Yes, They’re Americans. Get Used To It

I want to say, loud and clear for everyone to hear, that yes, it is appropriate and correct to refer to citizens of the United States of America, a.k.a. the United States, a.k.a. the U.S., a.k.a. America, as “Americans”. I write this in response to the following piece of small-minded drivel I saw on Kotaku.com (link here) celebrating the indefinite shelving of the infamous SOPA bill.

Here PeteZahut states:

Dear Congressman Lamar Smith:

AMERICA is the name of the whole continent, thus AMERICAN refers to brazilian, cuban, mexican, argentinian, canadian and so on. Your country’s official name IS United States of America NOT America, not North America.

It’s the kind of thing that freaks me out, like the “You’re” and “Your” misspelling…

And I’m pretty sure this guy is the same kind of ignorant people that thinks Mexico is everything below da States and down to Antartica…

Look, my stepmother is a lovely woman from Colombia. She does not go around calling herself an American. She calls herself a Colombian immigrant to Canada. A Brazilian would call himself a Brazilian, not an American. A Chilean would call himself a Chilean, not an American. These people are justifiably proud of their national heritage. So, I have two problems with this:

  1. It represents an attack on someone else’s national identity
  2. It uses the openly mendacious argument that the identity of “American” is one used by people who are residents of other former colonies that were never part of the U.S.A.

In other words, it’s a pure attempt to demean and insult Americans. It is not an honest argument.

Now why am I explaining all this? Look, there’s really only two ways Japanese people refer to Americans specifically. One is “beikokujin” and the other is “amerikajin”.

I’m simply pointing out that saying the latter is absolutely all right. They really are Americans.

More to the point, if we have to change how we regard the native peoples of the far northern reaches of America once every decade, having cycled through Eskimo and Inuit in past years, where do we get off dictating to “United Statians” what they ought to call themselves, and what we ought to be calling them? Let’s have some fairness here.

The rest is in Japanese, just to avoid any misunderstanding across the language barrier:

「アメリカ人」を使うは良い事よ。まったく問題ではない。時々、南米の人が「我々は本当のアメリカ人だ、あのクズじゃない」とか言っている。無視してください。大体、誰であっても他の民の名前を君臨する権利がないだろう。それより、あの人たちは立派な国と名前がある。「アメリカ人」の意味を壊すがセコイのトリックだけでしょう。アメリカ人はアメリカ人だ。それだけ。

ご理解はありがとうございます!ちなみに私はカナダ人ですけど、多くの友達はアメリカ人。友好らしくで行こう!

So, I just wanted to clear that up for the record. There’s so much better things to debate than if it’s OK to use the term “American”.

P.S. Quebec people have tried to use “Les Etas-Uniens” (“The United-Statiers”) to refer to Americans, without much success. “Les Americains” still dominates. As it should. – J

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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