Where are you from? Who are you? October 26, 2010 12:35 AM   Subscribe

In light of the constant debate about who is American and who is Usonian (or whatever favorite adjective you have). How do you identify yourself?

MeFi has users from all over the world. The way I see it the basic debate is geologic border versus geographic borders. Where are you from? How do you self-identify? By geographic borders or by some geologic defintion. Are you Andean? Or Chilean? Are you European? Or Spanish?

This post isn't meant to be an argument about American vs. USian, we've done that. But it could open some eyes that might not otherwise be open.
posted by IvoShandor to Etiquette/Policy at 12:35 AM (352 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I thought the point was made very clearly the other day that Metafilter was an American site, so I label myself "unwelcome".
posted by Rumple at 12:40 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


so I label myself "unwelcome"

Someone did make that point. But really? Is this sarcastic? I really can't tell. I've always thought of MeFi as a pretty welcoming place where people from anywhere, and intelligent people to boot, come to enjoy lively discussion and the serious business of the intertoobz.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:46 AM on October 26, 2010


American, global citizen. I argue with anyone who attempts to push tha USian crap because it's the internet and they're fucking wrong as hell for trying to sling that shit.
posted by nomadicink at 12:48 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, technically "American" would mean anybody who lives in the Americas so it doesn't properly describe US citizens/residents. Maybe the US'ian thing is a reaction to people who want to take back the American moniker without being labelled as someone from the US? I dunno. All I know is, I see a lot of "American" tourists who are so proud to be American but have Canadian flags all over their backpacks :) It's pretty funny when you think about it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:54 AM on October 26, 2010


You are wrong and broken, 1000 monkeys and I would fight you to death about if I could get my fat ass off the couch.

American means from the country of America, your technicalities be damned in the fires of Mount Doom.
posted by nomadicink at 12:59 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Mostly I identify as from Austin Texas, as so many people know about Austin, and everybody knows about Texas. I'm proud to live here, or maybe not proud but damn sure happy that I do, that I get to live here.

I'm from Illinois originally, Chicago and suburbs, when moving to Texas I was amazed at how proud Texans are to be Texans, a real sense of place. I've met people from NYC who have as strong a sense of place, and some in Chicago, maybe, but these Texans -- whoa! It's great. They may not have anything else but they've got that piece and that piece is important. Or so it seems to me anyways...

I prefer to id as from Texas (and esp from Austin) rather than id as a US citizen, as I am totally appalled with my country's absolutely deserved status as murdering-thieving-psycho-fundie-Christian war criminals and just criminals in general, with what our government has done and is doing to other sovereign nations and what our government has done and is doing to us.

And please don't anyone get me wrong, I surely do love the amber waves of grain and all, the purple mountains majesty, blah blah blah. I love the people (many of them, not all, or maybe I love them all but just don't like some of them all too much) who live here, I love what our country stood for, I love the freedoms we used to have.

Anyways: "Hi! I'm from Austin! That's in Texas!" (handshake, smile)
posted by dancestoblue at 1:04 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Burqueña would be my primary geographic identification, though I am also New Mexican and American; I identify more with my city than my country.
posted by NoraReed at 1:09 AM on October 26, 2010


I could see the American thing being a big issue if Canada were actually named "Canada of the Americas" or if Mexico was "Mexico of the Americas" or if El Salvador was "El Salvador of America."

But the plain truth is, The United States of America has the fucking word America in there, and furthermore, it's the last word, and the one most amenable to being spoken of as a national identifier.

I understand that America technically comprises more than the USA. I don't think anyone above third grade has trouble with that distinction. But colloquially, we refer to people from the US as Americans because it's just easier that way.

And I'm fucking Canadian anyway, so what the shit do I care?
posted by Ouisch at 1:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [42 favorites]


Sorry for all the swearing; it's 4:10am here.
posted by Ouisch at 1:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I'm online with people of various nationalities, I identify as American and everyone pretty much knows that means the U.S., but if it's ever in doubt I'm not offended by the use of USian. I mostly see people use it in a light-hearted way.
posted by amyms at 1:15 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I call myself a PakAmeristanican, myself. :)
posted by bardophile at 1:19 AM on October 26, 2010


I think the whole USian thing is silly. It's almost always obvious what "American" and "America" mean. (I think I've used "USian" or something like it a couple of times myself, when I felt that an American commenter was being painfully parochial, and I apologize for that.)

I do find the use of European to mean "citizen of the EU" slightly annoying, though. Sometimes I will read an article about how Europe or the Europeans are doing something and only by the fourth or fifth paragraph do I realize that in this context Europe means the EU. But it's a trivial thing, and I probably only notice it because I happen to live in one of those European countries that are not part of the EU.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:21 AM on October 26, 2010


Well, technically "American" would mean anybody who lives in the Americas so it doesn't properly describe US citizens/residents.

That is certainly not what it means to me as a European, an American is someone from the USA. Anyway, let's not have this tedious discussion again.

I'm a Dutch Imperialist who grew up Texas, Scotland, New Zealand and the Middle East.
posted by atrazine at 1:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys: "Well, technically "American" would mean anybody who lives in the Americas so it doesn't properly describe US citizens/residents."

To riff on my comment in the other thread:

- Technically, "South African" could mean anybody who lives in the southern part of Africa (including Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, etc.), so it doesn't properly describe citizens of the Republic of South Africa alone.
- Technically, "Italian" could mean anybody who lives in the Italian Peninsula (including San Marino and Vatican City), so it doesn't properly describe citizens of the Italian Republic alone.
- Technically, "Malaysian" could mean anybody who lives in the Malay Archipelago (including Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, etc.), so it doesn't properly describe citizens of the Federation of Malaysia alone.

All these are technically true, but I don't see anyone arguing we dispense with the demonyms universally associated with these countries because those countries happen to share a similarly-named landmass with smaller countries that have never used those terms (and which already have demonyms of their own).
posted by Rhaomi at 1:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [52 favorites]


American is the excepted term for people from the USA, and anything else would just sound strange.

As for self identification, I'm Canadian, Edmontonian, Albertan, science fiction nerd, Earthling, resident of the Orion arm, Milky Way Galaxy, The Universe. And not that universe with all the antimatter either, it's the matter one on the left. Your other left. Yeah, that one.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I live in the USA, but wasn't born here, I've moved country 5 times, have 2 passports, family and friends all over the world, so any identification beyond "english speaking" is hard to make...

But I've been losing sleep talking to my friend in Germany on IRC, whose mom and dad both recently died of cancer. I know how my friend in Toronto is doing, and how he's having trouble with his boyfriend and school. I've stayed up to catch daybreak in England, Australia, Egypt, Israel, Taiwan, Korea, when the people I like, know, work with or just find interesting, are up and about. I know more about their lives than many of my co workers. I think a lot of people are living this way, mostly online, and it's not, inherently, a less rich existence. We're anchored, not to geography, but to a different set of relationships.

I also remember 9/11, and the start of the Iraq war, and spending days just online, skipping school, just talking with people all over the world, checking out the news, refeshing it over and over. Realizing the countries I could claim were my own were unquestionably the bad guys, the brazen liars. Feeling profound alienation from any country on earth, to be honest.

And I just want to know, why treat someone differently based on what side of a line they're born on? Isn't nationalism just the same kind of crap as religion, an us-versus-them game? Isn't it natural to think, or at least hope, it'll all die off one day, that we'll one day end up with some kind of government saner than our politicians, with their little fiefdoms scattered over the Earth's land masses? Where many people, really, can go live anywhere they want, if they're lucky enough to have a little money and some tolerance for upheaval?

I think I live on the internet. This is my country.
posted by 7-7 at 1:29 AM on October 26, 2010 [33 favorites]


Whoa whoa whoa people, chill out. I never said that people don't understand that someone who calls themselves an American is from the US, I was just saying that non-US citizens may choose to differentiate since they may be "American" but non-US. It wasn't a slag at US/Americans or anything, it was just a point of observation that American isn't necessarily equal to USA and some people may use terms like US'ian jokingly (or sometimes derrogatively? is that even a word?) regarding US citizens. Yeesh.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:30 AM on October 26, 2010


Although, to be honest, I don't care if people like to refer to Americans as USians. That's cool if you want to be specific.

I just don't get why anyone would be butthurt about the term "America" referring to people from the United States of America. Especially why Canadians would be the ones making the complaint.

I know there are a lot more popular girls around, but I promise, you've got a lot going for you, too, Canada. Someday -- someday you'll grow up to be a real heartbreaker. Just you wait.
posted by Ouisch at 1:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I self identify as Ugly American. I've never been asked to clarify whether I'm Mexican or Canadian.
posted by klarck at 1:35 AM on October 26, 2010


I think I live on the internet. This is my country.
Forget T-shirts. When is the next run of Metafilter passports?
posted by whatzit at 1:35 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry 1000monkeys, my grar is not necessarily directed at you specifically; it's a holdover from the previous arguments I've seen on this topic and been recently annoyed by. And that I assume indirectly inspired this MeTa.
posted by Ouisch at 1:35 AM on October 26, 2010


Or, rather, directly.
posted by Ouisch at 1:39 AM on October 26, 2010


No worries, Ouisch. I wasn't trying to "take back" the term American or anything. To be perfectly honest, I hate when people assume I'm American (overseas, for example). I know there is that "ugly American" stereotype, but I've met a whole lot of great Americans, including on overseas trips, and I feel kind of bad how they all get painted with the same brush. I mean, someone in France will ask if I'm American and as soon as I say I'm Canadian, it's like they're relieved. I've even been told "I knew you weren't American, vous-etes trops sympatique (you are too nice)". Yikes!

But I still find it funny when Americans wear Canadian flags LOL
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:43 AM on October 26, 2010


Oh, on that note, my original point was: I honestly (and a bit guiltily) don't want to ever be called American. Partly because of the reputation that comes with, and partly because I'm extremely proud of being Canadian.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:44 AM on October 26, 2010


I call myself an American. I write USA under nationality on the many, many forms that I end up having to fill out as a foreigner in another country. When people ask, I say I'm from the States (which seems to be a phrase only Americans living overseas use for some reason. People back home don't refer to it as the States, it seems). I say I'm from the States, from Michigan. When that draws blank stares, I usually say "It's near Chicago."

As for the USian thing, calling people something they don't want to be called, and have asked not to be called that is rude. I'm an American. Please refer to me as such. It's the convention that most Americans have grown up with, and freely use in our daily lives. I don't particularly like to be called a USian, mostly because nearly every time I've seen it used, it's been used by someone trying to point out their innate moral superiority based on a series of random chances leading to them being born in a certain part of the world. If you choose not to use the word I've asked you to use, then I'll respond in kind and call you an asshole.

sorry for the grar, it's just that I'm pretty tired of this whole argument
posted by Ghidorah at 1:57 AM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


"Hi, I attend [large major southern university]. That's in Atlanta. Yes. The Olympics. The bombings. Yes. That one. Yes it is in the south. Yes. Can we not talk about it any more?"
posted by strixus at 1:59 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]



But I still find it funny when Americans wear Canadian flags


Do you know why? I've heard some do it because Americans (the U.S. kind) are targets in certain parts of the world. certain nations. I may have heard this in some post-9/11 haze though, and possibly on CNN, so YMMV. But maybe the U.S. Department of State once told citizens to pretend to be Canadian in Kenya or some such nonsense?
posted by IvoShandor at 2:01 AM on October 26, 2010


Do you know why? I've heard some do it because Americans (the U.S. kind) are targets in certain parts of the world.

Well, I've been seeing it since as far back as 1992 or 1993, so it can't be a post 9/11 State Dept thing.
posted by bardophile at 2:04 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I still find it funny when Americans wear Canadian flags

It also has to do with the perception of America as a rich country. While living in China, it wasn't uncommon for people in my social circle who openly identified as American to be charged more than people from other places (say, France, Belgium, Mongolia, Thailand, etc). I tried claiming Canadian, but then people (seriously) started asking me questions about immigration. Finally, I started saying I was from Iceland. Most people would have no idea what I was talking about, and that phase of the conversation would mercifully end.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:07 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm from the only part of the world that pretends to be Canadian when it travels.
posted by rhizome at 2:08 AM on October 26, 2010


I honestly (and a bit guiltily) don't want to ever be called American. Partly because of the reputation that comes with, and partly because I'm extremely proud of being Canadian.

I find this attitude slightly saddening. Am I proud to be Norwegian? No. But I don't mind, it's where I happened to be born. But I sure as hell hope that I wouldn't be ashamed if I had happened to be born in America or China. Yet I sometimes get the feeling that many Canadians, Europeans, and Australians think that Americans should apologize for being Americans. And that's pretty fucked up.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:09 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


For our purposes, I'm an anglotextual Internetian. Unless and until I wear it out, I should be welcome in every post here, even when it's a question about genitalia I don't even have or about your favorite band that sucks genitalia I don't even have. I think the "USian" stuff is 99.999 percent crap, but I am more amused than I am bothered by it and the subsequent sputtering.

I do hope people here always assume they are always talking to a diverse and shifting audience that probably looks and acts something like the customers at the saloon in that cheesy old spaghetti western, Star Wars. We're not all straight white men and we're not all from the United Confederation of Middle Norte Americano Decidedly Unsocialist Capitalistical Commonwealthy Semi-Independent Demi-Sovereign-like Retread-On-Me Provinco-State-oids.
posted by pracowity at 2:20 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is confusing sometimes but where it causes confusion I tend to say 'the US govt.' or 'people from N. America' which is clunky but takes out the possible double meaning. For South African countries that aren't South Africa I use Southern Africa which isn't as easily misinterpreted.

For all that it feels like the UK is an Americanised culture sometimes, I come across situations all the time where the word America might completely change a sentence when it might not in the US. I try to avoid USian because although it has no connotations for me, people in the US object to it, but then they just become people in the US because American is way too vague in international terms. Sometimes you can use 'the Americas' but that's a bit BBC world news for me, ie only for use when talking about earthquakes and such.
posted by shinybaum at 2:22 AM on October 26, 2010


Scottish > British > European. In that order. If Scotland ever becomes independent, I'm not sure what the middle one will change to, or if it will go away entirely.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:24 AM on October 26, 2010


Prole. We're the universal class, don't y'know?
posted by Abiezer at 2:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Seriously though, why is the term USian and not USAian? It can't be because USian sounds better: they're both appalling.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:52 AM on October 26, 2010


Epictetus:
If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and Man be true, what remains for men to do but as Socrates did:--never, when asked one's country, to answer, "I am an Athenian or a Corinthian," but "I am a citizen of the world."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:53 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who cares if we really cant tell on the internets anyways?

Its kinda like asking people what color their hair is on the internet...

Hey internet peoples, what color hair do u have?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:05 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh, Ivo. If you didn't want to discuss American vs. USian you'd probably have been better off not juxtaposing the grar words in the first sentence.

I don't call myself European anymore because whenever I say "in Europe we do this" it turns out that 80 percent or 60 percent or whatever don't do this. It's not a useful identifier because it sonetimes seems European nations have nothing in common with each other.

Mostly, I think the city I come from has made me who I was. So often I will use that. But the only times I will point it out online is to underline the difference between me and others, and I am trying to stop doing that, so what's the point, really?
posted by Omnomnom at 3:07 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm just a person, and I get a bit suspect of people who identify overly with their location of origin.

Of course, that means I come from a nation of invasion/immigration.

(on non-preview: what Abiezer said)
posted by pompomtom at 3:08 AM on October 26, 2010


Oh man, not this tedious argument again. "American" works just fine. Everybody in my large Mexican family understands what that means. Even they say "Americanos"

Anyways, I am always thinking about where I am from....I was in the security line yesterday flying from France to the UK. I live in the UK even though I am an American by birth and upbringing. My extended family is Mexican. My wife is from Portugal.

My current passport is from 2001 and it is due to expire next year. It is so full of visas and stamps that I had to get extra pages and now, those extra pages are about to run out. It is a shabby looking thing, battered looking and faded blue. Much different than the crisp ones they are issuing to new travelers these days.

Anyways, the security guy is patting me down because the portal beeped. Probably my belt buckle. As he is patting me down, he asks "Where are you from?" I answer "I am an American."

He glances at the passport in my hand and says "That's not an American passport." grabs it and then looks flustered as he says "Oh. Yes, it is......Ok, I'm done. Thank you."

I am an American. Not only was I born and raised there but my great-grandmother was born there too. In the 19th century where she worked on a farm in California. I have great-uncles who fought for the US in World War II and came back battle-scared and a bit crazy. So, yes, I am proudly an American. And I feel great attachment to my home country.

But I am, more than that, a global citizen now. The people I care most about in this world are here in the UK and in Portugal and in the United States and in Mexico. My best friends are in places like the Netherlands and Hong Kong. To care and only care about the United States is I now realize a very limited and selfish thing.

To a passport officer the only answer I can give is that I am an American. But when we travel abroad and friendly folks at hotels and other places ask us "Oh. Where are you two from?" there is always this moment of hesitation as we try to guess the question that they are really asking and the answer they want to hear.
posted by vacapinta at 3:13 AM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


Heh, Ivo. If you didn't want to discuss American vs. USian you'd probably have been better off not juxtaposing the grar words in the first sentence.

Yeah. I figured that contested juxtaposition would have come out anyway. I really am just interested in self-identification. It seems so often that people speak for others on the topic. Or are just being overly cautious. As for me, I suppose I would identify as an American first, then a guy from Illinois, then maybe a person from random Illinois city. I see myself more a resident of my hometown than any other place I've lived, even though I've been gone from my hometown for a long enough time that it seems slightly foreign when I return. I hate using the word Illinoisan. So I say I'm from Illinois, not I'm an Illinoisan. It also depends on who I'm talking to. With people from the United States it makes more sense to identify by state or city. With people from another nation naming a state or city often just results in confused looks. American never has, not for me anyway. "I'm an American." "Oh, you're from Argentina?" Never happend. My experience may not be the norm, however. I'll shut up now.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:17 AM on October 26, 2010


Hey internet peoples, what color hair do u have?

As a bald man, I am offended.

thanks, I'll be here all week. Tip your waitress.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:20 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the immortal words of Margaret Cho: "I'm a fucking American, g-ddammnit."

Or, if I'm forced to be polite, just American.

I don't particularly like to be called a USian, mostly because nearly every time I've seen it used, it's been used by someone trying to point out their innate moral superiority based on a series of random chances leading to them being born in a certain part of the world. If you choose not to use the word I've asked you to use, then I'll respond in kind and call you an asshole.

Yes, this, repeated for emphasis.

Yet I sometimes get the feeling that many Canadians, Europeans, and Australians think that Americans should apologize for being Americans. And that's pretty fucked up.

And this, which is why I think the term "USian" got invented in the first place because RestofWorlders thought our own demonym was too imperialistic. It's a perfectly cromulent name!
posted by sonika at 3:28 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, why is the term USian and not USAian? It can't be because USian sounds better: they're both appalling.

I'll take a wild stab at it: "USian" is shorter and easier to pronounce? (But yes, none of them sound good.)
posted by Dumsnill at 3:30 AM on October 26, 2010


I have a few passports. If capital is allowed to freely move across borders, I should be allowed to move and work where I please, as well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I emigrated from the United States in 1997, and the longer I live outside the country the more perplexing I find the extreme US patriotism, which is found to some extent even in leftist circles. You'll find few other countries on the earth where flags are so openly, proudly and widely flown as America.

But here is my overall issue (and this isn't directed only at America): governments cause lots of problems. I won't go so far as to say they cause more than they solve, but some of the bigger, more visible problems - wars, economic disasters, famines - were clearly caused by government, acting for perhaps obscure or even obvious reasons, putting the needs of its citizens above those of some other nation. Other times there is no rational reason for governments doing what they do. Sometimes governments just like to send a message to other governments, strutting like a school yard bully.

I spent a lot of time working down in Sub Saharan Africa, lots of time out of the cities and I distinctly remember on some of the rather porous and poorly defined borders folks living peacefully side by side, the way they had for decades if not generations. Folks of different nationalities, mind you, as if women and children and men and babies or other people really care about nationality when they are eking out a subsistence existence.

Then, of course, someone from the government shows up and starts agitating, separating people, driving divisions, fanning base emotions such as greed. Sure enough, tension turns into hostility turns into sporadic combat and finally outright war and THEN the need for government is obvious: to protect YOU (our citizens) from THEM (the foreigners).

And so it goes. Where ever there is a government you've got this bullshit agitating and positioning going on.

Like others upthread, I think we'd be better off if we stopped identifying by geographical boundaries. Water, it seems, separates us even as blood joins us.

Myself, I'm working towards the five flags lifestyle: originating and maintaining citizenship in one country while living in a second, generating money in a third, parking assets in a forth and spending the bulk of leisure time in fifth nation.

Weaken and minimise the control any single government can exert over an individual. That should be the goal of every rational person. Not to submit to patriotism, proudly wearing a meaningless label.

posted by Mutant at 3:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is so full of visas and stamps that I had to get extra pages and now

Vacapinta, I had to do that. It was fun to have pages with letters instead of numbers, but then, yeah, I had to renew my passport last year. It's kind of a let down to lose so many cool stamps, and a bit unnerving to be without my passport for a couple weeks while I waited for it to get sent from America (they don't print them overseas anymore, sadly). That, and the new one has quotes on every page, and one of them is by Ronald Reagan...
posted by Ghidorah at 3:35 AM on October 26, 2010


Right now I fell like a deja vu-ian.
posted by Splunge at 4:01 AM on October 26, 2010


Leaving out the diacritics in déjà is so fucking typical of you USians.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:04 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


"It's kind of a let down to lose so many cool stamps"

I thought I lost mine, so I just did the request a new one w/o turning in the old one procedure. Much later, I found the old one, and I was glad - I put it away in my desk drawer, and take it out every now and then to look at all the stamps and reminisce.
posted by HopperFan at 4:10 AM on October 26, 2010


"Hi, I'm from New York."
By phone: "I'm calling from New York."
It's one of the nice things about living here. Everyone knows the City.
posted by zarq at 4:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm a proud Earthican.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't wait for aliens to get here so we can all realize how incredibly similar we all are, and how incredibly small the Earth is.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:19 AM on October 26, 2010


I can't wait for aliens to get here so we can all realize how incredibly similar we all are, and how incredibly small the Earth is.

I admire your optimism, but to quote Terry Pratchett:

Racism was not a problem on the Discworld, because -- what with trolls and dwarfs and so on -- speciesism was more interesting. Black and white lived in perfect harmony and ganged up on green.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:20 AM on October 26, 2010


Ghidorah: Finally, I started saying I was from Iceland.

Please don't do that.

Though there's a weird and interesting tradition of fake Icelanders, the most famous recent example being Thorarinn Gunnarsson.

Oh, and nationality identification-wise I'd probably go: Icelander, then European.
posted by Kattullus at 4:25 AM on October 26, 2010


Poor Canadians - always being mistaken for Americans, even for Americans in disguise.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:33 AM on October 26, 2010


Sorry, Kattullus, it was the first nationality I found after I'd abandoned the Canadian ruse. It's not without its merits, though, as now I can teach you 'wo shih pin dao ren.' (I think that means, I'm an Icelander, but it's been ten years, and I am probably mistaken)
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 AM on October 26, 2010


in Mandarin?!??
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:51 AM on October 26, 2010


i just tell people i'm a mefilian.
posted by msconduct at 4:51 AM on October 26, 2010


Yeah, Mandarin. Or as much as I learned. It's probably completely wrong, as I've forgotten almost everything. I remain totally fluent in 'Point and Grunt,' however.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:55 AM on October 26, 2010


IvoShandor: "
But I still find it funny when Americans wear Canadian flags


Do you know why? I've heard some do it because Americans (the U.S. kind) are targets in certain parts of the world. certain nations. I may have heard this in some post-9/11 haze though, and possibly on CNN, so YMMV. But maybe the U.S. Department of State once told citizens to pretend to be Canadian in Kenya or some such nonsense?
"

Jeez. I guess I can give you the short version of a story which happened to me right before 9/11. I had just purchased a few tolas of hash in the tribal area at the Khyber Pass in Pakistan. It's a weird sort of set up where there are Pakistani police roaming around, but they don't bother enforcing any laws on the locals, and they generally stay out of the contraband areas. It's like the fuckin' Wild West of guns, opium, and hashish. Anyway, I grabbed three tolas (over an ounce) off a dude in the market for a whopping $4. Leaving the hash market and its AK-47 toting Pashtun security, I began walking toward the area my bus had dropped me off at. In front of me, walking in the same direction, were two Pakistani officers. Something felt off. I didn't know what, but something. As I reached in my pocket to ditch the hash on the ground, the officers turned around and grabbed me.

I'd left anything of value back in the guesthouse with my girlfriend - money, credit card, passport, camera. Everything. The police were escorting me to a mobile station only 50 feet away. All I was thinking was, "it's not going down like this. No fuckin' way." They just kept saying, "Passport? Embassy? Passport?" An English speaking civilian came over and intervened before we reached the station. They wanted to know what my nationality was - why? So they could decide how much of a bribe to take. After showing them that I didn't have a damn thing on me, they demanded $100 USD. Luckily, the non-dope smoking German dude I'd come with had the dough and I was released. I later found out that it's pretty common for the dude who deals to a foreigner to rat that foreigner out in order to get his goods back, as well a small share in the baksheesh the police extort.

Later that day, I was talking with a few Japanese kids in the common area of my guesthouse. One of their friends had been busted a week earlier and ended up paying the police a total of $6000 to get off. The fuckers marched the dude to the bank and made him cash all his traveler's cheques. All of them. What I learned, is that apparently, there is a system for how much baksheesh they're going to demand, and that Japanese and U.S. citizens are gonna pay the most. Japanese because they're seen as ultra rich and people from the U.S. because, well, they hate you.
posted by gman at 4:55 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, I've been seeing it since as far back as 1992 or 1993, so it can't be a post 9/11 State Dept thing. --- even older than that. Someone recommended I do it before I went on my trip to Europe in the 80's.
posted by crunchland at 4:59 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Japanese because they're seen as ultra rich and people from the U.S. because, well, they hate you.

Why not just pretend to be an Israeli?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on October 26, 2010


How do you identify yourself?

Stranded.
posted by adipocere at 5:01 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jihadi first, American distant second.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:02 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Japanese people tend to get the short end of the stick in a lot of places, especially around Asia. History notwithstanding, Japan isn't seen as a haggling culture. In countries where haggling is kind of a standard thing, Japanese people are known to, on average, pay the face value. Locals, realizing that, charge an even higher rate for Japanese tourists. It's pretty blatant in Bali, where a good number of businesses have Japanese on their storefronts. Japanese people see the signs and think, hey, they speak Japanese! Then they promptly get charged up to double what the place next door is charging, and they'll gladly pay it.

I call it the Failed National English Education Tax.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:05 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Geographically Irish. Not too fussed about political borders.
posted by knapah at 5:07 AM on October 26, 2010


Everyone knows the City.

You mean San Francisco, right?
posted by i_cola at 5:14 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Mancunian, English, British and European. Not necessarily in that order.
posted by idiomatika at 5:15 AM on October 26, 2010


I live in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

When I traveled through several countries in southern Africa in 1996 I tried to use the term "USA," as in "I'm from the USA." This basically flopped. Everyone I met and spoke with called my country "America" and so I ended up doing the same thing to ensure that I was understood.

One person did voice a related pet peeve to me, though. He said, "How come when I buy a world atlas in Johannesburg, one half of it is taken up with the whole world and the other half it taken up with America? I'm buying this book in South Africa!"
posted by alms at 5:16 AM on October 26, 2010


And the correct answer would have been "All roads lead to Rome."
posted by crunchland at 5:22 AM on October 26, 2010


Japanese because they're seen as ultra rich and people from the U.S. because, well, they hate you.

Why not just pretend to be an Israeli?


Well, also because Americans are also seen as ultra rich.

And you can't pretend to be an Israeli because Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel, so you can't enter the country with an Israeli passport. In the unlikely event that this state of affairs changes, I still would not advise an Israeli to visit Pakistan, much as it breaks my heart to say that.
posted by bardophile at 5:35 AM on October 26, 2010


It's always telling to see what people call Americans in other languages (insert easy joke here). For instance, in Arabic, there is the word "amriki" to mean American, but there is no corresponding word for someone from the USA; the phrase for the USA is "al-wilayaat al-mutahida al-amrikiyya."
posted by proj at 5:38 AM on October 26, 2010


And you can't pretend to be an Israeli because Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel, so you can't enter the country with an Israeli passport. In the unlikely event that this state of affairs changes, I still would not advise an Israeli to visit Pakistan, much as it breaks my heart to say that.

Pretty sure you missed the sarcasm.
posted by proj at 5:38 AM on October 26, 2010


Jeez. I guess I can give you the short version of a story which happened to me right before 9/11. I had just purchased a few tolas of hash in the tribal area at the Khyber Pass in Pakistan.

Buying drugs from strangers is about the dumbest fucking thing you can do, no matter where you live.
posted by empath at 5:39 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Human. Mostly.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:43 AM on October 26, 2010


Buying drugs from strangers is about the dumbest fucking thing you can do, no matter where you live. --- Why do you say that? In the US, perhaps, but in countries where there is no stigma, no laws, no anything, where buying hashish would be as routine as buying an apple? I think you might be guilty of applying a local maxim to the rest of the world here, empath.
posted by crunchland at 5:47 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm from Brooklyn.
But really I'm from Quebec.
Except that I lived in Brooklyn ~20 years, nine more than in Canada.
So I'm kind of mostly from Brooklyn. You know, I'm an immigrant.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:49 AM on October 26, 2010


empath: Buying drugs from strangers is about the dumbest fucking thing you can do, no matter where you live.

Really? Curious to know how much time you've spent traveling outside of the U.S.? All in all, I've spent about 10 years on the road and never run into any drug-related issues aside from the one I wrote about. It's pretty darn easy to cheaply buy yourself out of a shitty predicament, so long as you nip it in the bud and don't let it escalate.
posted by gman at 5:50 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm from Michigan, motherfucker.

it's enough. It's always been enough.
posted by disclaimer at 5:53 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You mean San Francisco, right?

Only for values of "San Francisco" that = "New York." ;)
posted by zarq at 5:53 AM on October 26, 2010


Pretty sure you missed the sarcasm.

No, I didn't.
posted by bardophile at 5:55 AM on October 26, 2010


I love what our country stood for, I love the freedoms we used to have

"We" referring mostly to White Christian Men, of course.
posted by zarq at 6:01 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq: sorry, Wikipedia is always right and it gives either London or San Francisco ;-)

Depending on who I'm talking to, I'm from New Zealand, or from Wellington, or I grew up in Ngaio [area in Wellington]. Or I live in London, but I'm from New Zealand. Or I live in Brixton.

I'd define as a New Zealander first, Wellingtonian second, Londoner third. In terms of appearances, I've been mistaken for all sorts of nationality, mostly in tourist areas where one particular nationality predominated, so people have thought I'm Australian, British, German, Israeli, Spanish, and (at one point when I was wandering round India in a Muslim cap and had a good tan) Arabic....
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:03 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm from the Republic of Cascadia
posted by Blasdelb at 6:08 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I only mention my region of origin if someone asks me directly or if it's obviously relevant to the conversation. I usually say "British"; occasionally "European" when that seems more relevant. I only use "English" when I'm trying to wind up a Celt. :-)
posted by Decani at 6:09 AM on October 26, 2010


I usually call myself a U.S. citizen. I'm aware that this too is problematic but it seems to me to be the least contradiction-ridden.
posted by kalessin at 6:17 AM on October 26, 2010


Just for reference, the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, National Post, Province, Winnipeg Free Press, Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, and Vancouver Sun in my informal poll of largest Canadian newspapers apparently use the term American to refer to people from the USA.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:18 AM on October 26, 2010


'wo shih pin dao ren.'

The 'pin' should probably be 'bing'. Iceland = Bing1dao3. Bing1 means ice, and dao3 means island.

Anyway... I'm American, then Texan. Born in Beijing. Erstwhile Chicagoan. Slightly Canadian (lived in Kitchener with friends for about a month).

Here's a bit of a tangent. If you're from the metro area of a large city but not the city itself, do you identify with the city? I find this usually depends on how likely my audience is to know the intricacies of the geography I'm talking about. If I'm in Texas I would probably explain how I grew up in Austin and Round Rock. Talking to anybody else I'd just say Austin.
posted by kmz at 6:18 AM on October 26, 2010


I self-identify as American, but when travelling in the US it gets harder. Do I say, "I'm from Texas" because I live here now, or do I say "Austin, Texas"? Although I'm fond of Texas in general (with obvious caveats, natch) Austin is a specific part of Texas that is in some ways distinct from the rest. But actually people say "where are you from" not "where do you live", so I should say I'm "from" Indiana, because I was born there. Or I should say "Massachusetts" because surely much of the plaster in my brain set while I lived there (but when they ask which town, what do I say - the town I lived in for 8 years, or the town I lived in most recently [although still 10+ years ago] for 3 years, but graduated high school from?), but when I lived there when people would ask me where I was from I'd always say Indiana. It's confounding.

I'm with the people saying they are from the internet, except I'm going to say I'm actually from TV. I moved to the internet after college.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:21 AM on October 26, 2010


The People's Republic of Mancunia recognises no government but Factory. The sun never set on our empire at one point but then we got shafted by better music.
posted by shinybaum at 6:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And oh, I forgot to mention Fort Worth resident. But I don't know a good demonym for that.
posted by kmz at 6:23 AM on October 26, 2010


some of the bigger, more visible problems - wars, economic disasters, famines - were clearly caused by government

Governments don't kill people; people kill people.

Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for chow.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:24 AM on October 26, 2010


Well, I'm glad to see that others here also think of themselves as Jihadi Proles first and foremost. Second to that I'm a Norwegian Trønder, European, and late for chow.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:26 AM on October 26, 2010


The "technically, America is two continents" argument would hold some weight if anybody from any country other than the United States of America called themselves Americans, but they don't. Come on. Chileans. Mexicans. Nicaraguans. Canadians. Brazilians. Ad infinitum. It is utterly beyond obvious to anyone in the world with a brain stem what you mean when you say "I'm an American."

I say that phrase because it's a syntactically simple and obvious construct, and it's easy on the lips and tongue compared to the alternatives.

People trot out the USian trope to make a cheap political point about US-centrism that's undeserved around here anyway 95% of the time. It's a dumb "debate" and it endumbens us all to have it over and over and over again.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


(Forgot to mention that very specifically I'm a Vermonster and no, I don't mind being called a Yankee as I have indeed eaten pie for breakfast.)
posted by sonika at 6:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am from Missouri. I am a missourian.

MIZ!
posted by schyler523 at 6:34 AM on October 26, 2010


Devils Rancher: It's usually at this point in the argument that one of two things* happens. First, someone who is a MeFite him or herself posts that he or she lives in a non-US American country and calls him or herself an American or, second, someone claims to have met someone who does this. It doesn't disprove the larger point that 99.9% of the world uses the term "American" to mean "People who live in the USA" but they always smugly think that it does.

* Or, a third, rarer, thing happens -- someone from Mexico argues that Mexico is also the "United States."
posted by proj at 6:35 AM on October 26, 2010


do I say "Austin, Texas"?

Is there another Austin that people might have heard of?

The trick is to know crappy things about other countries, so that when you run into some asshole who is all "you Americans should be so ashamed about X, we are so superior, blah blah" you can respond by mentioning something even crappier about the asshole's country. Happily, we live in a world in which every country has plenty to be ashamed about, so this is like shooting fish in a barrel.
posted by Forktine at 6:36 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm from New York, which works by metonymy. If further pressed, I am a Soviet Jew by birth.
posted by griphus at 6:39 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm another one who tried telling people in Tunisia that I was from the United States and nobody had any idea what I meant. But then I said America, and in response every single time got a smile and "Obama!" It was nice.
posted by something something at 6:44 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


The "technically, America is two continents" argument would hold some weight if anybody from any country other than the United States of America called themselves Americans, but they don't.

But hwo many people say 'technically, you aren't an American'. Mostly the arguments aren't that stupid, they're about how to write up news stories without confusion. There's lots of times adding US to a sentence would eliminate confusion (and as a bonus stop aggravating people). Talking about 'the' Civil War, for example. Or even 'the' American government sometimes, depending on the context. Talking about issues relating to South American countries and/or their relationship to the US, it just makes more sense to call it the US in comparison. Sometimes I default to it must mean America-the-country and sometimes it looks weird. It's not a huge deal but I've clicked on a few posts here and it isn't about what I thought it'd be about by a long shot.

The best cities to live in, most intellectual cities etc., always look completely weird when it turns out they meant in America or in the UK or whatever.
posted by shinybaum at 6:52 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't find out that calling the United States "America" was an issue for anyone until I lived in England for a while. Most U.S. citizens probably don't know about the potential for offensiveness, so it's kind of a sneaky thing to get mad about. Also, use of this term is not an attempt to hijack the whole American identity. U.S. grade schools don't talk about "America" as a continent -- they mention only North America and South America. So this problem makes sense to me, and I try not to use the term American (especially after the Republicans seem to have changed it's meaning to include fist-pumping patriotism). But keep in mind that it is a new issue for many of us, even the more educated and traveled of us.
posted by theredpen at 6:54 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forktine: Is there another Austin that people might have heard of?

Maybe thinking the other way, I guess there are probably some geographically-challenged people who haven't heard of Austin, but know about Texas.

The trick is to know crappy things about other countries, so that when you run into some asshole who is all "you Americans should be so ashamed about X, we are so superior, blah blah" you can respond by mentioning something even crappier about the asshole's country.

Nah, just ignore assholes. No need to sink to their level.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:56 AM on October 26, 2010


Everyone I've encountered in the Americas refer to themselves as being of whatever country they're from. American (or Americano/Americana/Américain/Amerikaanse) refers to people from the United States.

When asked where I'm from I'll say San Diego, California. Or if the question is more to what country, I'll use the United States and American interchangeably. I'll use "the States" in the UK. And I'll say estadounidense about 15 miles south of here (I could say Norteamericano, Americano or Estados Unidos, but estadounidense is so much fun to say and it means United-Statesian...or USian)

When I lived in Texas I would say I was from Austin, Texas and it was always funny because people from Paris to Phuket would say "oh...Texas... that's where that's where Bush is from." And they'd be quiet until I said something about not liking Bush.

In the US, so many people would always say, "oh... Austin. I heard that place is pretty cool."
posted by birdherder at 6:57 AM on October 26, 2010


But it could open some eyes that might not otherwise be open.

I live in the United States of America. I'm American. I'm under the impression that the overwhelming majority of Mefites are living in the USA. I scrolled through all the comments in this thread, and so far it looks this thread supports my belief.

What are my eyes supposed to be opened to?
posted by 23skidoo at 6:58 AM on October 26, 2010


kmz, thanks for the correction. I was a lot closer than I thought. Sort of surprising.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:02 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm am American in exile
posted by chillmost at 7:04 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm Dave. What more do you need, really?
posted by davejay at 7:04 AM on October 26, 2010


Well, technically "American" would mean anybody who lives in the Americas so it doesn't properly describe US citizens/residents.

When you say this is "technically" the case, what do you mean? Is there any source for this?
posted by John Cohen at 7:04 AM on October 26, 2010


Look, people from "The United States Of America" are American, and people from "the Americas" are Americasn. OK? Right. Glad we got that sorted.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


A tomato is technically a fruit yet....
posted by edgeways at 7:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


d I try not to use the term American (especially after the Republicans seem to have changed it's meaning to include fist-pumping patriotism).

Please don't do this. There are those of us who are bleeding heart liberals who would be in Stalin's backyard were we any further to the left of the spectrum who are just as fucking American as any Republican.

Don't avoid using the word because of some assholes. I hate to say it needs to be "reclaimed," but American is inclusive of far, far more people than just the patriotic flag-waving jerkfaces.
posted by sonika at 7:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I guess I would have to travel somewhere to have this problem.
posted by JanetLand at 7:19 AM on October 26, 2010


I've never seen anyone who's not Canadian with a Canadian flag on their backpack. I mean, that just gets Canadians to talk to you about hockey, and who would want that?
posted by smackfu at 7:21 AM on October 26, 2010


Most U.S. citizens probably don't know about the potential for offensiveness, so it's kind of a sneaky thing to get mad about.
*sneakily gets mad about rampant arms-bearing and leader of the free world conceit*
posted by fish tick at 7:21 AM on October 26, 2010


Is there another Austin that people might have heard of?

There is a small chance luncheon meat aficionados would think of Austin, Minnesota, home of SPAM.

BTW, I just realized what this whole debate reminds me of, even though it's not quite analogous. The eternal debate on Slashdot when somebody (usually a news source) uses the word "hacker" to mean "cracker". Oh, the gnashing of teeth on that one.
posted by kmz at 7:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


(especially after the Republicans seem to have changed it's meaning to include fist-pumping patriotism)

I'm sorry but what, exactly, is wrong with fist-pumping patriotism? I'm an immigrant from a country wherein one had to wait on line for bread. In 1992. I fucking love America and I am a god-damn patriot whether or not the administration running this country is trying to destroy it or not.
posted by griphus at 7:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't mind being called a Yankee as I have indeed eaten pie for breakfast.

That's all well and good until you want to marry someone from North Carolina whose grandfather refuses to come to the wedding because he is marrying a Yankee.

The day Mr. Pterodactyl was leaving for college, as he was loading the car, his grandfather called him up FRANTIC to warn him against Yankees with (exact quote) "their drinking and their pills and their weird sex games", so in many ways he considers me his worst nightmare which is totally ridiculous because I have never given Mr. Pterodactyl any pills.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


This is boring. Where's the Whelk?
posted by hermitosis at 7:25 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm sorry but what, exactly, is wrong with fist-pumping patriotism?

There is nothing that is not wrong with fist-pumping patriotism.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:28 AM on October 26, 2010


I am a Mancunian Englishman.
posted by Jofus at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2010


I am a god-damn patriot whether or not the administration running this country is trying to destroy it or not.

You see no problems with this attitude?
posted by Dumsnill at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2010


I try not to use the term American (especially after the Republicans seem to have changed it's meaning to include fist-pumping patriotism).

The key word here is "include."

Americans do include fist-pumping patriots.

Americans also include people who can't stand patriotism and are profoundly critical of their own country.

That's one of the things I like about America: it's inclusive. It's not that I'm so naive I think all Americans are always welcoming of everyone. But the concept of America is open-ended enough to include anyone. Not just patriots, and not just Republicans.
posted by John Cohen at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please continue to define yourselves by the categories most useful to your overseers.
posted by aramaic at 7:32 AM on October 26, 2010


Suomalainen, but usually it is better to use relative terms and I silently identify as +1 superior to discourse.
posted by Free word order! at 7:32 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't I be a fist-pumping patriot and profoundly critical of my own country?
posted by kmz at 7:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can't I be a fist-pumping patriot and profoundly critical of my own country?

I seriously doubt it.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:36 AM on October 26, 2010


Please continue to define yourselves by the categories most useful to your overseers.

Sorry, I don't speak Lizardoid.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:36 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone recommended I do it before I went on my trip to Europe in the 80's.

My father was the sort of traveller who had extra pages in his passport and he was wary about national identification--not to the extent of lying but of not volunteering--as long as I can remember (back into the 70s). I identified as "Texan" or "native Texan" when I lived in the UK in the 80s or from "the States" to other expats. Texan was easier when Ronald Reagan was president. The offensive term to me as a teenager, which I was called because I found it annoying, was "Yank".

Now I expect I would identify as "Texan" and add "from Austin". The "I voted against Bush a lot" already has to be said in any domestic conversation where I mention I'm from Texas, so I take that as given. (If you aren't from Texas, I've voted against him more than you have.)
posted by immlass at 7:37 AM on October 26, 2010


MetaTalk might be losing the plot.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:38 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm under the impression that the overwhelming majority of Mefites are living in the USA. I scrolled through all the comments in this thread, and so far it looks this thread supports my belief.

Yeah, but to be fair, this thread was sort of framed to invite Americans to discuss their identity ("who is American and who is Usonian (or whatever favorite adjective you have). How do you identify yourself?").

FWIW, I'm Japanese, but raised in America/USA/the States, and a graduate of a Canadian university (my heart will always be in TO). And no, I don't like haggling. But that's because I'm not from Osaka, not because I'm Japanese.
posted by misozaki at 7:39 AM on October 26, 2010


I am American, Americaine, Americana, etc. Americans aren't the only ones to call Americans "Americans."
posted by naoko at 7:40 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm still Jenny from the block.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:41 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"their drinking and their pills and their weird sex games"

Our sex games our normal! Our drinking, however, is not.

I tell people I'm from Vermont and if they push I say I'm from New England. If I'm in Canada I just say "the states" and if I'm anywhere else I tend to say the US. I'm okay being an American but I'm pleased to be from Vermont.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:41 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Americans also include people who can't stand patriotism and are profoundly critical of their own country.

I am confused as to why you phrase these things in a mutually exclusive way. Being profoundly critical of the country and the machinations of the people elected to run it is, at least in my opinion, one of the clearest forms of patriotism a citizen may express.
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can't I be a fist-pumping patriot and profoundly critical of my own country?

I seriously doubt it.


I don't; I have realized that I do consider myself a patriot although for years I was pretty sure I wasn't (partially because of the perceived link between patriotism and militarism).

I am from the US and am very proud of my country because I believe so firmly in the ideals of this country. Please keep in mind that I am not a political scientist/analyst/philosopher/whatever, but these are opinions in which I believe very strongly.

I think that, in many ways, this is a country based on the premise that we can make it better. Yes, there are terrible, terrible things in my nation's past, things that can't and shouldn't be forgotten, but this is a country in which you can work to change the things that are bad and unconscionable and try to mold a nation of which we can all be proud. Freedom to petition for the redress of grievances is in the first amendment! Built into the idea of the Constitution is the belief that we can work to make things better. There are lots of things about my country that I don't like and things, past and present, of which I am deeply ashamed, but I am, as you might put it, a "fist-pumping patriot" because I think that this is a nation about which you can and even SHOULD be critical; I am a patriot because I believe so strongly in the idea of a country founded on the principle that all of us working together can build a better nation.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:45 AM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Somebody famous once said something or other along the lines of "The US is the country I love the most which is why I'm gonna be really über critical about it."

It was way more eloquent than that.
posted by sonika at 7:45 AM on October 26, 2010


Can't I be a fist-pumping patriot and profoundly critical of my own country?

I don't know, that might be tough. Go ahead and try it, though! Anyway, I didn't say they can't be the same person.
posted by John Cohen at 7:46 AM on October 26, 2010


Being profoundly critical of the country and the machinations of the people elected to run it is, at least in my opinion, one of the clearest forms of patriotism a citizen may express.

But would you call that fist-pumping patriotism? Maybe I'm just misunderstanding you, but that that sort of attitude seems pretty far from fist-pumping to me.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:46 AM on October 26, 2010


Oh, and if I had to choose which city in the States that I most identify with, then I'd choose Ocean Springs, Mississippi, where I spent the most years in one place growing up. So, hey, Gulf Coast represent!
posted by misozaki at 7:47 AM on October 26, 2010


I am American, Americaine, Americana, etc. Americans aren't the only ones to call Americans "Americans."

You know, in Iran when the mullahs hold a good-ole' fashioned flag burnin' they chant "marg bar amrika!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:50 AM on October 26, 2010


Can't I be a fist-pumping patriot and profoundly critical of my own country?

I don't know, that might be tough.


The idea that criticism of the direction of the country as a form of patriotism is the foundation of democracy. Don't like the people in charge? Destroy them (factually) in the media, without fear of reprisal then bote them right the hell out. Have a problem with some inherent aspect pf the country? Amend the constitution! Of course, realistically, it is not that simple, but the ability to correct problems is an inherent part of the democratic system, and therefore criticism is a rather valid form of loving the country.
posted by griphus at 7:50 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: I've lived abroad. I've lived in Germany and Iceland and one of the things that I absolutely fucking ADORE about the United States is that I have yet to see an immigrant have the kind of trouble making friends that I had in those places. Seriously, I LIVED THERE and couldn't manage to make friends except with other foreigners. I have never seen the kind of cold stand-offishness that I experienced directed at a foreigner in the US, and I've pretty much exclusively been in relationships with Europeans. (Oddly enough.)

My husband meets someone new and says he's from Portugal and yeah, he gets stupid questions. Really stupid questions. But well-meaning questions and no one is particularly judging him. When I lived in Europe and tried to make friends with people in my "peer group," being American was a problem because I was regarded with suspicion and people just generally weren't interested in talking to me.

Say what you will about my countrymen, but we're fucking friendly as fuck. Kinda like the big slobbery dogs of the world. I'm sorry if we don't always realize that you don't want us to hump your leg, but we just wanna be FRIENDZ!

(I am, of course, speaking of individual Americans, not the American government. Which isn't nearly as tolerant and friendly towards immigrants as most people that I know. And clearly, I don't live in Arizona. Various other disclaimers may apply.)
posted by sonika at 7:51 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


The thing is that we're trying to categorize people based on their attitudes toward "America," as if there the people who have attitude #1 toward America, and then those other people who have attitude #2 toward America, etc., and all these people are separate individuals.

I see no reason why there can't be overlap all over the place. Why can't you love America while also hating America while also being indifferent to America?

"America" is a fiction. There is no one actual, tangible thing, "America."

We use "America" to loosely bundle together hundreds of millions of people, enormous masses of land, abstract ideas, laws, statues, flags, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

There's nothing paradoxical about having one attitude toward "America" (whatever that means) while also having a wildly different attitude toward "America" (whatever that means). There is no simple, fixed object of those attitudes.
posted by John Cohen at 7:52 AM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


zarq: sorry, Wikipedia is always right and it gives either London or San Francisco ;-)

I bow in deference to the Wikipedia Overlord. :D
posted by zarq at 7:52 AM on October 26, 2010


Dammit, one of these days that Wikipedia guy is going to get something wrong, and oh how I will laugh at him.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:56 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


So when you say fist-pumping patriotism you mean "work to change the constitution," "make your country better," "criticize bad people in the media," etc. Well in that case we don't disagree. But that's a weird interpretation of "fist-pumping patriotism."
posted by Dumsnill at 7:57 AM on October 26, 2010




'strayan.
posted by Ahab at 7:59 AM on October 26, 2010


Dammit, one of these days that Wikipedia guy is going to get something wrong, and oh how I will laugh at him.

There was one time that I was browsing the List of English Monarchs and all of a sudden I noticed that sometime around the early Plantagenets, there was an English king name Disco Dave. Sadly Disco Dave's illustrious royal career ended with my next refresh.

(I know there's vandalism on Wikipedia all the time, but that's the only one I've seen live other than some well-known current event type ones.)
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


A country name generally goes "The [type of government] of [colloquial country name]." Do y'know how many countries are a "United States" type government?

The first person who tried to tell me that this country should go by "United States" instead of "America," because it's demeaning to all the other countries on both American continents, was from Argentina. So I went and looked it up. Argentina is "The United States of Argentina," how 'bout that. I pointed this out to him, and strangely never heard from him again.

The country of America happens to share its name with the continent it's on. Funny about that. It's still the country name.

Me, I'm Floridian.
posted by galadriel at 8:05 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm an American (or USian, if you prefer) in Greece. If I say I'm from the U.S., there's most often a moment of confusion while, I think, the person tries to mentally cycle quickly through countries or cities that might sound something like "Deyewess." Saying "the United States" isn't necessarily that much better*. But "America" is always perfectly and instantly understood by everyone. However, it often leads to talk of politics... so, I'm crafty. I usually say I'm from New Orleans (which isn't strictly true, but it's where I lived last, and the longest, and most identify with), which everyone knows, and which leads to pleasant talk of music and food, or sometimes Katrina, though we were already gone by that time.

* people know these terms, of course, but in spoken communication there can be uncertainty.
posted by taz at 8:07 AM on October 26, 2010


Is there another Austin that people might have heard of?

Turns out that Austin, Minnesota also has a Paramount Theater. My band was thinking of renting the Paramount a few years ago for a big shew, and I got on line to see if they had prices listed, and hit the first "Paramount Austin" Google link and thought "Hey, that's surprisingly affordable!" The Austin Texas Paramount however - not so much.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:08 AM on October 26, 2010


Point of information that blew my mind when we had this conversation earlier this year, and maybehopefully can help a little with the GRAR levels here:

-- In the United States, we learn that North America is a continent and South America is a continent. When we hear the word "America" we virtually always think of it as a shortened way of saying "the United States of America" because "America" has no separate independent meaning for most of us. So "Americans" means people from "America" means people from "the United States of America."
-- In many other parts of the world, including Latin America and parts of Europe, people learn that "America" is one continent. (That's why there are five rings on the Olympic flag-- for the five inhabited continents, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and America.) So presumably America/Americans feels like a parallel to Europe/Europeans, Africa/Africans, etc. And then although you may know that people from the United States like to be called Americans, it may come off as kind of presumptuous as well as potentially confusing-- like I might feel if I learned that people from South Africa went by "Africans" as the description of their nationality, or if the UK was "the United Kingdom of Europe" and wanted the term for UK citizens to be "Europeans."

Aside from arguments about who should be called what, I think that's just a valuable piece of knowledge to have, to help understand where others are coming from. It never occured to me that continents could be defined differently in different places.

On topic-- it actually kind of feels strange to me to identify as "I am an American," anyway. I prefer to say "I'm from the United States."
posted by EmilyClimbs at 8:09 AM on October 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Does anyone have an actual good faith example, either in print or a truthful recollection of verbal communication, where the use of "USian" instead of "American" would eliminate confusion? I am not saying the potential for confusion doesn't exist, it just seems that the likelihood of confusion is generally very very low.
posted by Falconetti at 8:11 AM on October 26, 2010


I am a British Columbian. That mean I am from "The Best Place on Earth" and would prefer to be referred to as such in the future (I will accept Best-Place-on-Earthian). If you choose not to use the word I've asked you to use, then I'll respond in kind and call you an asshole, but very politely.

Seriously, they've gone whole hog with "The Best Place on Earth" as our new provincial slogan, sticking it on everything in sight. It is acutely embarrassing for all of us.
posted by ssg at 8:12 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I still don't see what's offensive about the moniker, USian. I understand that to some it's rude, a slur, and an insult, but I don't hear it. It seems to my tiny brain a perfectly reasonable reasonable way to refer to citizens of this country -- like shorthand.

Can someone explain to me how this is a pejorative term? There's clearly something I'm not seeing here.

Then again, I didn't know that a lot of US people refer to Michigan as Militiagan until I moved away from that state. Even so, I think it's just kind of funny; I don't take offense, not being a gun-wielding freakshow myself.
posted by heyho at 8:13 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


but we're fucking friendly as fuck. Kinda like the big slobbery dogs of the world.

Man, this really threw me when I visited the US for the first time. Random people were so keen to tell you their whole life story, irrespective of whether you've earned their confidence or not. I had several curiously one-way conversations where I felt, I don't know you, so why would I tell you things about my personal life while the other person has already furnished me a pretty damn detailed bio.
posted by dhruva at 8:16 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain to me how this is a pejorative term?

Because most people that are using it are using it because they know it annoys people, not to actually avoid confusion.
posted by smackfu at 8:17 AM on October 26, 2010


I still don't see what's offensive about the moniker, USian.

It is contemptuous. The historically and, as far as I am aware, officially recognized demonym is "American." Using it is akin to telling millions of people and hundreds of years of history is wrong because they have decided so.
posted by griphus at 8:17 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Random people were so keen to tell you their whole life story, irrespective of whether you've earned their confidence or not.

You must have been visiting Oprahoma.
posted by heyho at 8:18 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not from Michigan, I'm a goddamn Michigander, and proud of it! Yes! Michigan! The feeling really is forever!

As for America being one continent? Huh? I mean, let's think about this for a second: You have two very, very large land masses, connected only by a very, very narrow strip of land, one which has actually been cut in half to create a waterway, and that's one continent? And somehow Europe and Asia are separate, though they are, in truth, part of one single landmass?

Aside from that, even FIFA recognizes the difference between North and South America, and I don't imagine you'll find many organizations less fond of America/the States/the USofA than FIFA.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:19 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


First, someone who is a MeFite him or herself posts that he or she lives in a non-US American country and calls him or herself an American...

I have never actually seen this. Sounds like the same thing though... someone smugly trying to score a cheap political point.

I have had it pointed out to me, jokingly, that Mexico is technically "Esatdos Unidos Mexicanos," but I have travelled in Mexico extensively for many, many years and have never once encountered a Mexican citizen who in all seriousness considered themselves to be "from the United States."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:19 AM on October 26, 2010


"Here's a bit of a tangent. If you're from the metro area of a large city but not the city itself, do you identify with the city? I find this usually depends on how likely my audience is to know the intricacies of the geography I'm talking about."

Oh yeah.

I wasn't born in Ann Arbor, but I moved there when I was seven. For a lot of folks, for a long time (through high school) that meant I wasn't from Ann Arbor, which is a big part of why I have really weird mixed feelings about Ann Arbor. But as I travelled around, outside of the University of Michigan, no one had heard of Ann Arbor. And I didn't go to UM (weird townie resentment there too); I went to EMU in fabulous Ypsilanti.

So, it'd be easier to say, "Detroit," even though I was 45 minutes away. And most folks outside of the states knew Detroit. "Murder techno Motown, yes? Cars?"

Yes.

Now I live in LA, but still rep as Michigan. Maybe if I'm here for ten, fifteen years, this place will be home, but for now, I still feel like a bit of an exile. At least EVERYONE knows LA. "Movies traffic sunshine, yes?"
posted by klangklangston at 8:19 AM on October 26, 2010


Not-ParmanParman-istani
posted by parmanparman at 8:20 AM on October 26, 2010


Using it is akin to telling millions of people and hundreds of years of history is wrong because they have decided so.

It reminds me of someone who calls you Scotty, even though your name is Scott, and even though you've asked them not to call you that.
posted by smackfu at 8:21 AM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


Dude! Ypsi? The Fighting Eagles! I almost went there! Had some very good friends drop out of there. Small internet.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:22 AM on October 26, 2010


But as I travelled around, outside of the University of Michigan, no one had heard of Ann Arbor.

"Rich people, The Stooges, John Blyberg, yes?"
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:23 AM on October 26, 2010


You have two very, very large land masses, connected only by a very, very narrow strip of land, one which has actually been cut in half to create a waterway, and that's one continent?

And who did the cutting?
posted by ssg at 8:23 AM on October 26, 2010


Can someone explain to me how this is a pejorative term?

It's a pejorative because most Americans don't like being called USians. There's nothing magical about the word, but it has a history of condescension, or at least it is perceived as having one by many Americans, and that's a good enough reason to avoid it.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like we've got it sorted. See you all in six weeks, when we'll give it another spin just for old times.
posted by Kwine at 8:25 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


John Blyberg

Intrestingly, he is not as famous outside of library circles as his fame inside library circles would lead you to believe. :)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 AM on October 26, 2010


Also, in Canada we sometimes call all of ya'll Americans "Yanks", even those of you who are from the non-Yankee parts of the USA. Surely that is much more offensive than "USian".
posted by ssg at 8:28 AM on October 26, 2010


I generally don't have to say where I'm from. I say, "Hi, I'm Soandso," and people smile and say, "You're from New Jersey!" Or they tell me I sound like the Sopranos.

My accent just announces me.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:29 AM on October 26, 2010


My husband meets someone new and says he's from Portugal and yeah, he gets stupid questions. Really stupid questions. But well-meaning questions and no one is particularly judging him.

This has been my experience as well. I've lived in wildly different areas of the US (South FL, NYC, Oregon), and every time I say I'm Puerto Rican I get questions (some good, some silly) but never do I get shut down or ignored. I admit I used to mind the silly questions - my favorite was "Do ya speak Latin down there?" - but at this point, I just see it as a learning opportunity rather than get upset at how little people seem to know about their country's territories. Most people are asking questions out of genuine interest, which is more than I can say I've gotten in other parts of the world.

Of course, as was mentioned earlier, the US is really, really big. Categorizing it under one umbrella (Americans are racist! Americans are ignorant!) is just...ignorant. I got a major education in that when I took a cross country trip one summer, which was basically one big circle around the US. The sheer distances shocked me, even though I knew very well that this country is big. The huge differences between regions, and in some cases even state by state, were very evident. That's when I realized that there's no one set of adjectives that would encompass the whole country. Where I'm from, lots of people assume that Americans will be racist against them if they identify as Latinos. And it might be that in isolated areas that is the case, but to be honest I have not once encountered it in the 17 years I have spent living in the US.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:30 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm from Lebanon.

It's a small town in southern Illinois.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:33 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, in Canada we sometimes call all of ya'll Americans "Yanks", even those of you who are from the non-Yankee parts of the USA. Surely that is much more offensive than "USian".

You know, I find "USian" more "offensive" -- really, just fucking annoying -- than "Yank." "Yank" exists, historically, and has since the Revolutionary days; "USian" was pulled out the collective ass of pedants with an ax to grind.
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on October 26, 2010 [14 favorites]


You must have been visiting Oprahoma.

There's a bright young writer on a chat show
and a stunning new starlet will tattle

Next up a harrowing true story of struggles so far....
and later on everyone's getting a car!
posted by The Whelk at 8:36 AM on October 26, 2010


It was bad enough when I moved from St. Paul to Minneapolis, as the former has quite the complex about being the lesser Twin City. Beyond that depends on how long I want the conversation to go.
posted by norm at 8:36 AM on October 26, 2010


Man, this is a tough question. I guess the initial response is that I'm American. But I don't really have to identify at that level very often because I've only been out of the US a handful of times, and even then it was so long ago. I probably said "I'm American" when I was in Europe and the Caribbean. That being said, I never realized that by using the term "American", I was being centric. Just never occurred to me to remember that there is a South America, a Central America and that Canada is part of North America. Wow - a light bulb moment for me, just now. Seriously.

My problem comes when people ask where I'm from. I end up answering in a TMI-sort of fashion: "Well, I was born in Florida, lived there until I was 10. Then moved to a Chicago suburb for a year. Then the family moved to Connecticut, where I stayed through high school. Went to college in Rhode Island, lived on an island on the Maine coast for a time, then after graduation, lived all over lower New York State. Ended up back in CT." For some reason, I feel the need to explain that I have lived in 3 separate regions of the USA. Not that anyone really cares, but it makes it difficult to say "where I am from" in that sense.

I consider myself a native Floridian who is stuck in New England until my son graduates high school. Then I'll probably move back to FL to live a quiet life by the water.
posted by sundrop at 8:38 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Orleanian. It's very, very different from American.
posted by honeydew at 8:39 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


New York.
Yes, New York City, not New York State.
In the actual city.
Manhattan.
Yup, it is pretty exciting/expensive/crowded/noisy.
No, I don't know how I deal with it either. Where are you from?
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:44 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I identify as a monster (a famous one).
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:44 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


New York.
Yes, New York City, not New York State.
In the actual city.
Manhattan.


I'm in Connecticut, and people still answer this way. I have heard of Astoria, you could just say that.
posted by smackfu at 8:46 AM on October 26, 2010


In all seriousness, I think the two terms ('American' and 'USian') are useful to separate the many lovely individuals that are from the USA ('Americans') and the not-so-lovely policies of the US government, hatred fostered in US churches, etc. ('USian'). It can be hard to separate criticisms of a government from criticisms of a people, but the two terms can help. It is a clunky, ugly word, but it can have a purpose.
posted by ssg at 8:49 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


US American.
posted by Night_owl at 8:54 AM on October 26, 2010


I don't think people are debating that USian can be useful, I think they're mostly saying that the word has been sullied by tons of pedants who argue that it's the ONLY acceptable word because American could also apply to Guatemala, etc. It's like people who argue about saying balustrade instead of bannister. Technically they are correct, but colloquially they are wrong. If you believe that meaning is use to some degree, USian has baggage associated with it [at least in Internetland] that many people think is inextricable from the wrd itself. That may change over time, but it's where we sit now ... glaring at each other.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: it's where we sit now ... glaring at each other.
posted by The Whelk at 9:02 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Where are you from? Who are you?

SW 23/Forget Township/Forget Range.

Now's as good a time as any to admit I am actually a Blue Heeler.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:06 AM on October 26, 2010


127.0.0.1
posted by crunchland at 9:08 AM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm a swamp yankee.

Let's have some pie!
posted by jgirl at 9:12 AM on October 26, 2010


I likewise refuse to refer to the French as "Republicans."
posted by breezeway at 9:13 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm under the impression that the overwhelming majority of Mefites are living in the USA.

The majority is a safe bet; "overwhelming" is debatably subjective since it kind of depends on what exactly you're intending to overwhelm.

We don't as far as I know have any hard figures for membership. In terms of web traffic analytics, I think the best numbers we have put the share of traffic from the US at about 75%, though again that's general traffic rather than logged-in users. There's the locational info in the google earth kml file, though I don't recall if that's up to date and it's necessarily opt-in in any case.

I pretty much always think it'd be fun to do a survey and one of these days we might get around to doing a basic demographic thing people can fill out; "where you are" and "where you're from" would both be fun questions to work into that sort of thing if it happened.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:14 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I agree that USian has a lot of negative baggage associated with it. I'm not sure that is a terrible thing in the context I am suggesting, which is mostly going to be negative.

Funny though, I have very different impression of the pedantry w/r/t/ 'USian', at least as far as MeFi is concerned. We have many MeTa posts complaining about the use of the word, but none that I can recall insisting that it is the only acceptable word. My impression is that those who use it will defend their use of it, but that it is pretty rare to read anyone arguing that we should only use the term 'USian'. I read it is a special kind of pedantry for members of one of the least-marginalized groups on the planet to insist that they must never be referred to by a name that is not of their choosing.
posted by ssg at 9:19 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


To residents of NYC, "I live in Queens", because Queens gets no love.
To residents of the rest of New York State, "I live in the city".
To residents of the rest of the country, "I'm from New York", without clarification because nobody knows there's a New York State anyway. Then I stab them, cause thats how we do.
To anyone else, "I'm from New York" as opposed to "I'm American", hopefully to signify to them that I can identify more than 3 cheeses and have no desire to bomb or invade their lovely country.

(I can't say "I am a New Yorker" because I've only lived in the city proper for 5 years and haven't earned it yet. Grew up in Westchester, but that doesn't count.)
posted by a young man in spats at 9:19 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Tell you what. I won't call myself an American, and you don't call anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line a Yankee.

I also just say "New England" or "Massachusetts." My UK friends love the whole concept of New England.
posted by theredpen at 9:20 AM on October 26, 2010


I pretty much always think it'd be fun to do a survey and one of these days --- Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 2002.
posted by crunchland at 9:21 AM on October 26, 2010


And re: 'USian' - does anyone really actually say USian? Like, out loud, in non-Internet contexts?

And, do they say it when actual Americans are present? How does that tend to go over?
posted by a young man in spats at 9:22 AM on October 26, 2010


I was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Yep, a Cornhusker by birth. Lived in Sioux Falls, Iowa as a baby. Folks moved to Montana some time after that, so we lived in both Billings and Great Falls. Then - the big move, to Spokane, Washington, where I finished high school, started college, fell in love, had babies, got married. Then we moved to LA. Then to the Last Homely Home, East of the Sea in Central California. So I guess I'm a Californian now! But I think of myself mostly as a Big Blue Marbleian, from here.
posted by Lynsey at 9:22 AM on October 26, 2010


On the old Pratchett newsgroups, the preferred term for Americans was Merkin. Which I didn't mind, cause it's just funny. (Yes, I know what it means. That's why it's funny!)
posted by kmz at 9:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Intrestingly, he is not as famous outside of library circles as his fame inside library circles would lead you to believe. :)

Heh, true...but if I add him in, it gives me three things that I know about the city...my knowledge of Ohio is basically 'OCLC, Dublin Core, outsourcing of cataloguing', which is something that really isn't interesting to any non-librarians...(believe me, I've tested this)
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2010


Human > Olympian > Northwesterner/Cascadian > American

Every time I leave the Pacific Northwest, I am swiftly reminded that it is in that climate that I feel most at home, regardless of its name on a map. I need the mountains and the verdant sogginess to feel fully at ease and I find that I connect quicker with folks who have similar portions of moss in their marrow, be they from the United States or British Columbia. Not to say I haven't become great friends with people from other regions and climates, only that when I spy folk in wool caps, longjohns and three flannels, I know I'm among my people.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm from the 'burbs.

Turn right at the Arby's, go past Bed Bath & Beyond, merge right w/ traffic going by the Discount Shoe Barn, pass the closed-down cinema (I hear they're turning it into a church), and we're the third left after the streetlights end. It's the brown house next to the one with the Trans Am parked out front.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


To anyone else, "I'm from New York" as opposed to "I'm American", hopefully to signify to them that I can identify more than 3 cheeses and have no desire to bomb or invade their lovely country.

I love this effect. To drunk Europeans in their home countries -- at least the ones I've encountered -- "I'm from New York" immediately makes you the current hottest celebrity's best friend, an impresario in the art and music scenes, and the guy you point out to your friends and excitedly yell "[FOREIGN LANGUAGE] NEW YORK [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]!"
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on October 26, 2010


And re: 'USian' - does anyone really actually say USian? Like, out loud, in non-Internet contexts?

It appears to me as an internet-arguing-only construct, which really renders this whole "debate" pointless. Who really says that out loud? How would it even be pronounsed? "Usssian? You-esssian? Oooohsian? Uuhh-sayin?"
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:35 AM on October 26, 2010


Brooklynite/New Yorker/American from a suburban city in New Jersey. I consider myself a citizen of the internet, and by extension, the world, though. The tubes, they bring us together.
posted by defenestration at 9:39 AM on October 26, 2010


To residents of NYC, "I live in Queens", because Queens gets no love.

"I live in Queens. Yes, yes, I know. But I have a backyard. And a driveway." :D
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on October 26, 2010


Earthicans represent!
posted by Mister_A at 9:50 AM on October 26, 2010


Klang, did you go to Eberwhite, i attended Dicken through 1979. I was townie, a reason (odd townie behavior could be this. example, the big ramps downtown, i parked there on visits, one day, in the ramps, i saw someone from flint i knew fom Uni. so i Say:

"what are you doing here?"
"Well I live here"
"In the parking ramp?"
(miffed, he turns away)
posted by clavdivs at 9:57 AM on October 26, 2010


Trying to identify myself beyond just "American" is tricky, since where I was born is not where I've spent the most time is not where I live right now. I've lived in Missouri, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Ohio, DC, and now Massachusetts. I'll identify as a native Missourian sometimes when on the East Coast and trying to seem distinct or interesting, but it feels dishonest since I lived there full time a total of two years of my life, at very young ages. Plus, then I have to get into debates with people about whether Missouri is the South or the Midwest - the conclusion I've reached is that nobody wants Missouri. My Alabama grandparents were deeply suspicious of my Missouri grandparents as Yankees, and my Minnesotan friends (for some reason I have a lot of them) are appalled by the suggestion that they share a region with Missourians. I spent 8 years in Virginia (longer than anywhere else), but 6 of those in an area that has a lot more in common with DC than it does, say, Roanoke, and Virginians are not always being tongue-in-cheek when they distinguish between "Northern Virginia" and "the Real Virginia." Despite not having "Real Virginia" cred, apparently I have a trace of a Southern accent (I blame my mother) that Yankees find hilarious. And there is no way in hell I'm a Bay Stater - I like it here, but these people are...different.

I suspect that, within America, people regret asking me where I'm from.
posted by naoko at 10:09 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm a born Manhattanite. Our horrible version of the "American" synecdoche thing is when someone tells me they're "from New York" and I say "Me too! Where did you go to high school" and it turns out they're from Westchester or some town on Long Island and then I have to suffer their shame because I am all empathetic and shit.
posted by nicwolff at 10:10 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time this comes up I say "USian is the Micro$oft of International Relations" and get a bunch of favorites. Well, get to it people.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:12 AM on October 26, 2010


Is two "a bunch"?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 AM on October 26, 2010


USian is the Micro$oft of International Relations

Hurf Durf... GRAR... HOPPITAMOPPITA!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2010


Plus, then I have to get into debates with people about whether Missouri is the South or the Midwest - the conclusion I've reached is that nobody wants Missouri.

I met a guy from Ohio who insisted Missouri was "the Great Plains." Have you been there, dude? There are very few plains.

I'm born and raised near Kansas City and it fascinates me how people have literally no idea where Missouri is at all, and assume Kansas City is in Kansas.
posted by something something at 10:21 AM on October 26, 2010


Can someone explain to me how this is a pejorative term? There's clearly something I'm not seeing here.

It's a term made up by a group of people NOT described by the term to describe people who really want to be called the term that they've been using for the last two hundred years.

It would be like if somebody decided that since "gay" had been used as a pejorative, we should call all gay people "Purples" or some other "more neutral" thing. It's not that the word itself is offensive in any way, and some people aren't bothered by it, but those are are bothered because we already have a name. It's solving a problem that doesn't exist, except in the minds of those who think "Americans" is imperialist.

Or, what a couple of other people said better than this rambling right here.
posted by sonika at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I married an American South Asian, and I am Indian-born and raised, but live in America (Ameerika vs. Amuhrkah) and went to college here. But I went to grad school in the UK. The defining difference between my UK and US experience? Nobody's ever called me a "dirty Paki" in the US (and the "dirty paki" business came from a guy I'm pretty sure was an Eastern European guy who was also a student at Oxford). Then again, no one in the UK asked me why I don't wear a sari everyday or why I don't have "a little red dot" on my forehead. They also didn't confront me about the caste system they learned about in anthropology class as though I were the architect and upholder of it (though the quiet math major in our dorm from China apparently was at fault for the brutalities in Tibet and not standing up against her countrymen whenever she went home for vacation).
posted by anniecat at 10:23 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a small chance luncheon meat aficionados would think of Austin, Minnesota, home of SPAM.

Well yeah, if you live in Minnesota and you say, "Oh I'm going down to Austin/to the Austin area for a few days", the default for many is you are talking Austin MN. Mind you, despite living in Duluth I know a handful of people from Austin....MN.
posted by edgeways at 10:24 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I likewise refuse to refer to the French as "Republicans."

Hijabists?
posted by anniecat at 10:25 AM on October 26, 2010


One of my favorite Onion articles, for truthiness: American Public Actually Kind of Endearing in Some Ways.
posted by sonika at 10:35 AM on October 26, 2010


"I'm not from Michigan, I'm a goddamn Michigander, and proud of it! Yes! Michigan! The feeling really is forever!"

Dude, it's Michiganian! Michigander is slander from hard drinkin' Lincoln!

"Dude! Ypsi? The Fighting Eagles! I almost went there! Had some very good friends drop out of there. Small internet."

Yeah, EMU! The Flailing Eagles! Why they didn't go with the EMU Emus, I'll never know.

"Klang, did you go to Eberwhite, i attended Dicken through 1979."

No, but I did mercilessly mock kids who went to Dick-in. I went to Bach, then MYA, then Commie High (and also Huron. I was a dualie!)
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hijabists?

Jacobins, more likely.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:38 AM on October 26, 2010


But if anyone ends up in Ypsilanti, they should buy some Ypsipanties, made by Mark Maynard who may or may not be a member here.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on October 26, 2010


"Nobody's ever called me a "dirty Paki" in the US (and the "dirty paki" business came from a guy I'm pretty sure was an Eastern European guy who was also a student at Oxford)."

The first time I hung out drinking with friends in New York, I thought they were all horribly racist for calling the party store a "packy."
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so disheartened whenever I hear stories about the term "American" having such bad connotations. Do I fully support everything the United States government does? No. I doubt there's a single American who does, since we're all so divided on so many things.

But that's exactly why I'm so proud to be from the US. The sheer amount of nationalities and cultures and languages and climates one can find here is incredible. The fact that our government is designed to change and adapt with the times. You don't have to agree with the president or support wars to love America—and that's the beauty of it. For all of its flaws, I'm happy to call the US my home.
posted by reductiondesign at 10:47 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This also reminds me of how the Romani sometimes actively refuse citizenships as a intentional political activist's statement (regarding autonomy and the nomadic lifestyle, as far as I understand and respect it) and how calling oneself a citizen of anything could be potentially offensive or foolish-sounding to a person with those priorities.
posted by kalessin at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2010


I studied Latin American Art in the 1990s and there were major issues with the term American, so I got into the habit of identifying myself (if asked while traveling) as "from the United States," rather than using the term American. It's a little unwieldy but not too horrible.
posted by kaybdc at 10:58 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm a USA!USA!USAian.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:00 AM on October 26, 2010


The first time I hung out drinking with friends in New York, I thought they were all horribly racist for calling the party store a "packy."

I came to post the same thing about moving to a group house in DC. My new roommate from Boston asked me if I wanted to go down to the "packy" to get some beer, to which I blanched and replied, "I think they're from Ethiopia, actually!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2010


The first time I hung out drinking with friends in New York, I thought they were all horribly racist for calling the party store a "packy."

Heh! Same for this Michigander moving to Massachusetts! When visiting the parents back in the Mitten recently I was impressed by the Michi-Gun store. So different, our various geographical areas!
posted by ldthomps at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2010


I'm an American. If it's relevant, "I'm an American but I didn't grow up here."
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2010


When y'all say "I'm from the Internet" or "I'm a citizen of the Internet," this is what instantly comes to mind. Just sayin'.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:03 AM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me how this is a pejorative term? There's clearly something I'm not seeing here.

"USian" isn't pejorative. It's just a handy abbreviation for people too lazy to type "American," ie most of the internet.

What's pejorative is when someone says "No, I wasn't just using it as an abbreviation! I MEAN THAT "AMERICAN" IS FOR ANYONE FROM THE AMERICAS AND YOU USIANS ARE WRONG AND BAD FOR USING IT!"

It doesn't become pejorative until the pejorative intent is established by their other statements.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:06 AM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm from Brazil, lived four years in Seattle, live in Zurich now. No strong local identity, though if I had to choose one it'd be Seattle or Sao Paulo (interestingly, the two cities where I've lived the least time), in a city-state fashion. Nation-states are just a fictitious Civ game element.

If I have to identify "ethnically", normally "brown people" does the trick (as in makes the asked uncomfortable enough to cease asking).
posted by qvantamon at 11:08 AM on October 26, 2010


As many have pointed out there are a number of other "United States" in existence. So calling us USians is mildly offensive because- it's clunky, it sounds dumb, it doesn't actually resolve the essentially nonexistant problem it claims to.

I've always called myself American. When I've travelled I've always told people I was from the United States and if they asked me to be more specific, I'd say Boston (because no one would have heard of anywhere in Western Massachusetts). To anyone out there who has pretending to be Canadian or the like, in Western Europe and Mexico at least it is NOT necessary for people to be friendly to you. If you are polite and friendly and attempt to be kind and respectful to people in those places, they are nothing but kind to you in return, has been my experience.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess, when asked, I say I live just outside of Washington DC. Everyone, everywhere, knows where that is. Before that, I'd say I lived in a suburb of New York City. Everyone, everywhere, knows where that is, too. I don't think it reflects on me, personally, at all where I live, as far as I'm concerned. I imagine people could try to divine, Sherlock Holmes style, something about me by where I have settled, but I doubt much of it would be hard-hittingly accurate. Where I have my house is not who I am. Where I shop for groceries, where I buy my clothing, where I spend my life doesn't really reflect much about me, except that I'm thankful, and luckier than the people who live in Haiti or the Sudan.

In cyberspace, it doesn't really matter where you hang your hat.
posted by crunchland at 11:09 AM on October 26, 2010


It doesn't become pejorative until the pejorative intent is established by their other statements

It doesn't matter if the person using the term is using it as a cudgel - if it is commonly interpreted as being a cudgel it is a cudgel. See: every other thread about words that upset people.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:11 AM on October 26, 2010


AskeR. Damn you, phone.
posted by qvantamon at 11:11 AM on October 26, 2010


riverrat
(runs)
Forsyhte!
(runs faster)
posted by clavdivs at 11:49 AM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


calling the party store a "packy."

On a related note, in what region(s) is a packy (fine, I'm a Bay Stater. for now.) known as a "party store"? A party store, in my mind, is where you buy balloons and paper streamers and Halloween masks and such.
posted by naoko at 12:20 PM on October 26, 2010


if it is commonly interpreted as being a cudgel more than one special snowflake thinks that all the world should cease using a commonly understood word or phrase because their delicate sensibilities are offended, it is a cudgel.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:22 PM on October 26, 2010


I thought a packy was just a liquor store?

I am a new york jew. I will occasionally go so far as to correct someone who says I am american with nyj instead, but this is mostly for my own lulz. I am also a native (south) american and the self-proclaimed Dictator-For-Life of Awesomeistan.
posted by elizardbits at 12:40 PM on October 26, 2010


I thought a packy was just a liquor store?

That's my understanding from my time in the Boston area, yeah.

On a related note, in what region(s) is a packy (fine, I'm a Bay Stater. for now.) known as a "party store"?

I hadn't heard "party store" either. Googling "party store" liquor turns up plenty of hits, almost all of which are in Michigan. I saw one each in Ohio, Chicago, and South Carolina after three or four pages of results.

Also, you can totally start your own! And here's your theme song. Never heard of ABK, are they Great Lakes area?

Here's a Serious Eats post in which the comments are largely about the use of "party store" in and (not so much) out of Michigan. Party store = corner store but with a liquor selection.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2010


I tell people I'm from California. This sends a clear message that I am ready to surf, film a movie, or cause an earthquake any time. Then I am usually asked how many movie stars I have met. I don't bother to inform people about the whole Norcal/Socal thing, and instead say: lots! Can't swing a dead cat without hitting a celebrity in Rohnert Park!
posted by supercrayon at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"On a related note, in what region(s) is a packy (fine, I'm a Bay Stater. for now.) known as a "party store"? A party store, in my mind, is where you buy balloons and paper streamers and Halloween masks and such."

Michigan, what what! Also, most of the Midwest will know what you mean. High colocation with "pop."
posted by klangklangston at 12:57 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't mind USian at all, and it always drives me nuts when people flip out about how much "Americans" hate USian. Speak for yourself.

I, for one, can't boo hoo too hard over someone calling me something on the internet out of frustration with the US. I'm fucking frustrated with this country too, and because it throws its weight around internationally, I'm not about to tell someone that THEY can't hate on the US because they're not from here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:59 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: "I thought a packy was just a liquor store? "

Yup. It's short for package store.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:02 PM on October 26, 2010


Yup. It's short for package store.
And why are liquor stores called package stores?
posted by fish tick at 1:05 PM on October 26, 2010


...because their owners were at one point typically from Packagestan?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm Dutch. I won't mind if you call me an EUian, to distinguish me from people who live in European countries that are not part of the EU. Saying 'EUian' is going to make you sound like Dory imitating a whale in Finding Nemo, though..
posted by rjs at 1:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


EUian, isn't that the Scottish name for John?
posted by klangklangston at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2010


fish tick: "And why are liquor stores called package stores"

I feel like I'm missing something, but I'll bite. The OED says "package store n. U.S. a store licensed to sell alcohol only in sealed containers." I'm presuming the sealed containers are the packages.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:15 PM on October 26, 2010


I sort of like thinking of the term "Americans" as meaning anyone from any part of North or South America. Because that would mean that David Bowie is afraid of a lot more people than I originally assumed.
posted by The World Famous at 1:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks! Never would have thought to check the OED for what seems to be a US term. D'oh.
posted by fish tick at 1:17 PM on October 26, 2010


I always assumed it was because in Massachusetts alcohol bottles are always sold in paper bags (I grew up hearing this was a law but I admit I don't know if that's true). So you walk out of the store with a plain brown paper "package." Whether it's a law or not, I have been told that I'm required to put it in a bag, they wouldn't let me walk out with an unconcealed bottle of wine for whatever reason.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:21 PM on October 26, 2010


It doesn't matter if the person using the term is using it as a cudgel - if it is commonly interpreted as being a cudgel it is a cudgel. See: every other thread about words that upset people.

Which is great, except for "commonly interpreted" means nothing. Some people think there should be a distinction between "American" and "citizen of the USA specifically", and that doesn't do me any harm. I don't necessarily agree, but it's certainly no affront to me.
posted by Phyltre at 1:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The United States of America has the fucking word America in there...

I'm AmERICan because it has my fucking name in it!
posted by ericb at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2010


So, this is kind of interesting! In addition to the cite that The corpse in the library mentions, I found an 1897 NYT article:
CHARLESTON, June 10.—The first "original-package store" for selling liquor in this State under the provisions of the recent decision of Judge Simonton of the United States Court was opened here today.
A little more googling turns up Simonton's decision in BAILEY LIQUOR CO. v. AUSTIN et al [pdf], which makes reference to "an original package store in the town of Greenwood" and "intoxicating liquors offered for sale in the original packages of importation". This is all in apparent reference to the flux in state and municipal prohibition laws near the end of the 19th century.

So it looks like "original package store" became a term of art via legal wrangling over the sale of booze in a tricky climate; and so those stores took on that name, which eventually became simply "package store" and then (OED has no cite earlier than 1982 but I wonder if the term is older or not) "packy" or "packie".
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


History of the word "American" to denote "citizen of the United States of America."
"Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."

--President George Washington || Farewell Address || 1796.
posted by ericb at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And re: 'USian' - does anyone really actually say USian? Like, out loud, in non-Internet contexts? And, do they say it when actual Americans are present? How does that tend to go over?

I heard someone (an American) do this over the weekend as they sat at a table with another American, a Canadian, a Brazilian, and a couple Europeans. I think everyone who was listening

a) blinked
b) thought "Oh, someone said that Internet-slang-word out loud. People do that now?"
c) shrugged

in that order, if they noticed at all.
posted by K.P. at 1:39 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyway, let's not have this tedious discussion again.

Exactly.
Previous related (deleted) MeFi FPP: The Internet does not solely consist of Americans.

Previous MetaTalk about the deleted thread: So it's "ranty" when a non-American calls out US behaviour, hey?
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2010


The United States of America has the fucking word America in there...

I'm AmERICan because it has my fucking name in it!


See, that's what I'm talking about, the pure rage and anger this topic dredges and the "Fuck You World" any real USian has about it.
posted by nomadicink at 1:46 PM on October 26, 2010


This thread has the same plot as O. Henry's "A Cosmopolite in a Cafe."
posted by otio at 1:46 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


this just in
ABK is apparently from Detriot.
posted by clavdivs at 1:48 PM on October 26, 2010


American. Alaskan. (ok, after only a bit over a year, maybe not yet. )
posted by leahwrenn at 1:53 PM on October 26, 2010


Am I the only person who uses USian because of Moe's sign writing?
posted by i_cola at 2:07 PM on October 26, 2010


The World Famous: “I sort of like thinking of the term "Americans" as meaning anyone from any part of North or South America. Because that would mean that David Bowie is afraid of a lot more people than I originally assumed.”

"do you remember
your prime minister chrétien?"
posted by koeselitz at 2:07 PM on October 26, 2010


for members of one of the least-marginalized groups

Funny, I thought marginalizing was bad, full-stop. Not like a "Oh, they haven't had enough yet, they could stand to be marginalized just a touch more." Kind of like poking someone in the eye. Oh, these poor dears have been poked in the eye too much. That guy hasn't been poked yet. Let's get him! Isn't the whole point that eye-poking/marginalizing is shitty, raises pretty nasty feelings in all, and just maybe, shouldn't be done, full-stop? I mean, when your rational for doing something that people object to is that you feel they haven't suffered enough, it might be time to rethink your rational.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for Michiganian, that just seems absurd. Then again, I defected to the Land O' Lincoln at 17, where I dealt with the travesty that is 'soda' and constant mocking for my use of the one, true 'pop.' Fortunately (?) I live in Japan now, and it's just called cola here. Or, more strangely, juice (pretty much anything from a vending machine seems to be called juice, even if there's no juice like product to be had).
posted by Ghidorah at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm born and raised near Kansas City and it fascinates me how people have literally no idea where Missouri is at all, and assume Kansas City is in Kansas.

That's because you are all in flyover states. No one cares.

I keed. I keed.
posted by ericb at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2010


"do you remember
your prime minister chrétien?
"

I know Canadians who thought our country was run by "President Reagan," and that was in the nineties. Some people have mental maps that are intensively detailed on the local level, but with great big blank spaces on any level they don't actively think about.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure when I started doing this but if asked where I'm from, I'll say Los Angeles; if asked what I am, I'll say Californian. I rarely refer to myself as being American, much less USian. Over the course of reading all the comments I thought about why I don't, like, am I making a statement or do I have some shame or something of that nature, but the truth is this: saying I'm from Los Angeles is self-explanatory and the easiest way to answer those kinds of questions.

Of course, I'm really from Pasadena. Which people have either never heard of, or they start talking to me about the BCS. So Angeleno it is.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2010


I tell people that I'm a Californian. No problems or confusion so far.
posted by clorox at 2:30 PM on October 26, 2010


There is actually a Kansas City, Kansas, even if it's just a suburb of KC, MO.
posted by kmz at 2:31 PM on October 26, 2010


Because I like states - not cities or nations, but states, the trusty, hard-working middlemen - I identify as a Bavarian living in California.

(Also, I think it's great that my official status is "Non-Resident Alien". That sounds much more dangerous than I really am.)
posted by The Toad at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2010


I tell people that I'm a Californian. No problems or confusion so far.

Don't forget Baja California!

I know Canadians who thought our country was run by "President Reagan," and that was in the nineties.

Silly Canadians, Reagan left office in '89. Though then again, the 80s didn't hit Canada until like '93.
posted by kmz at 2:39 PM on October 26, 2010


nomadicink:
The United States of America has the fucking word America in there...

I'm AmERICan because it has my fucking name in it!

See, that's what I'm talking about, the pure rage and anger this topic dredges and the "Fuck You World" any real USian has about it.
You might want to adjust your "humor/joke meter." Which would you prefer: a Labatts or a Budweiser? The drinks are on me tonight.

My comment was a riff on these previous comments made by (Canadian) Ouisch (above):
I could see the American thing being a big issue if Canada were actually named "Canada of the Americas" or if Mexico was "Mexico of the Americas" or if El Salvador was "El Salvador of America."

But the plain truth is, The United States of America has the fucking word America in there, and furthermore, it's the last word, and the one most amenable to being spoken of as a national identifier.

I understand that America technically comprises more than the USA. I don't think anyone above third grade has trouble with that distinction. But colloquially, we refer to people from the US as Americans because it's just easier that way.

And I'm fucking Canadian anyway, so what the shit do I care?
posted by Ouisch at 4:12 AM on October 26 [26 favorites +] [!]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorry for all the swearing; it's 4:10am here.
posted by Ouisch at 4:12 AM on October 26 [3 favorites +] [!]
posted by ericb at 2:47 PM on October 26, 2010


Not like a "Oh, they haven't had enough yet, they could stand to be marginalized just a touch more."

The point is Americans are not marginalized by any reasonable definition of the word and they aren't going to be anytime soon, no matter what people call them. Some people are claiming that a group of people (citizens/residents of the USA) should be referred to exclusively by the term of their choosing (American), with obvious parallels to the experiences of marginalized groups (e.g. Indian/Native/Aboriginal, Cripple/Retard/Disabled). I was simply pointing out that the American populace is not marginalized in the same way, so the words that are used to refer to it do not have the same power. In other words, no, I don't think USian is marginalizing.
posted by ssg at 2:49 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


...absurd. Then again, I defected to the Land O' Lincoln at 17, where I dealt with the travesty that is 'soda' and constant mocking for my use of the one, true 'pop.'

Previous MeFi FPP: The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2010


Some people are claiming that a group of people (citizens/residents of the USA) should be referred to exclusively by the term of their choosing (American), with obvious parallels to the experiences of marginalized groups (e.g. Indian/Native/Aboriginal, Cripple/Retard/Disabled).

No, it has nothing to do with being marginalized. It has to do with "This is the term we prefer." And then you saying "Well, no, I don't wanna. You're wrong." And then we're put on the defensive about a term that has been the demonym for citizens of our country for centuries and you're telling us that we're "wrong" and...well... it's a bit of an assholish move on your part to be so insistent about calling a group of people something they don't want to be called.

It's not about marginalization. It's about respect. If you want to come out and say "I have no respect for Americans, which is why I call them USians" that's your prerogative. But please don't pretend like you're doing us some kind of "favor" by inventing a "better" word. Because you're not.
posted by sonika at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010


Don't forget Baja California!

And don't you forget Baja California Sur!
posted by clorox at 3:13 PM on October 26, 2010


I don't think USian is marginalizing.

I'd be surprised if anyone thinks it's "marginalizing". Sometimes it comes off as internet shorthand but more often it comes off as whoever is speaking or writing expressing their negative feelings toward the US for the benefit of observers.

On Metafilter, I tend to figure it's half pulling the noses of US citizens and half demonstrating to people who feel contempt and disdain for the US government (and possibly US citizens) what a k3wl kid the writer is. I saw a lot of this kind of behavior when I lived abroad during the Reagan years. I'm older now and don't give as much of a damn as I did when I was an excitable teenager, so the net effect on me is not to make me feel upset or marginalized. I just roll my eyes. It's a FIAMO offense where the flag (don't bother engaging this person) is in my head.
posted by immlass at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2010


sonika, I don't actually hold the opinion you seem to be sure that I hold about the word USian. You can read my opinion upthread. I'd appreciate if you didn't ascribe all kinds of thoughts and motives to me that I certainly do not have.
posted by ssg at 3:15 PM on October 26, 2010


I'd be surprised if anyone thinks it's "marginalizing".

Err, I was responding to someone who clearly does think that.
posted by ssg at 3:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I meet someone from the Italian city of Livorno, I insist on calling their city Leghorn and referring to its residents as Leghornese. I don't do that in an effort to marginalize the Leghornese. I do it because it sounds funny.

But if I ever have the pleasure of meeting Umberto Eco, I will not refer to Bologna as Baloney.
posted by The World Famous at 3:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


ssg, I re-read your comment and I feel like the way it came across to me and how I responded to it still sync up. And so I re-read it again. Yep, still feeling like it came across the way that it did. What am I missing?
posted by sonika at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2010


Soy de Vista.

Es una ciudad en San Diego.

Sí, soy de San Diego. ¿Ah, lo has visitado?*

Sí, California.

No, no voté por Bush.

*Los españoles. Ellos siempre han visitado a San Diego--Los Angeles a veces, Mexico quizás, pero San Diego? ¡Oh sí, Sea World es magnífico!
posted by librarylis at 3:42 PM on October 26, 2010


Yo? Puro gabacho, guey.
posted by donpedro at 3:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wherever I am, I am I. Geography has nothing to do with it.
posted by Cranberry at 3:55 PM on October 26, 2010


And then you saying "Well, no, I don't wanna. You're wrong."
it's a bit of an assholish move on your part to be so insistent about calling a group of people something they don't want to be called.
But please don't pretend like you're doing us some kind of "favor" by inventing a "better" word.

This is getting silly. I don't understand where in my comment you find anything that has even a slightly similar meaning to what I have quoted from your comment here. I'm rather doubtful that you actually read my comment three times. Are you sure you aren't confusing me with someone else?
posted by ssg at 4:13 PM on October 26, 2010


ssg, seriously, I was responding to

least-marginalized groups on the planet to insist that they must never be referred to by a name that is not of their choosing.

You're the one who brought up marginalization, just as other people have mentioned the fact that they do not like to be called by something other than they wished to be called. You're acting as though, simply by virtue of being American, Americans should just 'deal' with it, because we're so awful in so many other ways, and other people have it worse, so really, it shouldn't matter.

Very basically, my name is Jeremy. Full stop. It's not Jeremiah, or any other version of the name. It's Jeremy, and it's pretty tiresome when people call me by a different name. Luckily, most of that (implying that I was a bull-frog, calling me Germy, and so on) ended when I left elementary school. Sadly, the American/USian thing is still ongoing.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2010


Interestingly, whenever I've heard someone say something derogatory about "Americans" or say that they hate "Americans" or that "America" is an evil empire or painting graffiti on a building near a U.S. military base saying "Americans go home!" or similar sentiments, I'm pretty sure those people were referring just to the United States and its people, rather than to every person in all of North, South, and Central America.

I have a hard time imagining anyone interpreting the sentiments "I hate Americans" or "I hate America" as referring to anyone other than the people of the United States.

On the other hand, I have had numerous conversations while in Europe where, upon learning that I was "American," the person I was talking to got excited and asked me if I knew their cousin who moved to America in the '50s or '60s. When I asked where their cousin moved to, it was nearly always Brazil or Argentina. But when I explained that Brazil and Argentina are not really very close to Detroit, they didn't always believe me.
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2010


And re: 'USian' - does anyone really actually say USian? Like, out loud, in non-Internet contexts? And, do they say it when actual Americans are present? How does that tend to go over?

I actually first heard the term "USian" from "American" tourists checking into the hotel I worked at. They said it sort of jokingly. I never thought it would be offensive, because...well, why would they be calling themselves "USian"? I always thought it was just a jokey short-hand kind of thing, like calling myself a "Canuck" instead of Canadian. I guess some people are really sensitive about it. I've called Americans "USians" before to their face and it was never an issue, they just laughed or agreed, so it's interesting to learn that some find it offensive.

I live on the West Coast in a very tourist area, and we are below the 49th and closer to the US than the Canadian mainland, so I don't know if that changes or influences things at all. We get a lot of US tourists and cruiseships and it's a major staple of our local economy (aside from government and, to a lesser extent, university).

I have had numerous funny interactions with tourists from the States, which involve them expecting "American" stuff. For example, many times I've had US Tourists DEMAND to get their change in "real" American money because they paid me in US funds, even though I explained to them that they're in Canada now and we deal (mainly) with Canadian money--we only accept US funds as a courtesy (and to rip them off on the exchange rate lol). I've also had people get really upset because they wanted "US" stamps to send their postcards home, and it was a real struggle to try to explain to them that they are in Canada and so they have to use Canadian stamps to send a letter back to the US. Also, people asking me if the Canadian flag comes in any other colours (WTF?).

Of course, I've also met some wonderful, friendly people who were genuinely interested in learning about local and Canadian culture, history, etc. and who were extremely warm and inviting and INTERESTING to talk to.

Re: the Canadian flags on backpacks overseas, well that's been done for MANY YEARS before 9/11 and I'm not talking about "dangerous places" for Americans to go, like the Middle East perhaps, I'm talking about France and Italy and Germany. I just think it's a funny observation. I once went on a coach tour around Europe with a lovely group of Americans and had a great time, but I told them if I saw any of them wearing Canadian flags on their stuff there'd be hell to pay (jokingly, sorta) and there were a few sheepish faces. I just think it's a bit odd and perhaps disrespectful to MY flag and MY country when people from the US pretend to be Canadian and yet they don't know our Prime Minister, National Anthem, history or culture. Just as it would be to an American if I pretended to be from the US.

I guess I just get irritated when it's a) OK for Americans to be "patriotic" but not for me to be proud of being a Canadian, and b) it's OK for Americans to wear my flag so they "don't get screwed" on prices or aren't treated poorly in foreign lands, but they are so protective of their flag and their country.

That's just my personal observations, which I'm sharing honestly with the group.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2010


This discussion is weird to me. I'm perfectly happy to accept that many Americans are offended by the term US-ian, and that's reason enough for me not to use it. But before all this became an issue on MeTa a while back, I had the same impression as 1000monkeys - that "USians" was just a cutesy new term for people from the USA. I considered myself corrected then, but have continued to notice lots of Americans using it to mean... "American". And where non-Americans here use it it's not in an apparently malicious way either. Google AskMe for the term "USian", and check the locations of the people who use it, and see. So if you think "USian" is nothing but a sneaky, spiteful way to attack Americans, who are all hurt and offended by its usage... well, I'm not sure that's decided yet.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could go either way on this one.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 5:20 PM on October 26, 2010



I could go either way on this one.
posted by Gringos Without Borders


LOL
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:45 PM on October 26, 2010


I could go either way on this one.
posted by Gringos Without Borders

LOL


Gringos Without Borders' profile || Joined: October 26, 2010 || MeFi: 0 posts , 0 comments || MetaTalk: 0 posts , 1 comment || Ask MeFi: 0 questions , 0 answers.

$5 for a one-time joke/laugh. "Same as in town."
posted by ericb at 6:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never heard the expression before and hope to never again but 'intertoobz' has 3,170 results on Google, so I probably will.
I used to be an inhabitant of the earth but now I'm not, unliteraly.
posted by unliteral at 6:18 PM on October 26, 2010


To be perfectly honest, I hate when people assume I'm American (overseas, for example). I know there is that "ugly American" stereotype, but I've met a whole lot of great Americans, including on overseas trips, and I feel kind of bad how they all get painted with the same brush. I mean, someone in France will ask if I'm American and as soon as I say I'm Canadian, it's like they're relieved. I've even been told "I knew you weren't American, vous-etes trops sympatique (you are too nice)". Yikes!

Once I was on the Luas coming back from Sandymount eavesdropping to a group from the new Microsoft campus across the way go through some excruciating getting to know you icebreaker chit-chat. They had their European tech support there, and the tram would have conversations going in a half a dozen different languages. This chat was being dominated by a rather obnoxious woman whose North American accent I couldn't quite place. She was a bit like Tracy Flick in Jennifer Love Hewitt's body; her conversation was best characterized by her repeated use of the phrase, "You know what you need to do? Okay. You need to not..."

I cannot quite express to you the feeling, like a kiss of golden nectar to the ear, to hear her launch into an extended anecdote about the boyfriend she had left back in Toronto....
posted by Diablevert at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I'm an American who lives in Canada" is how I usually say it. Which confuses both Americans and Canadians because I sound Canadian. Sometimes it's just "I'm from the States" and I usually get an "oh, okay" from that.

"USian" or other versions of it don't bother me. It says more about the person using it than it does me.
posted by deborah at 6:30 PM on October 26, 2010


Michigan, what what! Also, most of the Midwest will know what you mean. High colocation with "pop."

This is a subtle dig at my lack of Midwest cred, and thereby at Missouri's lack of Midwest cred (because I don't know "party store") isn't it? I never win. My dad calls soda "pop," if that counts for anything (but my Southern mama calls everything "Co-Cola," and I seem to have split the difference with "soda" - I would totally adopt "tonic," but it appears that no one does that anymore except for old people - a friend's grandma is the only person I've heard it from in Boston so far).
posted by naoko at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2010


I live in Queens, which is a world unto itself, and every other one, too.
posted by jonmc at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2010


Gringos Without Borders' profile || Joined: October 26, 2010 || MeFi: 0 posts , 0 comments || MetaTalk: 0 posts , 1 comment || Ask MeFi: 0 questions , 0 answers.

$5 for a one-time joke/laugh. "Same as in town."


I know it looks like it but didn't join as a joke.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 7:11 PM on October 26, 2010


Party stores takes me way back. Definitely common in Michigan, but I don't really remember them in Illinois. Then again, alcohol didn't really begin to have its way with me until I started living overseas.

I do, however, remember with fondness the drive through party store in Kalamazoo. I think it might be a carwash now, or torn down entirely. You could buy a case of beer from the comfort of your own driver's seat. It made me sad to learn that other states (Texas was one, I believe) also had drive-thru liquor stores. It seemed to be a special Michigan thing. Like Vernors.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:35 PM on October 26, 2010


Well, I've been seeing it since as far back as 1992 or 1993, so it can't be a post 9/11 State Dept thing. --- even older than that. Someone recommended I do it before I went on my trip to Europe in the 80's.

Nthed. And this always pissed me off, and I am by no means a flag-waving sort of patriot. But I am happy to explain that I am American and that no, not all Americans are like [stereotype]. Being a good example of a gracious American traveler has never done me wrong.
posted by desuetude at 7:52 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


But doesn't "Us-ian" os "USian or whatever these weird terms are connote/denote/imply USE-ian, or US and Them, or am I reading way too much into this, way too late in the discussion.

And, for the record, many US school children do not know that Canada and Mexico are part of the "Americas." Please believe me, I know.
posted by emhutchinson at 9:10 PM on October 26, 2010


And I care. More geography for everyone! Please know where you are, relative to others!
More maps, especially the topographical ones. (No offense, Google, but not yours.)
posted by emhutchinson at 9:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, for the record, many US school children do not know that Canada and Mexico are part of the "Americas." Please believe me, I know.

Yeah, I should say that the only reason I even originally brought up the whole "technically, we're all 'Americans'" bit was because of a Mexican Spanish teacher who brought it up a few years ago in university. She had called us Americans and people got a little defensive or weird about it and she explained "yes, you are all Americans, and my family in Mexico are Americans" etc. etc. And she explained to us that people in Mexico and S. America sometimes identify as Americans, too.

I don't know if that's actually the case, and it doesn't appear to be by the posts here or my own experience, but it was interesting to hear her identify as "American". I wonder if anybody else has any similar experiences, or if anybody from outside the US identifies themselves as "American" in one way or another. Perhaps it was just some weird notion that this particular woman had.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:36 PM on October 26, 2010


Oh, and for the record (so that this isn't all about hur durh Americans are stoopid): I, as a fairly intelligent Canadian, thought up until I was 18 years old that Spain was attached to, and below, Mexico. Our public education system isn't THAT much better up here, either. We spent a lot of time talking about the fur trade, the Métis, and an inordinate amount of time discussing the "War of 1812" and of course WWII, but barely any time learning the geography of other countries (beyond the continents), or other countries' history. That part I had to eventually take upon myself to learn (and am, of course, still learning).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:40 PM on October 26, 2010


im in ur base, pigeonholing ur d00ds
posted by shoesfullofdust at 9:55 PM on October 26, 2010


I know who yer PM is! He's Steven Harper and he's a doooosh. He's a smug Albertan who probably stiffly goes to the rodeo every year.

Being from Michigan, I'm pretty fucking sure I could pass as from Windsor. It ain't like you got different colored traffic lights or a secret handshake or nothin'. You just got 19-year-olds drinkin' and full-nude strip clubs (including Danny's, which a friend interviewed at) and duty-frees.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Statism runs counter to my best interest. Maybe I'm an expat. Or a resident alien. But I'll be damned if I'll allow either of those ideas to identify me. Motherfuck that shit and everything associated with it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:14 PM on October 26, 2010


Stephen Harper IS a doooosh!
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:33 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm from Vegas, baby!
posted by Jacqueline at 11:38 PM on October 26, 2010


If I am American

Is there any way to do a big anonymous Metafilter survey? Age, sex, location, income bracket, education, Mac or PC, political leanings, coffee or tea, and a bunch of other questions? I'd be curious to see the results.
posted by various at 1:34 AM on October 27, 2010


Brooklyn, baby. Flatbush.
posted by dzaz at 3:02 AM on October 27, 2010


I'm from Oregon. After I moved overseas, I used to tell people who asked me that I am from 'the States', it wasn't a conscious or political choice, just how I speak, but after so many conversations that went like this:

'Where are you from?'
'The States'
'Where?'
'The States'
'Where?'
'I'm American.'
'Oh, okay.'

I now just say I'm American, as it is obviously more widely understood. I have been told that doing so is so hurtful that if I would stop it, it would go a long ways towards making reparations towards all the people my country has screwed over. I never realized that I had such power at my disposal!

Australians referred to me as a yank or a seppo. Now I live in Mexico, and everyone usually just refers to me as guera, but sometimes americana or norteamericana. Yes, Mexico is technically in North America, but norteamericanos are Canadians or Americans. Isn't language fun?
posted by toodles at 7:26 AM on October 27, 2010


Is there any way to do a big anonymous Metafilter survey?

That's more or less what I have in mind, yeah. Or, rather, being identified would be opt-in. Sort of thing where we'd need to track participation-or-not on the back end to keep it from being abused, probably, but no disclosure of any identification without explicit consent from the individual survey taker, yadda yadda.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on October 27, 2010


I'm Australian. Could narrow it down further, but haven't really found it necessary either at home or abroad. There's not enough regional variation across the continent to make it useful, most of the time.
posted by harriet vane at 7:51 AM on October 27, 2010


I fucking hate memes. ESPECIALLY usian.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:38 AM on October 27, 2010


Dude, I don't like memes either, but I find it extremely odd that even though you've declared your semi-retirement from Metafilter in your profile, you still find time to drop that same tired line in every thread you can.
posted by gman at 9:43 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


> ESPECIALLY usian.

I can't help but remember this and snicker.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:46 AM on October 27, 2010 [6 favorites]



Is there any way to do a big anonymous Metafilter survey? Age, sex, location, income bracket, education, Mac or PC, political leanings, coffee or tea, and a bunch of other questions? I'd be curious to see the results.


Well, you could just create one of those survey thingies and post the link on MeTa (after obtaining mod/Matt's permission, of course). I can't remember the site, but it's the one that all the grad students that do studies of online communities use. You would have to ensure that it is really well-designed and there might be difficulties in ensuring that the people who answer the questions are actual MetaFilter members and only answer once. Or maybe since it's not a scientific study, you could just post it and hope people answer it in good faith.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:20 AM on October 27, 2010


pb has actually rolled a couple of native surveys for us in the last year or so, which is far preferable from a basic logistics perspective because it means we have full control of the presentation, don't have to deal with either service fees or limitations, and don't have to worry about putting people's answers in the hands of a third party.

So if something like this were to happen, I think it'd make the most sense (and know for sure that we'd be most comfortable and I think most mefites would as well) with it being an on-site thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:29 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know I'm new, and I figure I'm not representative, but I actually did an online community participation survey for a grad student friend today. And it wasn't anonymous. This place got mentioned a lot (as did a whole lot of household appliance and cookware collecting boards and groups for which I care a whole lot less than this site.). So hell yeah, I'd be in.
posted by Ahab at 12:17 PM on October 27, 2010


cortex: Cool! I didn't know MetaFilter had those capabilities, that would certainly be the best way to handle it, I think.
posted by 1000monkeys at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2010


As someone who grew up in upstate New York, and who currently lives in what I call downstate New York, there are few things that piss me off more than when somebody from NYC tells me they are from New York. I always ask, rather more snidely than is reasonable, 'oh, what part of the state are you from?' In fact, I once got in a fight with a college roommate because she called NYC New York instead of NYC. There is a whole 'nother part of the state, people. And it is HUGE. I lived six hours from the city and I was really only technically in central NY to those people up in Potsdam.

Damn, yo. Stop acting like NYC is the ONLY thing that exists in the state of New York.

Fully aware of how ridiculous this is, yes. City folk, grumble grumble. ;)
posted by rosethorn at 1:49 PM on October 27, 2010


The part of New York that isn't NYC is actually called "Upstate", not "New York", so I can see where you'd get confused.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:21 PM on October 27, 2010


What about Suffolk County?
posted by crunchland at 6:25 PM on October 27, 2010


Longisland (one word)
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:53 PM on October 27, 2010


I found evidence of an American differentiating themselves as "US Americans" if that helps.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:11 PM on October 27, 2010


Another Oregonian living in a foreign land. Je suis Américaine. First reaction — and I've lived a total of 11 years in France now (1 in Lyon, 10 in Nice), this reaction hasn't ever changed: "But you don't have an accent!!!" I do, they just haven't talked to me long enough to be able to hear my weird Provençalish-Oregonian vowels. Second question: "Where in the US?"
Me: "Oregon."
Other: *blank stare*
Me: "It's on the west coast."
Other: "Oh." *blank stare*
Me: "North of California."
Other: "OHHHH! Wow! That is so neat! It must be really warm there! Do you go surfing often?"
No, it rains a lot on the mountain half, there's a high desert on the eastern half, you can get killed by the Pacific's freezing riptides and we learn this when we're six (tho I do have friends who surf), and I've seen bears (up close, ack) and cougars (from afar, thankfully) and elk and moose — they especially love the bear stories. I always have to explain what an "elk" is. For them there are "deer" and "moose" and this "elk" thing needs clarification.

(Note the distinct lack of any aggressivity, accusations, or coldness. In France. For 11 years now. Openly identfying myself as American, being gracious and kind.)
posted by fraula at 2:18 AM on October 28, 2010


Je suis Américaine.

Pretty sure you don't need a majuscule there.
posted by Wolof at 3:11 AM on October 28, 2010


I'm from the land of silicone implants that cannot express milk and honey flavored high fructose corn syrup.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:12 PM on October 28, 2010


Another Oregonian living in a foreign land.

Try saying that you are from Washington. "No, not Washington DC. North of Oregon... Well, north of California... Yes, north of LA!" You will start saying you are from Oregon, just to make things simple, and then eventually you will make something up that is totally false but is even easier to understand.

Don't ask how I know.
posted by Forktine at 10:01 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forktine - My usual solution to the Washington thing is to lead with the name of the city, then explain it's proximity to Seattle if need be.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:06 AM on October 29, 2010


I can't begin to count the number of Americans I have met here in Europe who say they are from New York but, when pressed, admit they are from New Jersey.
posted by vacapinta at 9:49 AM on October 29, 2010


I can't begin to count the number of Americans I have met here in Europe who say they are from New York but, when pressed, admit they are from New Jersey.

I'm from Vermont and live in Rhode Island and I can't count the number of times I've been in Europe and been asked where in the US I'm from and I answer with one of those and get asked "Oh, is that in New York?"

No, but I give 'em credit for trying. I probably know less about European geography than they do about the US if they can at least grok that the New England states *could* be in New York.
posted by sonika at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2010


when pressed, admit they are from New Jersey.

This is very common. My mother grew up in suburban New Jersey and would tell everyone she met that she was "from New York." This used to drive hyper-literal me NUTS because she basically never lived in NYC, though I think she may have been born there. She said it was easy shorthand because most people had heard of New York, but I think she was also maybe putting on airs a bit. This is a debate we have to this day.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:36 PM on October 29, 2010


I've known people from northwest Indiana refer to themselves as being from Chicago.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I bet, when you get right down to it, no one really wants to admit they're from New Jersey.
posted by crunchland at 12:58 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think people from the 'burbs "round up" to the next largest urban area a lot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:07 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know why I remember idiotic stuff like this, but I do: Years and years ago, like at least twenty years ago, I used to read everything in the paper including Ann Landers, and she once had a hilarious, prissy letter from somebody who said (paraphrasing), "Dear Ann, Whenever people ask me where I'm from, I say, 'I'm from New York.' They always respond by talking about how crowded and noisy New York is, the cabbies are terrible, the people are rude, and everything is so expensive. I am not from New York City. It drives me crazy that people automatically assume that I am. Please tell your readers* that there is more to the State of New York than just that one big city everyone always talks about." And Ann Landers responded with (paraphrasing): "WHERE ARE YOU FROM? Albany? Schenectady? Utica? Poughkeepsie? Ithaca? You wouldn't have this problem if you would just tell people what city you're from."

*People were always telling Ann Landers to tell her readers something, and usually she responded with a chipper, "I don't have to tell them anything -- you just did a fine job of that yourself!"
posted by Gator at 2:05 PM on October 29, 2010


I think people from the 'burbs "round up" to the next largest urban area a lot.

Or the opposite.

When travelling, touts often come up with an annoying "Where you from? Oh, Australia! Sydney? Melbooarn?"

Not wanting to be too predictable, I started answering "Canberra" to throw them off, because normally nobody has ever heard of the capital. Annoyingly, I found that the occasional tout had actually heard of it, so I started going further afield to random little country towns: Coonabarabran, Bong Bong, Wangaratta, Humpty Doo.

"Oh, Humpydoo! Nice place! I have good friend live Humpdoody! Say, you want to visit my brother in his carpet shop?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:21 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes! Coonabarabran! I have many relatives there!

Now you come to Siding Spring Observatory. Buy nice telescope! Also come Miniland. Buy finest quality prehistoric dinosaur snow dome!

(Serious. Coonabarabran rocks.)
posted by Ahab at 8:51 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Australian towns have the best names. I have a friend who lives in Mermaid Waters! Mermaid Waters! I didn't even know where that is other than I feel awesome whenever I send her mail to MERMAID WATERS, AUSTRALIA!
posted by sonika at 7:50 AM on October 30, 2010




I live in Dog Swamp.

Immediately after WWII, when the suburb was being built, no-one was too happy about the name. They changed it to Yokine. Which is supposed to be local dialect for.. Dog (or Dingo) Swamp. But lots of folk are still quite proud of the name, and we still have the Dog Swamp Shopping Centre, The Dog Swamp Lawn Bowls Club, The Dog Swamp Vet, and Dog Swamp itself.

Sadly, the Dog Swamp Sailing Club folded when they most of the swamp was drained to build the shopping centre. Swamp sailing is the best kind.

posted by Ahab at 8:17 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good grief, is that why I never hear Dog Swamp jokes anymore? I had no idea. Are the people from Innaloo jealous that they didn't get to change their suburb name too?

I had an American friend who thought "Perth" sounded like an awesome sci-fi planet/ship/moon/person name. I didn't have the heart to tell her we ripped it off from Scotland.
posted by harriet vane at 6:22 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Manly, apparently so-called because Capt. Arthur Phillip (governor of the first European colony in Australia) said that the natives looked very.... manly.

And Dijabringabeeralong which is a fake place in a fake Australia but should be a real place name.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:36 AM on November 2, 2010


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