Sunday, February 12, 2012


Juan, a well-studied, legal immigrant to the U.S. from Mexico, asked me to explain why people from the United States call themselves "Americans," when "America" can be anywhere in North America or South America.  He said Mexicans can be called Americans, too.

I agreed; in a sense, yes, you could call anyone in the New World an "American." 

So he asked again, why are United States citizens "Americans?"

I said, "Well... what do you call people from Canada?"  "Um, Canadians," he replied.  I asked, "What do you call people from Los Estados Unidos de Mexico?"  He responded, "Mexicans."  "And people from Cuba?"  "Cubans."

"So, Juan, everybody has come up with a name for their country that refers to someone or something, yet Americans just want to be people.  Canada and Mexico have their own names, and they want to call themselves by their national names.  Nobody calls themselves 'American' except those in the United States thereof, because nobody wants to call themselves 'Americans' other than we. People from the United States of Mexico call themselves 'Mexicans,' and people from the United States of America call themselves 'Americans.'  We don't really have anything to call ourselves other than 'United-Statsian,' but that is too hard to say."

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