What’s in a word? Americanos vs. Estadunidenses

Gene at Expat Brazil posted a link to an article where the Argentine President called Americans by the term “americanos” instead of by the more formal term “estadunidenses” (something like “United-Statesian”). Interestingly enough, I was having this conversation on a forum elsewhere just yesterday so I thought I’d chime in ‘officially’ on my own site. Personally, I use both terms when I see fit (ie, depending on who I’m talking to) but I don’t go out of my way to make sure someone knows I’m not of the opinion that I rule the world.

All of Latin America (now there’s another famous discussion, are Brazilians ‘latinos’?) uses both terms although the use of “americano” is way more widely used by all while “estadunidense” is used by two kinds of people. The first kind is the intellectual wishing to be as correct and specific as possible and the second kind is the average person who believes that Americans believe we own the world (while we all know it is the “United-Statesian” government that really wishes to own the world). Let’s stop being silly then, shall we?

The only counter-argument used tries to say that anyone from the Americas is an American. True to a point, but nobody south of the United States really calls themselves “americano” so let’s make that clear (and yes, I’m pretending to know every citizen south of the US). If the intellectual wishes to make the distinction, then he/she must be of the intellect to know that we don’t call ourselves Americans for any other reason than that is just how we are known around the world. The argument is then moot because we certainly won’t start calling ourselves (or being called by others) “United-Statesians” any time soon.

12 thoughts on “What’s in a word? Americanos vs. Estadunidenses

  1. Eu acho bobeira aqui no Brasil querer chamar americano de estadunidense. As pessoas fazem muito barulho por nada. É como se de repente eu começasse a te chamar de John em vez de Adam.
    Não entendi a parte do Latin and South America..A America do Sul faz parte da america latina. Qual seria seu ponto de vista nesse caso?

  2. Sim, existe isso de os brasileiros não gostarem de ser chamados de latinos. A imagem que se faz de latino é a de que falam espanhol, ouvem salsa y merengue..mas é um estereotipo. Parece que não é só no brasil que não gostam de se chamados de latino. Olha essa musica: http://letras.terra.com.br/cuarteto-de-nos/376258/
    Pra mim latino é um termo mais usado por americanos.

  3. This is a nice topic, and it could be discussed for ages lol
    Actually, it doesn’t matter how americans/unitedstatians are called, but it does seems arrogant when they refer to United States as America (just my opinion)
    I like this video from Arrogant Worms (a Canadian group) lol

    Latinos – this term was invented by the American Government and it is specific for those who speak Spanish or have a Spanish background, so that Brazilians, Haitians, Jamaicans, people from Suriname and so on are NOT latinos. However, people from Brazil, Quebec (Canada), French Guiana, Haiti and Spanish speakers countries are all Latins due to their language.
    I do not consider me a Latino, and even Latinos don’t consider Brazilians as their own. All Latinos festival here in Toronto – Canada – Brazil is not included or invited to participate. Brazil is kept completely apart lol and most companies make it clear the difference between Brazil and Latin America e.g. hotels chains, entertainment companies and so on…
    Anyway, I think it is just the “annoying” American way to make everybody fits in a specific group – blacks, latinos, whites and blah blah Fortunately, this works (or used to work) way different in Brazil where no one is afro-brasileiro, or latino-brasileiro, or asiatico-brasileiro, but everybody is Brazilian first.
    I have noticed that things are changing though.. with that “cotas” thing, and so on…

  4. If we are going to adopt words and stereotypes, and particularly if they refer to OURSELVES!! straight out of the USA outlook on the world, our brains will shrink until they fall off our ears.

    It’s almost a joke to use “latino” as synonimous with “caribbean hispanic”, when technically a latino is any americano with a latin-derived background, be it spanish, portuguese and even italian and french. Latino shouldn’t be used an anything but short for Latinoamericano, and most Miami-style categories and stereotypes, from a southern perspective, can and should be regarded as colorful garbage.

    And if brazilians are latinoamericanos or not, is not a serious question, is it? Spanish- and Portuguese- speaking americanos are flip sides of the same coin.

    saludos de Argentina, – where also spanish-speaking sons of italians scoff at the idea of being latinos, like it’s a racial thing…

    E. K.

  5. My impression from my brief travels in Brazil is that Brazilians appreciate the acknowledgement that all people from the American continents are “Americans.”

    Given the United States’ history of meddling in the governments of Central and South America, there is a potent and arrogant symbolism in attaching the name “Americanos” to only those people from the United States. By reserving the name to themselves, “Americanos” sort of assert ownership over all of the Americas, which of course is the basic idea of the Monroe doctrine.

    That being said, I do catch myself calling myself an American from time to time.

  6. I’m an American that has been to Brazil twice for about six months each (once for a job, once for an internship.)

    Once, I tried to start an argument that Americano wasn’t mutually exclusive. That is I could call myself americano, and that didn’t mean that they weren’t americanos too. It just meant that I was referring to being from the US, and they were referring to being from the Americas. That didn’t work very well.

    Then I tried to get around it by saying “sou dos EUA.” And that mostly worked. That’s what I try to do now. Let them say americano first and then move on. I agree that estadounidense is pretty awkward.

    What I also think is pretty funny is that in Spanish, norteamericanos usually is understood to mean Americans. And then Spanish speakers speaking English will sometimes call Americans “north Americans” and thereby shortchange Canadians and possibly Mexicans (I was taught Mexico is part of North America, but not everyone is…)

    I love Brazil and I don’t mean to be unkind, but I think that this discussion manifests itself from sort of Brazilian insecurity–the same sort insecurity that insists that the Brazilian visa process mirror exactly in difficulty and fees the US visa process. And while I will shout from the rooftops that US visa process is stupid, demeaning and often hurts our own interests, I don’t think Brazil should copy it just to feel equal.

    From the point of view of poor people working in Brazil, it’s arguably better if more foreigners come and spend money. A person like me–living in Seattle and being required to visit San Francisco to get a tourist visa–is much less likely to visit Brazil because of the visa requirement. And having reciprocal visa requirements is obviously Brazil’s right as a sovereign, but that doesn’t mean Brazil should do it. Brazil should just do what makes sense for Brazil, based on its own conditions. And, again, my opinion here, for poor people in Brazil it would be better swallow national pride and make it easier for foreigners to visit and spend lots of money.

    Likewise, calling Americans “americanos” because everyone in the world understands that means people from the US, also makes sense for Brazil.

  7. Aff, you don’t need to try and stop saying you are American while you are in Brazil. Being an American is part of your identity, part of who you are. The US have done bad things to other countries over the years, but it doesn’t mean every American agree with that. Just ignore if people claim you don’t have the right be called “americano”.

  8. Hmmnn….

    It would be a lot easier if they just called you yanks.

    My personal preference is yankoid, although the Australian rhyming slang derivative: ‘Septic’ (Septic Tank = Yank) is also pretty good.

    Still it could be worse. Englishmen, Scotsman, Welshman and Northern Irishmen, are all technically British.

    However, Johnny Foreigner can always be relied upon to confuse British with English.

    This causes Englishmen such as myself to secretly chuckle to ourselves in our inimitable evil way, but at the same time, it cause immense distress to Welshmen, Scotsmen, and Northern Irishman. To which I, and other Englishmen respond with evil limey laughter – MWahahahahahahaha.

    By the way, Jolly good blog, old chap.

  9. Canadians I’ve met have the same issue. They claim to be Americans too and estadunidenses need to stop using the term!

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