Talk:American (word)

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Page needs some cleanup: Spanish terms[edit]

While pointing out the origin of the 'controversy' in misapplication of foreign (particularly Spanish) usage to English, the article still has several flaws aside from the general need for cleanup and formatting. First (and less importantly) yanqui and gringo are not simple synonyms for norteamericanos (and, I'm just curious here, do Canadian Hispanophones get in such a huff over that usage?) but are pejoratives, albeit sometimes used lovingly or jokingly. -LlywelynII (talk) 23:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Is there a consistent or absolute way of saying something is pejorative or not? To most latins I know the terms yanque and gringo are not at all pejoratives.LtDoc (talk) 14:36, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
My understanding is that the term can be used in an affectionate way. Even when used negatively, it doesn't rise to the level of a curse. There are parts of the world where the term American is viewed very negatively due to political or other conflict.--MoebiusFlip (talk) 20:24, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
See Real Academia's gringo definition to realize that usage varies from country to country. HaŋaRoa (talk) 20:15, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Page needs some cleanup: 'American POV' claims[edit]

Second and more importantly, the article makes numerous specific claims that "American" is only or primarily used as a synonym for "citizen of the United States of America" by speakers of American English. E.g.,

English, French, German, Italian, Japanese,[36] Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian[37] speakers may use the term American to refer to either inhabitants of the Americas or to US nationals. They generally have other terms specific to US nationals, such as German US-Amerikaner, French étatsunien, Japanese 米国人 beikokujin, and Italian statunitense, but these may be less common than the term American...

is simply untrue: "American" is by far the most common American demonym in all dialects of English and specification of any other use must be made in all of them. A Canadian, Briton, or Aussie speaking about "American English" will never be talking about or even imagine he could be confused with talking about "Canadian English" or "Latin American English." Similarly, while there are various synonyms for Americans (e.g., British Yank, Aussie Seppo) that could be included into the article, they are typically informal and no native English speaker refers to Latin Americans as (unqualified) Americans precisely because the word refers to the United States. Article claims or assumptions that this originates from or is exclusive to American dialect are unsupportable, misleading, and POV. -LlywelynII (talk) 23:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

I've added [citation needed] tags for the French and German US-specific terms described in the article. All someone has to do is link to a dictionary, at least in the French case. That being the case, it still leaves unanswered the question of the reasons for using different terms in different contexts. For French, the term "étasunien" appears to be a very recent neologism--it does not appear in the most recent edition of the dictionary of the Académie Française. Why was it coined? For simple disambiguation? To make a political point?
You seem to be pretty confident about all of the other languages, are we to presume you are fluent inEnglish, French, German, Italian, Japanese,[36] Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese, and Russian? As a portuguese speaker, I assure you that in Portuguese, while some people use the word american to describe a US Citzen, that is an incorrect use. And people who use american meaning US citizen know the term to be innapropiate (the term north-american, commonly used as well, is equally imprecise).
A very frequent conception by people with your point of view is that the word american only describes USA, or USA-related things. The point is that for most other people, mainly Latin Americans, I'd wager, american describes things related to all of the americas (note Im using the US-centric definition of Americas) as opposed to US related. So, when saying that a Canadian is American is the equivalent of saying that a Frenchman is European, because American means from America. (talk) 02:12, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
I concur with the above statement. I don't go with popular conceptions, I go with the correct by definition ones. First, American is not a denomym for the US Citizens, it is the demonym for all the inhabitants of "The Americas" this is supported by the fact that in all legal & federal matters in the US you are a US Citizen, not an American. Second, "The Americas" is a wrong term. It is logical that America consist of the landmass from Canada to Southern Chile. Why? Well, if America was the United States, it logically means that Texas is in South America.Douken (talk) 20:46, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
The whole argument on this page seems derived from Anti-Americanism or personal bias, and not from a pertinent and real linguistic dilemma. Why is there no argument regarding the Australia page directing to the Commonwealth of Australia and not the continent? Equally there is no debate regarding the demonym Australian excluding Australian-continent Indonesian and Papua New Guinean citizens. Since when is citizenship defined by membership of a super-continent the Americas. I've noticed a lot of the anger is misplaced understanding of the prevalent continent-naming-system in English versus other languages. In English the Americas (landmass) is defined as two continents, North and South America; whereas in other languages it is regarded as one continent. In the former membership is commonly described as inclusion as North American or South American, where I have noticed, at least in Spanish, the demonym is to the singular landmass/continent descriptor. It is an often ignored fact that no other country except than the United States of America, in English and to my knowledge any other language, uses the demonyn American for its citizens. The disambiguation comes in when a person is regarded in continental/regional membership/geographical membership, and not with national/stately membership. So the discussion to call US citizens American is certainly not a 'politically' incorrect argument. Lastly, American is the demonym for a US citizen, and to argue against its use as such, in English, is not factual. See:

or --Extrabatteries (talk) 23:38, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

This is flat wrong. There is no continent called "America." There are two continents, one called North America and one called South America. Usage of the term American to refer to U.S. nationals is not inconsistent with the names of the continents. The North American Free Trade Agreement uses the name of the continent, while the Americans with Disabilities Act refers to protection of U.S. residents with disabilities. If it were the North American Disabilities Act, one would assume it was an international treaty covering North America. Spanish or other usage is really irrelevant to this article, since it is an English-language word. If Spanish speakers want to use another term in their language, Americans will not insist that they change their language to match English usage. But on the other side, some people who speak Spanish want to assail and convert the English-language term. It would seem that the imposition and conflict is coming from the Spanish-speaking side. As a general rule, people should respect other languages and the terms they choose. Given the fact that George Washington, the first American president, used the terms America and American to describe his nation and people, others should really lay off. When Washington did that, the people in all of these Spanish-speaking Latin American countries were Spanish in the sense of being Spanish colonies. Why would they have any claim to the term American when they were in fact Spanish? The fact is, the change and objection came about after they were liberated from Spain. Americans are not going to stop using this term when they speak English. If they visit a Spanish-speaking country and speak Spanish there, it would be polite and correct Spanish to use whatever term is standard in Spanish. Likewise, Spanish-speaking people should respect the American English term when they visit the United States. If Americans visit any other country and are criticized about how they speak English, they should explain that American English uses this term, and that if they want to know how to speak American English, they should take note.--MoebiusFlip (talk) 20:46, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
People in Spanish colonies were "Spanish Americans" by then. Why? Because the name of the whole continent precedes the differentiation into two continents in current prevalent US usage. Take a look at some XVIIth c. English maps. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 01:01, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how that enters into argument. The ambiguity is over whether a speaker is referring to themselves in political or geographical attribute. "I am in American" meaning either: I am a citizen of a specific country the United States of America, or I am a person from the combined continental landmass of North and South America. At least in English, the latter is a highly unlikely use of self-designation akin to someone saying "I am a Eurasian." The ambiguity of political versus geographical is continuously being redefined on wikipedia in edit wars based on little more than regionalism. Further, the naming of peoples from a pre-national colonial era does not prevent those terms indefinitely from evolving to take on new usage as is evident in the evolving usage and attribution of the word American.--Extrabatteries (talk) 01:43, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
The original sense survives today in some current expressions. For example, "Latin American". Are we referring to Latin "North" Americans or Latin "South" Americans. Well, to both of them. And the same can be said about the very name of the USA. They are the US of "America". Not the US of "North America". The tectonic-based continental division of the "two" continents is irrelevant for these uses. So the word "America" to refer to "both Americas" do make sense in English, although it may not be the prevalen usage. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 01:49, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I am not debating these validity of these historic notes as fact. However, they invoke a totally different word usage. There are subtle variations in their common usage using the same qualifier 'American' -- which are discernible to an English speaker, e.g. Spanish American, Latino American, Italian American (all with American used as a political designation)... vs Latin American, Hispanic American (both using American as a cultural designation).--Extrabatteries (talk) 02:17, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
It is not a cultural definition, but a geographical one that denotes the whole lands of the Western Hemisphere. Anyway, however it may be both series of expressions (plus some other, ambiguous ones, i.e. "Native American") do use the word "American" as a meaningful qualifying adjective. So, these (and other) multiple connotations have to be dealt with. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 20:14, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I am fully aware of the definitions of the word combination. Are you suggesting something be changed or added to the article? I am not understanding the purpose of your statements. I infer, maybe incorrectly, that you are stating that the use of American (as a political adjective) carries some ambiguity. American carries no ambiguity in the political sense, only in the confusion between its usage as a political vs geographical designator. The ambiguity is a failure or problem with whatever sentence or context in which it is used, and not something inherent to the word; not any more than any other multiple-definition words used in conjunction with another or set in ambiguous context. The ambiguity throughout this talk page is usually not based on ambiguity at all but on clear understanding of the political definition used, and a dislike of the American to ever be used as a political designator. Which is to say, its not in fact ambiguous, but instead controversial.--Extrabatteries (talk) 21:01, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Of course it is controversial, hence the debate. But you are wrong both in understanding that the different usages should not be dealt with here in Wikipedia, because they may be auto-evident, and in assuming that there are not political ambiguous usages for the term. I give you two examples for this: Organization of American States (OAS), Pan-American. Both political terms derive from the "America as a single entity that includes both 'North' and 'South' America" definition. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 21:06, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
When I say political terms, I mean American (singular word usage, as per this article title) in regards to the names of US citizens. The alternate word definitions and uses should be clearly articulated, I agree, I am not arguing the different usage should not be defined. Providing correct information avoids creating confusion, confusion which certainly leads and has led to more controversy. Presenting the origins of the term, origins of its use as a demonym for citizens of the United States, its historical context, and broader explanation of continent-naming systems differences (America as a continent in Spanish/America not as a continent in English), these pieces of information defuse the accusations of arrogance being seen on this talk page and its archives. The wikipedia pages regarding American, American (word), America, Names for US citizens, all have a 'teach the controversy' approach. I am not arguing that wikipedia should be in the business of solving a controversy, but it certainly is a disservices to fuel a controversy by not clearly outlining information which diffuses the better of it.--Extrabatteries (talk) 21:25, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
The debate does not merely refer to English vs. foreign-languages definition of a continent. As I explained before, America/American do make sense in English when it is used to denote "both Americas". Furthermore, this English usage is not restricted to non-political definitions, as the very name of Washinton D.C.-headquartered "Organization of American States" shows clearly enough. Thus the need to: 1) disambiguate the usages of the term "American"; 2) make explicit reference to the current controversy regarding its usage. It is a must for an encyclopedia to deal with this. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 21:33, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree, and I think this article does a good job at doing just this. The article shouldn't lean into favor or disfavor of the word appropriation, but only present cited facts. It is possible we are simply agreeing with each other in a very argumentative way. --Extrabatteries (talk) 21:43, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Fine enough, then :) Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 22:07, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Native English speakers use the term "American" almost exclusively to refer to a citizen of the United States, which they almost exclusively refer to as "America". This is not a Spanish or Portugese Wiki article. It is an English Language Wikipedia Article and the Native Speakers of English despite how Spanish speakers from Latin America may feel about this topic do not get to insert an Anti-American bias here by attempting to impose their linguistic standard on people who don't speak Spanish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:27, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

This. I think people appear to be forgetting this is the English wikipedia. It is very rare for 'American' or 'America' to be used in the English-speaking world as meaning anything non-specific to the United States. Non-English speakers don't get to redefine English words - that is a bizarre concept. A disambiguation page and all of this nonsense is extremely unnecessary. Further, in the English-speaking world, there is virtually no adoption of the Americas as one single continent in education - they are always referred to as two separate continents (since they were actually detached until just a few million years ago). This controversy is akin to someone from Finland sparking controversy by calling themselves an Afroeurasian - to an English speaker. (talk) 00:58, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Regarding the Political and cultural views section[edit]

First, I have no idea why this should fall under the United Nations usage category. Second, two of the sub-sections "Spain and Hispanic America" and "Portugal and Brazil" cite nothing relevant to the political and cultural views of the English word "American" which is what this page is about. These two sections should be moved into a new category regarding American (word) in foreign languages. Otherwise its acts on the assumption that American = Americano which these two sections refute as a false friend.--Extrabatteries (talk) 21:12, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

I think this is quite well answered in the last thread. As for the foreign-language usages, they fit perfectly as a subsection to this same "word-defining" article. Methinks. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 21:20, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes, and in word defining wouldn't these two sections fit better in the "US national in other languages" section?--Extrabatteries (talk) 21:30, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
No, because the usages of the word exceed the "US national" definition. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 21:34, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Certainly you can read the section Spain and Hispanic America and agree that it is only talking about the Spanish usage and not English usage, and that the Portugal and Brazil section talks about Portuguese usage of americano. Both of these sections are talking about the US national definition and not a more broad definition. How can it be argued that either of these sections fit into the Usage at the United Nations section better than the US national in other languages section? --Extrabatteries (talk) 21:47, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
This article probably needs a cleanup for the sake of the coherence of its organization. You are probably right. Salut, --IANVS (talk | cont) 22:09, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Richard Amerike[edit]

Why was the reference to Richard Amerike removed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jcchat66 (talkcontribs) 04:58, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Probably because America comes from the Italian Amerigo Vespucci, not Amerike. (talk) 19:05, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Phrasing of the page opening[edit]

Is this really neutral phrasing?

"In modern English, Americans generally refers to residents of the United States; among native English speakers this usage is almost universal, with any other use of the term requiring specification.[1] However, this default use has been the source of complaint by some residents of Latin America who feel that using the term solely for the United States misappropriates it.[2][3] They argue instead that "American" should be broadened to include people from anywhere in North or South America, not just the United States; these critics admit their proposed usage is uncommon."

This makes it seems like the only opponents to the term are "some residents of Latin America". People from other parts of the world can (and do) debate and disagree about the usage of the word "American", shouldn't this be acknowledged too? And what is the source for the statement that "these critics admit their proposed usage is uncommon"? Taking a look at the source number [1], it only seems to discuss what people from the U.S. call themselves, not "native English speakers". Indeed, the fact that there is a large debate about the meaning of "America/American" indicates otherwise to me. (talk) 00:41, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

the statement probably exaggerates the complaints " by some residents of Latin America" who are not named. Who are these people and what do they know about English usage? And who are the unnammed and uncited people elsewhere who agree with them. Rjensen (talk) 02:44, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

In addition, isn't this extremely outdated? The sources it lists stem from 1947 [2] and 1983 [3]. Is it even accurate to leave this in there when the previous sentence is talking about 'In modern English'.

When it comes to language, "modern" includes the last century & longer. For example, in my case I learned English in the 1940s :) Rjensen (talk) 22:56, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

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