It’s time to abolish the use of “American” when we mean “United Statesian.” – Hidden Power of Words Series, #26

I’m always kind of frustrated when I hear people refer to the United States as “America” or to its residents as “Americans.” Since 2009, I have been saying that people in the U.S. are best thought of as United Statesians. 

As I see it, “America” most accurately refers to over sixteen million square miles in North and South America and “American(s)” to the approximately one billion (that’s 1,000,000,000) peoples who call these lands home.

By not using “American”/ “America” we (un)consciously remember all of the other peoples and nations who surround the United States.

Given the United States’s long, unwelcome assertion of imperialism around the world generally and in this hemisphere specifically, this small change in diction is a start that empowers everyone to have a broader and more complete perspective.

We should look for as many opportunities as possible to recognize other countries and to examine how the United States interacts with them. Additionally, in our speaking and writing, we should be careful to not think of the United States as the “default.”

Words always matter. Thinking about the specific words we use and what they truly mean is always vital, as this series has hopefuly articualted again and again, 26 times now!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda 

See also: 

 

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Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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8 replies

  1. Buckminster Fuller thought we aught to refer to ourselves as Usonians.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The U.S. government promotes “America” to empower Crony capitalist business interests in this quadrant of the globe. Highly unfavorable domestic taxation and treaty policies devour the average libertarian United Statesian. The nomenclature, “America” tickles our collective ears to mean this huge land mass which we in the 50 States are somehow concerned? This is stimulated to the delight of the above mentioned symbiotic interests.

    Thank you for the perspective. I will be more watchful how are policy makers and elites use this/these terms.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m with the geographic [disciplinarian] concerns with the term “America,” especially authors’ writing who refer all North America as America. Thank you for a larger perception.

    But how about those on other continents, and how do those demonyms such as Brits, Indians, or Iranians? They see “America” solely as USA? I agree that USA certainly rhetorically uses America as a Weaver god-term (literally, Weaver), and supports the imperialism/colonization across the globe. But an Iranian hears “America,” she certainly is not considering Mexico, and certainly is not considering El Salvador. My “international students” use the narrative “We came to America because X.” How can we reframe the god-term while so many global speakers see only as the USA map?

    A query; not an interrogation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know. Very interesting. One of my students is from Venezuela. She said in schools they don’t teach that there is a North American continent and a South American continent like here but just an continent one. At least there (and in Mexico), they don’t use “America” to mean “United States.”

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  4. Has this particular argument originated with you, Andrew, or did it start elsewhere?

    I think there some shortcomings that need to be addressed. For example, the country of Mexico is technically called the “United Mexican States.” Is there any self-identified “Mexican” who desires to instead be called an “American” or a “United Statesian” since they have equally valid claims to those terms? I’ve no doubt their might be a few, but on the whole I question whether a change in terms is what most self-identified enthnic groups in North and South America want. Moreover, I imagine that Mexicans identify as such because they are OF Mexico – as citizens of United States in that country. If the U.S.A. had a different name–the “United States of Washington–we might have an viable justification to label ourselves “Washingtonians” instead of “Americans” because we would be OF Washington. But we are OF America, and so therefore we identify as Americans.

    That’s at least how I see it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Nick,
      I think it’s been around for a while but I thought of it independently back in 2009. The book above says that people outside of the United States in the Americas are frequently baffled by how people in the United States have hijacked the terms “American”/”Americas”/etc. I have also heard from several students over the past few years–students born in other American countries–that they learned to use “American”/Americas” in the broader way and have been surprised when they come here and it’s used in such a different way. I think you’d love the book mentioned above!
      Talk to you more soon! AJP

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You know, I, too thought about this many years years ago. But what is odd, the Canadians also call US residents “American.” In fact, I heard someone on the bus in Montreal (back in the 1980s) describe a style of driving (in French), an American “stop,” referring to how New Yorkers (and in some other states, like I see it in Texas now) will coast through a stop sign, as if looking for a cop before they decide to step on the brake. For all their famous ability to analyze and discuss a topic at length in public forums, you’d think that NOT calling Canadians Americans would have been one such a topic discussed to death up there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stop saying Americas, it s ridiculous, the Europes, the Asias, it s like the continent doesnt have a name, the US of America, of the Americas, the US of Europes. Name of the continent, America, not Americas, came on, please…

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