Thursday, March 03, 2005

Captain America? No, not here

captain-america wallpaper

However twisted my language may become, I am not going to use American to refer to persons who live in (and may or may not be citizens of) the United States. Can't do it. Since working with folks from Central America, hijacking the name of the whole continent for one country, admittedly very big and powerful, just doesn't work for me any more.

According to the Meriam-Webster OnLine dictionary , "America" is the geographical name of "either continent (N. America or S. America) of the western hemisphere."

So where do we, the US, get off claiming all of it?

The Wikipedia explains how the English language reinforces our US-centric assumptions:

People who live in the Americas are sometimes referred to as being American, although the word American is used much more commonly in English to refer to a citizen of the United States of America. The Spanish language uses norteamericano ("North American") or estadounidense (literally "United Statesian") when referring to U.S. citizens, and the French language sometimes accepts états-unien (états-unienne for women). In Portuguese, people born in United States of America are mostly termed norteamericano instead of americano – while estadounidense is rarely used – and almost exclusively as an ideological statement that the term American shouldn't be reserved only for the people of the USA. On the other hand, Mexico is properly the "United Mexican States" (Estados Unidos Mexicanos).

English is not adequate here; can we help it evolve so as not to co-opt or exclude our neighbors?

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