American-ness [was RE: even my dumb nontechnical anime group gets it -- why don't we?]

Paul Prescod paul@prescod.net
Thu, 28 Mar 2002 16:06:30 -0800


Owen Byrne wrote:
> 
> Except that other countries don't usurp the continent's name. When we say
> "Arabs" we don't mean someone
> from the United Arab Emirates, and Africans don't all come from South
> Africa.

No, but Botswanians are not "South Africans", are they?

And how would we decide whether to call UAE residents Arabs versus Saudi
Arabians? Anyhow, the word "Arab" probably predates the modern
boundaries by centuries. 

>...
> I wonder what you do call someone from the UAE? And I would love to see the
> inanity that would result if France decided to rename itself "United States
> of Europe" and started using "European" as a synonym for "French."

The current meaning for the word "European" is much more important than
the word "American" would be if it were "freed." How often do you really
need to discuss the common features of all residents of the Americas? We
don't generally speak the same language, nor have common ancestry, nor
have similar economic status, etc. "Americans" are not cohesive even to
the limited extent Europeans are. The way the word is currently used is
more useful.

 Paul Prescod