Playing the American Name Game
I'm getting tired of playing the name game with the word "America" or "American", and using it only to reference the broad slice of the world considered the Americas. I often make a conscious effort to use other descriptors for people from the U.S., but the practice is starting to wear on me—and my patience thinning for the "but we're all actually Americans, you know" comments that inevitably come out of Central and South America.
People of Latin America, and all those other Americas: It's time to get over it. The word American is synonymous with the populous of the United States of America. The country's name is long, and just so happens to contain the word 'America' at the end—and guess what: It's been shortened from "United States of American" to just "American". Deal with it.
People know and understand this on a global level. When I say "American" on the other side of the globe, people think USA.
Here's an example of a typical conversation in SE Asia:
Local: "Where are you from?"
Me: "The United States."
Local: (pause) "Where?"
Me: "The USA."
Local: (pausing… still not understanding)
Me: (hesitating) "…America."
Local: "Oh! America! You're American…"
No one ever associates a citizen of Venezuela, or any other Latin American country, with the word "American". It doesn't happen. Why? Because the phrases "Central America", "South America", and "Latin America" aren't globally recognizable—especially to those who haven't attended solid world geography courses.
So when people leave comments on this site saying, "…we are all "Americans"—South Americans are Americans as much as North Americans are", or obsessively try to correct others on the use of the word "American", I find myself rolling my eyes.
I'm tired of playing this game. I'm moving on—so should you.