Names of Nations

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Names of Nations

Postby MFHodge » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:10 pm UTC

That big country right in the middle of Europe - I call it Germany, because I speak English. Someone who lives there probably calls it Deutschland. Someone in Spain probably calls it Alemania. Three very different words for the same place.

But why? The official name for the country is Bundesrepublik Deutschland. English speakers are certainly capable of calling the country by it's proper name, or at least a closely related anglicized version. Dutchland, perhaps.

Italia becomes the anglicized Italy. No objections.
España becomes Spain. We're stretching a little here. Why not Espanya?

The coutry of Côte d'Ivoire has requested that it no longer be called Ivory Coast. Is it time for other nations to make similar requests?
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Postby Clerria » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:20 pm UTC

Because Germany is an English word, and we're speaking English.

I know what you mean, though. I do have the same problem... however, it's too much to ask most people to relabel what you've been taught since 1st grade.

I have a similar issue with language names. You don't speak of the deutsch language because you're speaking* english when you're talking about it, so you use the english word, 'german' ... Same for persian. When I'm speaking in English, I will use the word Persian because it's an English word, but if I reference it in Persian, it would be "Farsi"

Not much to be done about it, but you can draw a distinction between using the English vocabulary word for what you're referencing, strictly because you're speakign English when talking about it, even if you know it's not the official name in its original language.

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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:30 pm UTC

Clerria wrote:Because Germany is an English word, and we're speaking English.

I know what you mean, though. I do have the same problem... however, it's too much to ask most people to relabel what you've been taught since 1st grade.

I have a similar issue with language names. You don't speak of the deutsch language because you're speaking* english when you're talking about it, so you use the english word, 'german' ... Same for persian. When I'm speaking in English, I will use the word Persian because it's an English word, but if I reference it in Persian, it would be "Farsi"

Not much to be done about it, but you can draw a distinction between using the English vocabulary word for what you're referencing, strictly because you're speakign English when talking about it, even if you know it's not the official name in its original language.


So do you call Myanmar Burma then?

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Postby MFHodge » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:41 pm UTC

I'll agree with you in certain circumstances. In Spanish, the United States of Americais called Los Estados Unidos. The words have definite meaning and can be translated without a loss of meaning. Names are words that have no meaning except to represent an entity.

QED

The Italy / Italia example, I think, agrees with the idea of "speaking English", because it uses English-style pronounciation for the Italian word. But what does it mean to say that Germany is an English word? I guess what I disagree with is the sense that the English language is entitled to "create" a name for something.

(I'm mostly playing Devil's Advocate. I don't really believe that it is wrong to use English words, I just think it's a bit strange that we do.)

Also, if someone asked me what language is most commonly used in Iran, I would answer Farsi. I actually didn't even realize that it was commonly refered to as Persian.
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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:42 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:
Also, if someone asked me what language is most commonly used in Iran, I would answer Farsi. I actually didn't even realize that it was commonly refered to as Persian.


Most people I've met from Iran call it Persian. They also refer to themselves as Persian, instead of say Iranian.

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Postby MFHodge » Mon Sep 10, 2007 2:52 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
VTHodge wrote:Also, if someone asked me what language is most commonly used in Iran, I would answer Farsi. I actually didn't even realize that it was commonly refered to as Persian.

Most people I've met from Iran call it Persian. They also refer to themselves as Persian, instead of say Iranian.

Interesting . . . the first time I ever heard of Farsi is when I met a girl from Iran and asked what language she spoke with her parents. She said Farsi and it stuck in my head.
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Postby gmalivuk » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:11 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:The Italy / Italia example, I think, agrees with the idea of "speaking English", because it uses English-style pronounciation for the Italian word.


I would say the same about Spain/España and Spanish/español. The first comes from the fact that the majority of words in Spanish beginning esp- or est- or esc- have English cognates that lack the initial vowel. (escuela for "school", estado for "state", España for "Spain"). The second (Spanish vs. español) then basically comes from the various rules in each language for forming an adjective out of a nationality.

VTHodge wrote:But what does it mean to say that Germany is an English word? I guess what I disagree with is the sense that the English language is entitled to "create" a name for something.


But every language does that for some things. Very often it's not as if one language is simply "making up" a name for the other country/language/whatever, but rather there's a great deal of linguistic history behind it.
"German" comes from the writings of Julius Caesar, who used Germani to designate a group of tribes in northeastern Gaul.
Our words "Teuton" and "Dutch", and the German Deutsch, come from the name of a tribe that inhabited coastal Germany and devastated Gaul 113-101 B.C.E.
The Spanish and French words for Germans come from "Alemanni", the name of a Suebic tribe or confederation that settled in Alsace and part of Switzerland.

[Source]
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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:19 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
But every language does that for some things. Very often it's not as if one language is simply "making up" a name for the other country/language/whatever, but rather there's a great deal of linguistic history behind it.
"German" comes from the writings of Julius Caesar, who used Germani to designate a group of tribes in northeastern Gaul.
Our words "Teuton" and "Dutch", and the German Deutsch, come from the name of a tribe that inhabited coastal Germany and devastated Gaul 113-101 B.C.E.
The Spanish and French words for Germans come from "Alemanni", the name of a Suebic tribe or confederation that settled in Alsace and part of Switzerland.

[Source]


So this all comes down to Germany not having really been a country until somewhat recently, and all these words are just referring to different people that eventually united to become German?

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Postby gmalivuk » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:25 pm UTC

Yeah, pretty much. You can't exactly expect other languages to be unanimous on how to refer to a country that didn't even exist as a unified thing until less than two hundred years ago.
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Postby MFHodge » Mon Sep 10, 2007 3:44 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:But every language does that for some things. Very often it's not as if one language is simply "making up" a name for the other country/language/whatever, but rather there's a great deal of linguistic history behind it.
"German" comes from the writings of Julius Caesar, who used Germani to designate a group of tribes in northeastern Gaul.
Our words "Teuton" and "Dutch", and the German Deutsch, come from the name of a tribe that inhabited coastal Germany and devastated Gaul 113-101 B.C.E.
The Spanish and French words for Germans come from "Alemanni", the name of a Suebic tribe or confederation that settled in Alsace and part of Switzerland.


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Postby Clerria » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:07 pm UTC

<- minored in Persian and used to be an officer in an Iranian culture group ; P I had many persian friends, and it's true, that a lot of people do refer to it as Farsi, (whether they are American or Persian, or Iranian). But my Linguistics logic clearly defines "persian" as an english word and "farsi" as a persian word, so I have to agree that it makes sense to refer to it in English, despite wanting to call it Farsi.

BUT... that doesn't mean I don't wish I could shove my language skillz around on people who don't know foreign words.

Think about French. They're so uppity about preserving their natural language that they created an entirely new word for new technology (computer = l'ordinateur, correct?) instead of borrowing it from English. The uppity gate swings both ways.

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Postby gmalivuk » Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:24 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:Greg Malivuk® - Being better than you at quickly finding shit out on the Internet since 1997


fixed. Or, perhaps not so much fixed in general, but at least for this particular case.

(I vaguely knew, from asking my Spanish teacher back in 8th grade or so, that Alemania came from some specific tribe's name, but it wasn't until just now, looking at that etymology dictionary (which, like xkcd, is a site I look at so often there's no need at all to ever bookmark it), that I discovered the rests.)

This is why an internal Internet connection would be awesome. I'm already good at faking knowledge in online communication, and that would make it possible for in-person conversations as well.
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Postby zenten » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:29 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
VTHodge wrote:Greg Malivuk® - Being better than you at quickly finding shit out on the Internet since 1997


fixed. Or, perhaps not so much fixed in general, but at least for this particular case.

(I vaguely knew, from asking my Spanish teacher back in 8th grade or so, that Alemania came from some specific tribe's name, but it wasn't until just now, looking at that etymology dictionary (which, like xkcd, is a site I look at so often there's no need at all to ever bookmark it), that I discovered the rests.)

This is why an internal Internet connection would be awesome. I'm already good at faking knowledge in online communication, and that would make it possible for in-person conversations as well.


Yeah, but think of the spam/viruses.

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Postby tasteslikechikan » Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

Does it really matter? Some country names and Ethnicities come from completelyincorrect labels anyways. India is called India for the "Indus" river, and people who lived around it were called Hindus by the Persians, (or maybe Iranians), because Farsi tends to put in aspirants where there aren't any. Does that mean we should cease calling India, "India", or adopt Sanatana Dharma instead of Hinduism? This doesn't even mention the debate of Indian vs. Native American It's probably a good thing if you name a country correctly when you're speaking its language, but otherwise things would just be cumbersome. Instead of "estados unidos", Spanish speakers would be reversing the word order just for us to say, "United States".

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Postby joeframbach » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:10 pm UTC

What if I introduced myself to somebody who is unfamiliar with the name "Joseph," and they totally ignore me.
"Call me Joseph! J-O-S-E-P-H!"
"Hmm, I think I'll call you... Yakataniba*"
"But my NAME is JOSEPH!"
"Pleased to meet you, Yakataniba!"

*completely made-up.

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Postby MFHodge » Mon Sep 10, 2007 8:14 pm UTC

joeframbach wrote:What if I introduced myself to somebody who is unfamiliar with the name "Joseph," and they totally ignore me.

That would be completely unacceptable . . . unless they declare your new name to be a part of their language. Then it's OK.
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Postby gmalivuk » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:02 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:
joeframbach wrote:What if I introduced myself to somebody who is unfamiliar with the name "Joseph," and they totally ignore me.

That would be completely unacceptable . . . unless they declare your new name to be a part of their language. Then it's OK.


Names have analogues in various languages, too, though *generally* more along the Italy/Italia thing than the German/Deutsch thing. But not always.

For instance, San Diego or Santiago, in Spanish, refers to the same person Saint James refers to in English.
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Postby Clerria » Mon Sep 10, 2007 9:29 pm UTC

Why do you think so many Chinese people in particular choose English names that somewhat correspond to their actual name? (Besides obvious butchering)

yi-ran = ron
te-hann = tim

Those are the only 2 real examples I can think of, but I know tons of people do it, because I've spoken to many in this same situation. Mostly kids (18-24) who were born here but whose parents moved here.

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Postby Phenriz » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:19 pm UTC

a few ladies i work with do this, they were all born in china or taiwan. (only the ones in office positions, the ones that don't speak english so well keep their given names)

I think i would be too proud to change my name at first, but after a year or so i'd eventually adopt a name that i feel fit, of whatever language/culture i'd be guest too.
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Postby SpitValve » Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:33 pm UTC

Clerria wrote:Why do you think so many Chinese people in particular choose English names that somewhat correspond to their actual name? (Besides obvious butchering)

yi-ran = ron
te-hann = tim

Those are the only 2 real examples I can think of, but I know tons of people do it, because I've spoken to many in this same situation. Mostly kids (18-24) who were born here but whose parents moved here.


Often the name has nothing to do with their Chinese name...

The capital city of Thailand is Bangkok in English and Krung Tep in Thai. Bangkok is a region in the city, I think. Krung Thep is actually the first two words of the full name, which is "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit", which Wikipedia tells me means "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam"

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Postby Clerria » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:23 pm UTC

Ah yes, I remember that. I used to work with a really sweet Thai guy who we would always pester to tell us the official name, and he would sigh and take a deep breath...

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Postby ThorFluff » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:13 pm UTC

hehe want to know some viking imprints in this world?

Ros=Rose
Roser=A people known for thier rosy cheeks
Roslagen= An Island in sweden.
Routsi= Finnish for Swedes.
Ryss=Old Russian for Swede
Ryssland=Russia in swedish, Litruary means "Land of the swedes"

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Postby Khonsu » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:36 pm UTC

But Russians are Slavic, not Scandinavian--supposedly. Or are they closer than I thought? Shit, Scandinavians, Russians (and surrounding new countries since the USSR fell), Poles, and Germans are all closely related. Fucking Partition. Poles lost all their land for a long time. I know Poles hate Germans sometimes, but I know they hate Russians EVEN MORE. Scandinavians don't seem to like Slavs much, which I find funny because Scandinavians are just the descendents of the Vikings, who pretty much dropped trou and raped all of Europe for a while, so the family lines are definitely crossed.

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Postby demon » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:01 am UTC

Khonsu wrote:But Russians are Slavic, not Scandinavian--supposedly. Or are they closer than I thought? Shit, Scandinavians, Russians (and surrounding new countries since the USSR fell), Poles, and Germans are all closely related. Fucking Partition. Poles lost all their land for a long time. I know Poles hate Germans sometimes, but I know they hate Russians EVEN MORE. Scandinavians don't seem to like Slavs much, which I find funny because Scandinavians are just the descendents of the Vikings, who pretty much dropped trou and raped all of Europe for a while, so the family lines are definitely crossed.


The hate thing - it's really hurtful, actually. And it's just so very hard not to sound emo about it. The worst part is that there seems to be no motion to change, despite all sides' apparent efforts. If you raise a kid with no prejudice towards the Germans for example, and then he meets one who rants about "stupid Poles", it's *quite* hard not to start hating the whole nation. But I certainly believe that jackasses will wither with time and we'll be able to stop this nonsense. The Russians I met didn't really show this kind of attitude. The Russian leaders, however, seem to hate our leaders. But they have pretty good reasons, I admit. Oh, and raping somebody is not the best sign of affection, so it isn't that surprising.

Now, on to proper name translations. With the roman languages basically defining commonly recognized names, employing some local versions can cause mass confusion. This is really apparent with the Slavic languages. Czech and Slovak are very similar and they would seem to be very similar to Polish. The reality is quite different, however, because Polish employs a boatload of loan-words while Czech and Slovak both use original words. In result, you hear familiar syllables but have no bloody idea what they mean. Unless somebody tries to be clear or waves his hands a bit, which works miracles:D Polish has some strange-sounding nation names, though. Germany - "Niemcy", Italy - "Włochy" are prime examples.

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Postby ThorFluff » Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:04 am UTC

Khonsu wrote:But Russians are Slavic, not Scandinavian--supposedly. Or are they closer than I thought? Shit, Scandinavians, Russians (and surrounding new countries since the USSR fell), Poles, and Germans are all closely related. Fucking Partition. Poles lost all their land for a long time. I know Poles hate Germans sometimes, but I know they hate Russians EVEN MORE. Scandinavians don't seem to like Slavs much, which I find funny because Scandinavians are just the descendents of the Vikings, who pretty much dropped trou and raped all of Europe for a while, so the family lines are definitely crossed.


I can't pinpoint the place or time in history, but at some point a collection of slavic towns asked the vikings (whom were mostly trading anyway) if they could stay and rule them. This was because they'd heard how the viking homelands flourished, and the few towns founded by vikings did too.
Though this occurance as a "one big event thing" is probably mostly mythical, similar events must have happend spread over a longer period.

An yeah, alot of the central eurpoean nations have alot of recentment towards eachother, being at war with one another for (excluding the last 60 years) the better parts of a thousand years can do that.
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Re: Names of Nations

Postby The_Spectre » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:35 pm UTC

VTHodge wrote:But why? The official name for the country is Bundesrepublik Deutschland. English speakers are certainly capable of calling the country by it's proper name, or at least a closely related anglicized version. Dutchland, perhaps.

Using "Dutchland" in a serious way is a pretty bad idea. You could mean either Germany or the land where Dutch people live (the Netherlands). And no, they are not the same.

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Postby demon » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:41 pm UTC

Yeah, well the last Partition of Poland was in 1795, the first one in 1772. And the one of the first battles between Poland and Germany would probably be Cedynia... 972? And most likely there were fights between tribes earlier on. But this was so long ago that it would be rather absurd to pin the current resentments on those events. The Partitions can be quite reasonably considered as the spark of the neighbour-hating that goes on till this day - Poland was nonexistent between 1795 and 1918, then had 21 years of peace, then disappeared from the maps for another 5 years and then came under Russian influence which lasted till... 1989, right? The Partitions didn't come out of no-where though, the neighbouring powers worked for years to arrange them. The only reason I can find for particularly disliking Germany and Russia is that they were successful in their conquests. The Swedes, for example, basically conquered northern Europe in the 17 century, but it only lasted a couple of years and they didn't really try again.

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Postby ThorFluff » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:42 pm UTC

"Dutchland", as the lands were the dutche resides is called Holland (by the dutch) by the way

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Postby Token » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:36 pm UTC

ThorFluff wrote:"Dutchland", as the lands were the dutche resides is called Holland (by the dutch) by the way

I know one or two Dutch people, and I'm pretty sure they only call it Holland because they're sick of explaining the name to ignorant English speakers. The actual name of the country in Dutch is Nederland. North and South Holland are provinces within the Netherlands.

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Postby ThorFluff » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:39 pm UTC

Yeah i know that. in swedish the Official name is "Nederländerna", ie the Nederlands, But "Holland" is more Nederlanskt then "Dutch" right? :P

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Postby Cai » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:44 pm UTC

It's a bit irritating when USA is referred to as just being 'America', because really, America refers to the whole continental landmass. It should really be used like saying someone is 'European'.
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Postby SpitValve » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:54 pm UTC

I do find it weird that America is smaller than North America. Usually adding an adjective makes things more exclusive...

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Postby ThorFluff » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:19 pm UTC

Thats why i call "Americans" Yanks and always refer to both the southern and northen continetns when i'm saying america!

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Postby Phenriz » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:45 pm UTC

Cai wrote:It's a bit irritating when USA is referred to as just being 'America', because really, America refers to the whole continental landmass. It should really be used like saying someone is 'European'.


You can blame that on the brits, or whomever in europe decided to start calling those of us from the USA "Americans".
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Postby Clerria » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:02 pm UTC

Oh I get it, so when they say "Marg bar Amrika" they're talking about those South American bastards.

It was so obvious!

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Postby MFHodge » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:08 pm UTC

Token wrote:
ThorFluff wrote:"Dutchland", as the lands were the dutche resides is called Holland (by the dutch) by the way

I know one or two Dutch people, and I'm pretty sure they only call it Holland because they're sick of explaining the name to ignorant English speakers. The actual name of the country in Dutch is Nederland. North and South Holland are provinces within the Netherlands.

I asked a man from Holland what the difference between "Netherlands" and "Holland" was and he said he wasn't sure.
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Postby gmalivuk » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:09 pm UTC

Phenriz wrote:
Cai wrote:It's a bit irritating when USA is referred to as just being 'America', because really, America refers to the whole continental landmass. It should really be used like saying someone is 'European'.


You can blame that on the brits, or whomever in europe decided to start calling those of us from the USA "Americans".


Yeah. I, for one, never refer to myself as just American, which has actually confused some people. ("Why do you say you're from the United States instead of just saying you're from America?" to which I responded, "Well, considering we're still in America right now [this being Mexico], I figure it would be stupid to be so nonspecific.")

VTHodge wrote:
Token wrote:
ThorFluff wrote:"Dutchland", as the lands were the dutche resides is called Holland (by the dutch) by the way

I know one or two Dutch people, and I'm pretty sure they only call it Holland because they're sick of explaining the name to ignorant English speakers. The actual name of the country in Dutch is Nederland. North and South Holland are provinces within the Netherlands.

I asked a man from Holland what the difference between "Netherlands" and "Holland" was and he said he wasn't sure.


From the same dictionary I in my response about Germany. One would think a few of you could click on the link I so considerately provided...

Holland: from Old Dutch holt lant "wood land," describing the district around Dordrecht, the nucleus of Holland. Technically, just one province of the Netherlands, but extended to the whole nation.
The Netherlands formerly included Flanders and thus were equivalent geographically and etymologically to the Low Countries.

I already explained "Dutch" in my first post.
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Cassi
Posts: 1950
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:53 pm UTC
Location: England.

Postby Cassi » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:22 pm UTC

ThorFluff wrote:Thats why i call "Americans" Yanks and always refer to both the southern and northen continetns when i'm saying america!


One of these days you may find yourself getting a bit of a rant from a Southerner...

The whole "American" thing always annoys me, but there isn't really a better word...I tend to just say "I'm from the States", which is clearer.

As far as "Yank" goes, it tends to be a bit derogatory...if it's from a friend and said jokingly, it doesn't bother me, but I really don't like it from strangers.

Token
Posts: 1481
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:07 pm UTC
Location: London

Postby Token » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:25 pm UTC

Phenriz wrote:
Cai wrote:It's a bit irritating when USA is referred to as just being 'America', because really, America refers to the whole continental landmass. It should really be used like saying someone is 'European'.


You can blame that on the brits, or whomever in europe decided to start calling those of us from the USA "Americans".

And what noun do YOU use to refer to yourselves?

VTHodge wrote:
Token wrote:
ThorFluff wrote:"Dutchland", as the lands were the dutche resides is called Holland (by the dutch) by the way

I know one or two Dutch people, and I'm pretty sure they only call it Holland because they're sick of explaining the name to ignorant English speakers. The actual name of the country in Dutch is Nederland. North and South Holland are provinces within the Netherlands.

I asked a man from Holland what the difference between "Netherlands" and "Holland" was and he said he wasn't sure.

Truly, a fine example of a representative sample for us all to follow.
Last edited by Token on Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:34 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Rusty
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:25 pm UTC

Postby Rusty » Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:27 pm UTC

Trouble is there's no other short way of saying "American" when referring to someone from USA. "Yank" is more slang, and there are those who insist that it only refers to north-easterners anyway. United Statesean? USAish?

EDIT: Too slow... :P


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