from the United States," so that the manuscript reflected naming conventions of the larger international organization.

Do I think that my answer is THE answer? Of course not. But yes, I do feel that my research experience qualifies me to weigh in on this topic. Your use of quotes around "international study" is not appreciated.

Second, "Central America" is generally considered to be the southernmost region of the North American content. I'm having trouble in terms of reading into whether this was meant to be sarcastic, particularly in the context of the rest of your message. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume this was an honest question.

Third, I personally don't think that it comes out of any superiority, or out of a blatant lack of courtesy. I just think that the average person hasn't given it much thought. That doesn't serve to negate the reservations that Americans who live elsewhere on the continent have, though.

It does raise an interesting question in terms of what's the alternative. The closest parallel I could think of was the Central African Republic. A quick skim of a Wikipedia article (the authorative source for everything, right?  ::)) alternatively describes the country's citizens as "peoples of the CAR" or as "Central Africans." Hmm... not much help either way (other than to note that in no case where they referred to as "Africans..." there was always at least some sort of qualifier). Perhaps another parallel (but not quite) would be if EU members suddenly decided to refer to themselves as Europeans to indicate membership in the union? Where would that leave non-EU European countries?

If anything, given the original meaning of "Untied States" it would seem that state membership does indeed trump national membership. That might not be the most practical option, though, especially for those of us who have jumped from state to state.

Work with me, here  ;D

I'm probably overreacting. So thanks for bearing with me.

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I totally, completely agree, mdv. Actually, in 8th grade, I remember my history teacher had a question about which country came from, and anyone who wrote "America" instead of the "United States of America" got it wrong! ;D (I think I actually got it wrong & was kind of mad at the time, but I think it's awesome now.)

Also, my college Spanish teacher is from Mexico City, and would "playfully" poke fun at U.S. citizens for claiming "America" and "Americans" as our own word, excluding all others; it isn't made just for us, and I understand why it's offensive to the MANY, MANY other people who live in Central America, South America, Canada, etc.

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caroleena
" This is one of the things that I took from working on an international study. There are two continents' worth of "America," we just happened to be in the "United States." "

And we just happen to live in the only country in the Americas which has America in the name of the country. Exactly what kind of "international study" was this? I am certainly not an expert in geography, so I  must ask you, where is Central America - is it in North America or South America?

Wow, Mr. C.; congratulations. I was all ready to delete my account (nothing anyone did wrong; I just need to manage my time better!) and I was so offended by the tone in your email that I just HAD to respond.

For your information, I was involved in extensive analysis of data from a 29-country study of adolescent civic and political engagement, which captured (among other things) adolescents' attitudes toward local, national, and international political engagement. (I've discussed this in other threads too.) Needless to say, national identity was a very prominent theme in my team's analysis. ...

I'm probably overreacting. So thanks for bearing with me.

caroleena -

No, you are not overreacting. I always have encouraged folks to speak up, especially those who have been hesitant to do so. Glad that my comments got you to stick with the site - this web site is a valuable resource for veg*ns of all stripes. Those able to support it financially should do so.

I was NOT belittling your international study! Having no knowledge of what it was all about, I was not in a position to comment on it one way or another. In the context of your study, I am in complete agreement with how you handled this issue. In the context of a relative signing the visitor guest log at a concentration camp museum in Germany and listing "America" for country, I gave my relative some constructive criticism in this regard. Yet in the context of somebody in Europe asking me where I am from, I do not think it is inappropriate to say America. As with most things in life, nothing is absolute or 100% black or 100% white - everything is somewhere on the scale between the two absolutes.

I would have guessed, as you informed me, that Central America is really the southern part of North America. Now I know... But in the context of the whole issue, wonder how the folks in Central America feel about being told they are in North America.

I would like to set the record straight in one minor regard: you referred the need to respond to my email, think you meant to say "post." Given the heat that I have drawn in this thread, don't want anybody to get the idea that I sent you an email that got you fired up! I have ample opportunity to get in trouble on the message boards!

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For all that have posted in this thread, Mr.C  would like to clear the air concerning the turmoil his participation has apparently caused. First, I want to apologize to any/all that have been offended or had their feelings hurt by my comments. Perhaps my “debating technique” is a little too “industrial strength”  for the VW debate board. I am somewhat taken aback that some reacted as if I have engaged in a personal attack on them. This troubles me. I guess we have different concepts of what a debate entails.

From my perspective, I have not attacked any other participant, but I have attacked their comments in support of their position on the issue. There is a difference. This is what a free spirited debate is about. Nonetheless, I am not a troll (never knew what this was until I read about it on VegWeb) and am not  trying to stir up controversy for the sake of controversy.

No, I don’t think “I am right” and “You are wrong.” It should be possible to have a spirited debate which is a win for all - everybody has their say and walks away with their heads high.

lubimiller, you said “these are feelings and opinions, which are neither right or wrong.” I could not agree more. But am at a loss as to what I posted that you interpreted to mean I know everything.

I can sincerely tell you all that  I hold no malice, hostility, or ill will towards anyone in this community. Accordingly, I am suspending my active participation in the VegWeb debate board, as I think this is best. (When I start feeling stressed over my participation in an online community, there is an easy way to eliminate this kind of stress.)  I am coming to the conclusion that “VegWeb is no place for old men,.” at least when it comes to the debate board.

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When I've travelled, I've learned that if you say you are from the "States" typically the person then says, "well yes I know -but what part?" and even though I'm from a tiny little peanut shaped state called New Jersey, everyone seems completely familiar with it. So now if I'm traveling & someone asks where I'm from I just say New Jersey. I'm not sure if I have Bruce Springsteen or the Sopranos to thank for that.

Mr. C, I hope you are not really leaving. I like to see people with different opinions on here!!!

Here is my responce to you before I saw that you were leaving: Mr. C: have you travelled much? particularly to Central America or South America? I think that is what the original poster was referring to, simply that if you are a U.S. citizen travelling abroad, particularly to a South or Central American country and someone asks you where you are from and you reply with "America" it can be confusing to the person you are speaking with. Because you are still in "America". And people in other countries don't refer to the United States of America as America. They typical refer to it as the United States, or just "the States".

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Mr.C PART 2

After giving the issues I referred to in my above post much contemplation and analysis, I think I understand how this happened (me thinking I am debating while others thinking I am engaging in personal attacks). Sometimes I think way too much about stuff, but this was really bothering me.

While VW’s “News and Debate Board” references DEBATE, it is really more of an “opinion board” and not a “debate board”. Only a small percentage of the posts entail what I consider a “debate”. I should have realized this earlier.  Someone starts a topic, then one person gives their opinion, then the next, then the next, and so on. If dissenting views are posted, there is rarely a direct reference to the opposing views and rarely a direct attack on those views. If folks on one side are merely posting their opinions and someone with a contrary view is debating their opinions (which entails advocacy, attacking the other position), we have what transpired in this thread. Most were posting their opinions, while I was debating those opinions. I can see how my posts could be perceived as rude or personal attacks (even though they were not).

In my personal and professional life, I strive to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I try to be a positive presence in whatever environment I am in. I really do have a reputation for having good people skills (outside the realm of VegWeb)!

I plan on participating on the “news and debate board” again starting on Friday, September 26. Hopefully, those who have posted in this thread will not object. I am confident you will like the tone of future posts more than you have my past posts.

I thank the VWer that provided me some relevant information on the history of the board before I was here. Thanks to Caroleena for hitting a home run in her response - impressive. Lisaanddini, thanks for you kind encouragement and the last paragraph of your post is 100% right on.

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Welcome back.  :)

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While VW’s “News and Debate Board” references DEBATE, it is really more of an “opinion board” and not a “debate board”. Only a small percentage of the posts entail what I consider a “debate”. I should have realized this earlier.  Someone starts a topic, then one person gives their opinion, then the next, then the next, and so on. If dissenting views are posted, there is rarely a direct reference to the opposing views and rarely a direct attack on those views.

I disagree whole-heartedly.  This IS a debate board.  Trust me.  I'll debate.  We ALL love to debate.  Examples: Obama thread, NOT VEGAN thread, any honey thread that ever existed, the "compromising for a partner" thread.....those all have some GREAT debate.  You might want to go read them sometime.  In fact, the degree to which we love to debate has turned several people away from this section of the board.  It is not for the faint of heart.  I think your perception of the debate board stems from the fact that, until you posted, we all happened to agree or be largely neutral on this particular topic.  But it happens quite often that some posts, and the next person quotes them and says "I disagree with this point."  See humboldt_honey's September 16th post on this very thread as a quick example.

What we don't love is when people bust out with "Well, Person 1 is right, Person 2 is wrong, Person 3 is right," etc., like they're the teacher with the red pen.  I think I can safely speak for most people here that it's great to read dissenting opinions.  It is NOT great to personally belittle others, deliver backhanded insults, and speak as if the ultimate authority.  For example, "What kind of international study was this?" is a personal attack and is plain rude.  You would not hear that in a real life debate.  Can you imagine?  I'd totally shut out and/or punch someone who took that tone with me.  A better way to phrase your question might have been, "I would like to hear more details about the work you did that informed that opinion," or something similar.  Or just, "I'm curious, what kind of international study did you do?"  See the difference?

And with that, I debate your stance on VW debate. 

Yup, I LOVE to debate.

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Yup, I LOVE to debate.

True dat.  Our kmk's a debater.  I've actually taken a lot of debate style tips from her and used them on the job (where people debate with me over everything).

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yeah, a debate is when you say I don't agree and here's why; not you're all wrong......

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