Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ameican* (for American*)

Hope you had a nice Independence Day, my fellow librarians who are also Americans. You know who you are. Or do you? I have a good friend with a pet peeve. He hates the way people from the United States are called "Americans." He regards it as a slight to Central and South America. As he rightly points out, we're not even the only country in North America, sharing the continent with Mexico, Canada, and Greenland. It strikes me as somewhat similar to terming everyone from the former USSR "Russians"; a much better word would be "Soviets." The problem with applying this analogy to Americans, however, is that there's no ready substitute to denote people who live in the United States. We could try saying "U.S. Americans" to mean the people, but then you've got all those adjectival forms: "the American way"; "the American flag"; "American as apple pie"; etc. And somehow, I just can't imagine something like "United Statesian" or "United Stateser" ever quite catching on. ("USer" might be a little too on the nose.) So once again, American "exceptionalism" (linguistically speaking, anyway) may rule the day. Today's typo was discovered 23 times in OhioLINK, and 504 times in WorldCat.

(Rosa "Miss All American Beauty," Maria Callas rose, 1965, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

No comments: