Re: "Two meanings in "american"

Fiona Moore (al772@FREENET.CARLETON.CA)
Mon, 20 Feb 1995 15:47:24 -0500

On a slight tangent to the debate--

>A practical matter is usually omitted from this debate: we are the only
>country, to my knowledge, which actually incorporates the word "America"
>into the name of the nation, whereas both Mexico and Brazil formerly also
>used "The United States of ..." (Does Mexico still?).
>One gets into this treacherous terrain constantly in Latin America. My
>problem with the common solution, "I'm North American," is that I'm *not*
>Canadian or Mexican. I opt for using American, and deem the ensuing
>harangues to be constructive enough to justify the potential offense.
>When I use American in a broader sense, I usually make that specific,

At one point in my studies I came across a 17th century English map (around
1650 I believe) which named the American continents "Mexicana" [North America]
and "Peruana" [South America] respectively. Is there anyone on the list
who can tell me whether these names were ever in general use, and if so,
why "North America" and "South America" were later adopted?

>Back in the 1980s in Nicaragua, so many Americans said they were
>Canadians that some Nicaraguans wouldn't even believe you *were* American
>if you possessed what they considered a progressive outlook. I think that
>the term "North American" obfuscates and evades the issue.

Funny, in the 1990s in Europe, so many people won't believe that there is
a distinction between Americans (in your sense of the word) and Canadians
that I got quite sick of explaining it! Hence my problem with the term
"North American" is that it confuses the issue for people not up on what
the differences are.

Fiona Moore

"Quis crediit, non prodeatur, sed erretur"