9.15.2006

Not America

A couple of Brazilians are staying with me, and when I've talked about this country (in English), I've said "America" because that's what Japanese people and other Asians and folks from some other countries say. Then it dawned on me: in Portuguese it's "os Estados Unidos" or USA (pronounced "oosa"), not "America" because they're living in America Latina.

What's interesting is that the Brazilian Times calls itself "O jornal dos brasileiros nos Estados Unidos da America"--they've literally translated "United States of America" into "Estados Unidos da America."

Overall, though, avoiding the word "America" with Latin Americans isn't a politically correct decision but an obvious one, since they really are from America--just not the same kind of one Americans are from. Which reminds me that in Spanish, Americans are called "Americanos." Which really confuses the issue, actually, because the land mass "America" is huge, along with the variety of different regions of Americans.

But I'll still call myself an American, and adjust when necessary, depending on which language I'm trying to tackle.

2 comments:

Arrogant Polyglot said...

Canadian French uses a number of combinations to designate America's 'America'. Most say 'les États-Unis', but you can sometimes find 'les États-Unis d'Amérique'. Another simplified expression, which may in fact be calqued from English is 'les États', or 'The States'. As for 'Americans', the adjectival or nominal use is 'américain(e)(s)' (remember to agree with number and gender). 'Il est américain', but 'l'Américaine à la télé est belle'. Perhaps using a variation of 'américain' to refer to citizens of the US is a global trend for Romance languages?

Oh, and another adjective you may run into, but much less common is 'étatsunien(e)(s)', as in 'les politiques étatsuniennes'.

But one thing is for sure - you'll NEVER here a Québecer nor a Canadian say they're from America!!

mj said...

I'm familiar with "les Etats-Unis" and "americain(e)" but haven't heard the other stuff, probably cuz I'm so on the outside of the French world, even though I sometimes translate it (simple stuff only!).

I can see why we say "America" cuz it's a shortened version of "The United States of America." There's nothing wrong with it--until you meet folks from other parts of the Americas.

Question: Do you know of any short-term programs to study French in France, like for a couple weeks? I think I want to do that while checking out their art. :)