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Knowing Samuel Butler's work quite well, I do not believe I ever came across the word "Usonia". Could the editor of this piece tell exactly where he found it?

I'm not the editor, but...[edit]

In 1927 Wright wrote: But why this term “America” has become representative as the name of these United States at home and abroad is past recall. Samuel Butler fitted us with a good name. He called us Usonians, and our Nation of combined States, Usonia.

(Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture: Selected Writings 1894-1940, p. 100.)

In a footnote in The Living City (1958), he attributes it to “Samuel Butler’s suggestion of a name for our nameless nation (see his Erewhon).”

However, I skimmed Erewhon (1872) and didn't find it. Meryle Secreste, in his 1992 biography Frank Lloyd Wright, writes that “no one has been able to find the reference.” He quotes John Sergeant as writing: “It has been suggested that Wright picked up the name on his first European trip in 1910 when there was talk of calling the U.S.A. ‘U-S-O-N-A,’ to avoid confusion with the new Union of South Africa.”

USONA, of course, stood for United States of North America.

So, wouldn't it make sense to say some of this in the article - that Wright attributed the coinage to Samuel Butler, but it is uncertain where it actually came from? --Jim Henry 23:50, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The pronunciation of Usonian, by the way, is [you SOH nee an]. Or at least that's the way I've heard it pronounced on PBS television. Wright's usage makes this by far the commonest adjectival form of USA. --kwami 08:37, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The Esperanto version of Wikipedia says that "the Esperanto word Usono comes from Usonia, a word occasionally proposed to avoid the use of "America"." Of course, this motivation disagrees with the accounts by several of Wright's biographers. Wolfram Diestel at the University of Leipzig, who has put together the largest online Esperanto dictionary, denies that Usono derives from the Esperanto supposed acronym USN (pronounced u-so-no), as claimed by large print dictionaries, but rather was borrowed from Usonia, which he says was invented by Wright. I don't know when the word was first used in Esperanto, but it's included in lists of words used by Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, who died in April 1917. This is ten years earlier than the earliest use by Wright that I have found. kwami 08:50, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)

If it were an acronym in Esperanto, one would expect Uŝono instead of Usono. The dictionary entry kwami cited is at [1]. The Zamenhof citation is from his speech at the 1910 World Esperanto Convention in Washington, D.C. The Reta Vortaro says (of the American English term "Usonia") that it was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright "around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries". --Jim Henry 18:53, 25 Aug 2004 (UTC)
If no one knows for sure exactly when Wright started to use the word "Usonia", or whether he really got it from Butler or someone else, we should say that in the article body. Maybe we should cite the Reta Vortaro for the attribution of "Usono" to "Usonia" but express reservations given the later date of the first known use by Wright than the first known use in Esperanto. --Jim Henry 23:50, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Okay, guess now I am the editor! Added the basics of this discussion, plus touched up the existing text a bit. kwami 04:36, 2005 May 12 (UTC)

Most common adjectival form of "United States"?[edit]

If you ask me, the most common form is "U.S.", used adjectivally. It's what I personallly use on Wikipedia, e.g., "Benjamin Harrison Eaton was a U.S. politician..." -- Decumanus 06:29, 2005 May 22 (UTC)

We're not counting nouns used attributively as being adjectives. You can't say "I'm a U.S." to mean "I'm an American", for example, even if "I'm a U.S. citizen" is more or less equivalent to "I'm an American citizen"; nor could you say "He speaks U.S." What I think people are looking for is a syntactic adjective that's unambiguous in meaning. It can be awkward to always have to put another noun after "U.S." to make it behave like an adjective. But of course you're right: "He speaks U.S. English" is more specific than "He speaks American English". kwami 06:58, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
Well I think you prove my point. In the sentence, "I am an American," the word American is a noun, not an adjective. -- Decumanus 07:01, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
Nobody uses Usonian in common usage, therefore an attempt at claiming it is the most common form is incorrect. The most common adjectival form is American, as in "Benjamin Harrison Eaton is an American politician". RickK 07:08, May 22, 2005 (UTC)
Point 1: "American" can both a noun and an adjective (can be used with "more than" etc.), unlike "U.S." I guess a follow-up question would be, what unambiguous single word can you use to mean an inhabitant of the U.S.?
Point 2: We're talking about words that unambiguously mean U.S. American. None of them are in common use; that's the whole point! ("Most common" doesn't mean common, just less uncommon than the alternatives.) But of the dozens of proposals, Usonian is the only one I've ever heard spoken. If you've ever heard any others, I'd be curious as to what they are. kwami 07:16, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
Well certainly "American" is the most common word (at least in the U.S.) to describe a citizen of the United States. I see nothing wrong with it as word, myself. I know others have issues. But I still disagree with your grammatical analysis: U.S. can be used as both a noun and an adjective. American can be used as both as well. I think you're trying to say that "American" is primarily an adjective, whereas U.S. is primarily a noun (defined by order of preference in a dictionary)? -- Decumanus 07:24, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
Most any English noun can be used attributively. I could speak of "the Decumanus family" or "the Decumanus point of view", but wouldn't argue that "Decumanus" is an adjective because of that. An adjective is somewhat different. I can say, "I'm more American than you", but not "I'm more U.S. than you", for example.
Why can't you? -- Decumanus 08:01, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
Well, you can say the words, but people wouldn't know what you mean.
I think many people would in fact, if you said it the right way. -- Decumanus 08:18, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
If you don't buy that, how about this: "American" is a noun derived from "America" meaning 'an inhabitant of', as well as being an adjective. But "U.S." has no such meaning. Therefore you can't just substitute one for the other.
You're saying there's no thing thing as a "United Stateser", a noun derived from "United States." Correct, but I don't see your point. We're talking about adjectives here, I thought? -- Decumanus 08:01, 2005 May 22 (UTC)
I'm trying to approach is from two different angles. Take your pick. The point is that we're missing a very basic word, that some people don't care for the work-around that we use, and have proposed various words that would be parallel to "Canadian", "Cuban", "Peruvian", etc. (These are all both adjectives and nouns naming people.) Of those proposals, "Usonian" is the only one I've ever actually heard. As far as I can tell, it's the most common (or at least, the least rare). I'm not arguing that it should be used, but thought that in an article named "Usonia" this deserved at least a mention. kwami
Besides the cultural issues, there's a practical issue with using "American". That's why you hear "U.S. citizen" in legal usage: an Argentine is technically an American citizen, so you need something more specific. But you can't simply replace "American" with "U.S." across the board, because they aren't the same part of speech (or, if you prefer, because one can be used to refer to a person, and the other can't), so we're left with this awkward partial fix, sometimes using "American", sometimes "U.S.", but lacking a word that will do for both. Almost every other country has a word for its citizens. kwami 07:54, 2005 May 22 (UTC)

Usonian at Wiktionary has something to add. 7&6=thirteen () 17:01, 4 December 2012 (UTC)


Hi Revolución, I see you're changing the pronunciation from you-soh'-nee-a [ju.'] to oo-soh'-nee-a [u.']. What's your source on this? It's the former on PBS television in the US, and that's also what you'd expect from the spelling, as in union, usury, etc. kwami 00:53, 2005 Jun 11 (UTC)

I concur, but mostly I have heard it used by architects in reference to Wright's work. -- Decumanus 00:55, 2005 Jun 11 (UTC)
  • Well, I have no source, sorry about the misunderstanding. But don't you think "oo-SOH-nee-a" sounds better? I know, yeah it's pretty hard to come up with an example of a word that uses that pronunciation, how about Uzbekistan? ;-) Revolución 02:35, 11 Jun 2005 (UTC)
When I was a kid, and learned that "lomster" was really lobster, I thought it sounded just horrible with a b. I have a sneaking suspicion that all the architects out there who are used to the you pronunciation will think the same about pronouncing it oo! kwami 03:47, 2005 Jun 11 (UTC)

I added a few more "usonian" homes to the pageLesotho (talk) 16:26, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Order of noted Usonian houses[edit]

I appreciate the value of ordering the list of noted Usonian Houses. However, I don't think the current alphabetization is the most useful. Perhaps alphabetizing by surname (as in most reference works on Wright), or in chronological order (as in most of the others). For example, I think that Dorothy H. Turkel should be alphabetized under "T" rather than under "D". Other thoughts on the most useful order? --Frankie Rae (talk) 18:41, 1 July 2010 (UTC)