Re: Two meanings in "American"

Dave Rindos (arkeo4@UNIWA.UWA.EDU.AU)
Thu, 23 Feb 1995 08:07:36 +0800

On Wed, 22 Feb 1995, Macbor wrote:

> In Brazil you can say "estadounidense" too, and some people say
> "gringolandia", but I don't like it.

I noticed in Hondouras (and I assume points further south) 'gringo' was a
neutral term, and one that could comfortably used by a USian (a usage, I
note, which DOES seem to have a very nice e-mail 'feel' to it). Not sure
how far north into Mexico the emotionally neutral connotations will hold
(nor how long, but that is another matter).

Here in Oz, I find that I normally self-describe as 'yank,' again a
totally neutral term (though like any other word quite capable of being
used otherwise, and in certain company such always occurs, but we won't
resurrect *wick in this context).

When I first migrated, I used to wonder why it was even necessary for me
to bother providing my ethnicity / original citisenzhip (I have become
terminally confused by ess/zed/zee). After all, I know I sound JUST like
a TV programme (which, as already noted, might explain some of the
yank-baiting here on the net and elsewhere). But it IS necessary, given
the fact that Canadians and Yanks are NOT marked in perceived speech
(perception of accents is an absolutely fascinating business in itself --
my other half simply cannot get over the fact that when we are in the US
people think *I* have an Australian accent).

This leads to a most interesting habit of ozzies -- the manner in which my
background is solicited. The question is almost inevietably put: "Oh, are
you from Canada?" This is very very good manners (something that ozzies
are usually quite good at). Taking a 'big brother / little brother'
metaphore, it is obvious that one should always solicit the less probable
(statistically) in order to avoid possible offens/ce (cee/ess can get
messy too).

Prescriptive Advice: the rest of you out there in net-land should remember
to *always* ask that person you THINK is Australian "Oh, are you a kiwi?"

who always thought the best single throw-away line on yanks and canuks is:
"Oh, it's really quite simple. Americans are just Canadians carrying