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BS: Name for people from USA

GUEST,Jon Heslop 07 Sep 13 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Lighter 06 Sep 13 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 06 Sep 13 - 03:15 AM
GUEST,Lighter 05 Sep 13 - 08:17 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 05 Sep 13 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Grishka 05 Sep 13 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Lighter 04 Sep 13 - 03:59 PM
GUEST,Grishka 04 Sep 13 - 01:35 PM
Stu 04 Sep 13 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 04 Sep 13 - 09:19 AM
Gibb Sahib 04 Sep 13 - 07:24 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Sep 13 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,Grishka 04 Sep 13 - 06:44 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Sep 13 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Grishka 04 Sep 13 - 05:08 AM
Stu 04 Sep 13 - 05:04 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Sep 13 - 01:06 AM
Gibb Sahib 03 Sep 13 - 10:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 13 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Allan Conn 03 Sep 13 - 06:23 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 13 - 06:19 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Sep 13 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,Stu in the ether 03 Sep 13 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 04:03 PM
Stu 03 Sep 13 - 03:05 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Lighter 03 Sep 13 - 02:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 13 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 12:51 PM
Stu 03 Sep 13 - 12:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 13 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Sep 13 - 07:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Sep 13 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Grishka 02 Sep 13 - 02:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Sep 13 - 06:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Sep 13 - 12:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Sep 13 - 11:46 AM
Mr Happy 01 Sep 13 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 31 Aug 13 - 10:02 PM
Gibb Sahib 30 Aug 13 - 10:55 PM
ChanteyLass 30 Aug 13 - 08:19 PM
GUEST 30 Aug 13 - 08:00 PM
Uncle_DaveO 30 Aug 13 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,giovanni 29 Aug 13 - 01:16 PM
Stringsinger 28 Aug 13 - 07:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Aug 13 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Grishka 28 Aug 13 - 11:41 AM

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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Jon Heslop
Date: 07 Sep 13 - 08:04 AM

To clear up any confusion re Irish, Scots, Picts etc may I refer you to the "Important Note" appended to chapter 2 of Sellar and Yeatman's seminal work on the history of the British Isles, "1066 And All That".
That should make everything clear.(or perhaps not)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 13 - 01:50 PM

And that's what can happen on just one island.

Adds perspective, doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 06 Sep 13 - 03:15 AM

"The Welsh (properly called "Cymry") once inhabited all of modern England, Wales, and lowland Scotland."

This is the stuff that fascinates me especially as far as Scottish history goes and Scotland itself shows how names change in meaning. At the time of the Romans arrival all of Albion (as far as we know) was inhabited by tribes that the Romans called Britons. That is also Scotland in the highlands as well as lowlands. The main language of all the tribes is thought to have been P-Celtic (ie ancestors of modern Welsh, Cornish). For whatever reason the Romans decided to make a frontier rather than take the whole island and they called their province Britannia. The tribe in northern England, thought to be the most powerful in all of Albion were the Brigantes. To the north between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall – Firth of Forth line were four tribes including the Votadini and Selgovae in my area. Further to the north were another dozen or so tribes which included the likes of the Caledonii, Venicones and Epidii.

Gradually over the centuries the smaller tribes came together into larger units. Outwith the Roman sphere there were two main groups emerging. Centred on the Caledonii were the Northern Picts and on the Venicones/Maetea of Perthshire and Fife were the Southern Picts. South of the Antonine Wall two main Britonnic kingdoms were emerging in southern Scotland. The Kingdom of the Goddodin (ie the Roman's Votadini) centred on Edinburgh and the Kingdom of Strathclyde centred on Dunbarton (the Fort of the Britons). Much of what is regarded as Welsh early literature actually comes from southern Scotland and northern England. They called themselves and territory Cumbrogi/Cumbric/Cumbrian which is related to Cymri/Cymru which the Welsh call themselves and territory

On the north western seaboard by 500AD and possibly well before the Gaels (the Dalriadan Scotti) had arrived from Ulster to set up the kingdom of Dalriada though there is not much evidence of mass movement of people and expulsion of the Epidii. Probably just a new elite, some incomers, and a change of culture. The same then happened in the land of the Goddodin as control of it fell to the Bernician Angles becoming part of Northumbria. In the west however Strathclyde was a long standing kingdom which rivalled Pictland as the strongest of the northern kingdoms. Like both Dalriada and Pictland the power of Strathclyde was eventually smashed by a Norse incursion after a long siege in the 9thC. It survived for another century or so but became more and more under control of the emerging Kingdom of Alba and the coming together of the Scotti and Picts in the north. So Cumbric lost sway because of Northumbrian in the east and perhaps south west (ie modern Cumbria etc) but in south western Scotland it lost sway mostly because of Gaelic.

The present border especially in the east was more or less settled, despite some later wrangling and a few minor changes on the present border in 1018 or so. So in the early charters of the now emerging Kingdom of Scotland (which Alba was becoming) the people of the kingdom are called something like French, Inglis, Scottis, Britonnes and Galwegians. However by the time of the Wars of Independence charters were talking simply about Scots. The name had changed to mean all the people of the Kingdom of Scotland. William Wallace's name may have meant William the Welsh (ie Briton) but no-one would have called him a Briton by then. Interesting stuff though. British may have been used by some as a geographic term but I think mostly it fell out of common use until the 17th or so. The Scottish historian John Mair in his mid 16thc History of Greater Britain wrote an argument for a closer co-operation or possibly even a union between Scotland and England. The Reformation was pushing many Scots out of the French sphere. When James VI became King of England too he personally styled himself King of Great Britain and advocated union but both parliaments flatly rejected his idea. when British did come back into use it was because of the union and coming together between the Scottish and English peoples and not because of dark age usage or ideas.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 13 - 08:17 PM

I haven't read the entire thread, but surely someone has pointed out that "British" once meant (and therefore, by the specious reasoning in question, ought still to mean) "Welsh." The Welsh (properly called "Cymry") once inhabited all of modern England, Wales, and lowland Scotland. They were driven out or at least subdued by the "Anglo-Saxons," which is also presumably insulting because it names not a real tribe but an academically convenient grouping of not two but three or four related tribes, who presumably were not terribly fond of each other unless they were jointly beating up the Cymry. Included in "Anglo-Saxons" are also the Jutes and Frisians who, to a certain way of thinking, are made "invisible" by the name "Anglo-Saxon," which they never used

The reason you don't hear Jute and Frisian protests is that the descendants of all four tribes informally settled on "English" long ago.

And while we're at it, we really must get rid of "Welsh." First of all, it can now mean "to refuse to pay a debt," which is a stinging insult to all honest Welsh persons. Equally bad, "Welsh" was originally applied by the conquering "Anglo-Saxons" to the native "British" (also misleading, but let's stay focused) because the "Anglo-Saxons" had adopted the word (after twisting the pronunciation) from the arrogant Romans (few of whom actually lived in Rome), who had applied its etymological ancestor to the Celtic tribe Volcae (as the "Romans" called them in Latinized and thus disrespectful form). The "Anglo-Saxons" applied "Welsh" to all Celts.

Which should be spelled with a "K," not a "C." And as for the Picts, nobody knows what they called themselves. "Picti" seems to be a Latin word meaning simply "painted or tattooed barbarians," implying that, north of the Firth, all "barbarians" (a Greek insult for "people who have no real language") were just a big undifferentiated mob whose woad and tattoos made them all look alike.

"Scot" may have meant "pirate," so it's best to avoid that word. The historically neutral word for the "Scots" that is still in use would be "Hibernians," which unfortunately now means "Irish."

Anyone who doubts that these names and words evolved and developed as stated can start with Wikipedia and delve deeper ad lib.

(Mercifully, "Cornish" seems never to have been insulting, though "Cornwall" apparently meant "Land of Cornish Foreigners." "Manx" also seems OK, except that it's not fully a Manx word; probably it's Old Norse.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 05 Sep 13 - 06:15 PM

"The UK, as we have seen, has yet to reach that highest degree of pragmatism, and many other countries are far away from it."

I'm not so sure that the name thing is the problem in the UK. I imagine that most of the minority in NI who don't regard themselves as British would be just as unhappy to be called United Kingdomers. It is as much as political stance as much as anything. Likewise probably more so in Scotland. People in Scotland mostly know they are British but a minority make a political choice to not class themselves as British at all. They would be exactly the same with the term United Kingdomers. When they say I am not British at all they are meaning I want an indepedent Scotland not that they dislike the term British. Actually the SNP have even suggested that independence would strengthen Britishness. You may not agree with it and the Scottish unionists scoffed at the suggestion - however the thinking is that take the politics out of Britishness and even those who say they are not British at the moment will be more likely to accept they are British on a geographic, cultural and family level.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 05 Sep 13 - 06:28 AM

Before this thread goes the Mudcat way (i.e. gets hitchhiked by trolls), I would like to mention that no person or group has the power to decree rules of politeness at liberty. If the kings of France, for example, ever had that power at all (as they claimed), they lost it long before their crowns and heads. Rather, those rules have to be discovered, similar to the rules in the sciences.

In the cases of group names, the first question is which persons can politely be grouped at all. In some cases, no satisfactory solution has been discovered yet, so we must live with the best approximation we know. As for citizens of a country recognized by the UN, there is no such doubt; even separatists or unionists in that country must take notice of the status quo.

The second problem is to discover a usable and polite name for a group in every language. Members of that group have a strong say, but even if they all agree, it is not the final say. The same applies to the speakers of the language in which the name is to be used. There are some manifest criteria which disqualify names, as discussed in this and other threads.

In quite a number of "nations", the distinction between citizenship, ethnicity, and language group causes problems. A pragmatic solution has been found in Malaysia, where Malayans form the ethnic majority and the coinage "Malaysians" includes the minorities. The UK, as we have seen, has yet to reach that highest degree of pragmatism, and many other countries are far away from it.

People who say "They can't make up their minds, so I may as well call them garlickers" are comparable to those who insist that the earth must be flat because geologists sometimes disagree among each other.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 03:59 PM

Current PC wisdom has it that members of the ethnicity formerly known as "Eskimos" are revolted by that name and must be called "Inuit" instead.

The reasoning (if I may use that word) is that "Eskimo" is plausibly (but not certainly) derived from a Cree Indian (I mean, of course, "Cree Native American") word meaning, derogatorily, "eater of raw meat." An equally plausible theory, however, is that the Cree word meant "wearer of netted snowshoes," which would be hard to argue with.

Whether the "Eskimos" were aware of this and objected to it, or whether they were encouraged to object by tenured non-Eskimo academics, I do not know. Either way, though, only the most rarified academic of any ethnicity is likely to know that "Eskimo," in different form, might once have meant "eater of raw things" in a mom-Eskimo, non-English language.

As a word in English, "Eskimo" does not and has never meant "eater of raw meat." It means "a member of various related circumpolar ethnic groups of Mongoloid [of course I mean "Asian"] stock, whose members are believed to prefer being called 'Inuit.'"

In English, "Eskimo" is neutral. And it would seem to be neutral to plenty of Inuit, too, because it remains widely used by the people in question themselves in Alaska, if not in Canada and Greenland.

More fun: "Inuit" means "The People." In Alaska, the Yupik and Inupiat, who are as Eskimo as anyone, are said to find "Inuit" offensive, because it means "The People" in a foreign (non-Yupik, non-Inupiat) language. Isn't that an insult? Shouldn't everyone know that "Yupik" and "Inupiat" mean "a real person" in the respective languages? If you are not a Yupik or Inupiat (or an Inuit) should you assume and become annoyed that you are being told you are not a "real person"? Your choice, my friends.

Ethnic groups should be called what they want to be called. However, it is not always obvious what "they," or which *of* them, do want to be called. The flip side of honoring the wishes of the designated is to understand that

A: etymology (like the uncertain etymology of "Eskimo") has little or no bearing on current understanding or usage unless somebody with too much education to be useful insists that it does, and

B: it perfectly understandable for members of foreign ethnic groups to have not the faintest idea of what others would rather be called, and that most foreigners will continue to use whatever they believe is a neutral term no matter how often you scold them. And for most non-Inuit, "Eskimo" and "Inuit" are equally neutral terms.

Consider too, ye reformers: In German, Germans are "Deutsch." So shouldn't we call them that in English amd every other language? If not, why not? "German" isn't even German, it's Latin (and the Romans hated and feared the Germans. What's more, Caesar was supposedly told by the Teutonic Remi that "Germani" (or the Germanic equivalent) was what Teutons/Germans called themselves beyond the Rhine. But it looks like only the Tungri called themselves the Germani (before changing their name -for some unknown reason).

Confused? Better to leave well enough alone.

If you can figure out what "well enough" is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 01:35 PM

MtheGM, I agree that satirists can be blamed if a typical audience is likely to misunderstand them, and all the more so if they are actually under suspicion to promote those prejudices secretly. I cannot judge whether this holds in your case, I am just positive that careful and experienced readers will discover the satire alright.

The examples John Cleese was referring to - mainly "Fawlty Towers" - were also often criticized for the opposite reason: being too obvious and simplistically pedagogic. He was definitely not secretly endorsing those prejudices. Hard to please everyone. (That series featured a retired soldier who perfectly represented the "innocence" mentioned above, meant to be self-revealing - sadly going totally amiss with many watchers, even those who understood the idea behind the "Fawlty" character played by John Cleese. Watch it on YouTube.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Stu
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 11:31 AM

"which you, nonetheless, see nothing disrespectful about..."

You're misunderstanding. I have said, and as Allan has pointed out I don't use the word (except once in a private joke to good and valued American friends, who did not take offence) in deference to any Americans, in case it's disrespectful. Suffice to say however, that many on these isles would never know they were insulting someone if they used the word and so perhaps those who are offended by such a minor faux pas could have the good grace and dignity to accept a cultural difference as being just that and move on, or "You've just got to put yourself in their position, let go of the ego, and empathize".

Cripes, I wish I'd never weighed in now. Perhaps we'll enjoy a pint one day and you'll get too meet this egotistical, misunderstanding ignoramus.

"there are many comic aspects in inter-cultural communication."

This thread is one of them ;-) (or is it a tragedy?)

"Likewise we British are in ignorance over some things."

This is very true. For instance, no-one has yet explained what a "beaner" is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 09:19 AM

"Just take it on board" I take it that is addressed to Stu and to be honest it is a bit unfair! Stu has already said, as have I, that he doesn't use the word 'Yank' because he realises that it may offend. It is true though that many British people would not realise they were potentially offending anyone. It goes the other way too. If I was sitting looking at Youtube clips on the internet waiting to be offended then I could be almost continually offended by US users calling Scottish people Scotch (I've even seen Scotties) or conflating England with the UK etc! An American tourist told me once that Edinburgh was the nicest city she'd visited in England. What's the point of being offended though. They aren't on the whole meaning to offend by saying things they simply don't know. Likewise we British are in ignorance over some things. Life doesn't need to be quite so serious.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 07:24 AM

Stu -

I don't get why you did not quote the sentence of mine directly before the one you quoted—the one in which I said the exact opposite of what was in your reply.

I think you're trippin', man...gotten off on this hair-splitting tangent about "Yank", and all the specious arguments about intention and century-old songs. Look at the early posts in the thread. Even just the first post. Just look at the name of the thread and the nationality of most of the discussants. "Hint of cultural imperialism" indeed. Hint of, "We know what's best for others." It's easy enough to ask some of the over 300 million people of the USA what they like to be called. When they tell you, you've got your answer and there is no need to challenge and debate the answer you got. Just take it on board, "ok, cheers, good to know" and go on doing as you feel appropriate in the various contexts.

As for not getting how some people can feel when called by a term that they don't identify with or that they dislike(1), which you, nonetheless, see nothing disrespectful about...I don't know how I can help any more there. You get it or you don't. You've just got to put yourself in their position, let go of the ego, and empathize.(2)

Footnotes.
1. Registering dislike for a name a person/thing is called does not equate with being a drama queen, throwing a tantrum, having thin skin, inability to live with "reality", etc.
2. In my view, compromise, self-adjustment, or bending to others does not mean loss of pride, honour, etc. It does not indicate weak principles, but rather displays specific principles of adaptability and respect. I can change myself, my ways, etc without feeling that I have given in, become submissive, lost my identity, etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 07:00 AM

This is not always a convincing point, tho ~~ the John Cleese one, I mean. Warren Mitchell made the same point re Alf Garnett; but that was regarded by many as the result of his performance, & Johnny Speight's script, being just so convincing that they escaped their creators' intentions to counter-productive effect. Satire is, notoriously, a dangerous weapon, liable to turn from a lance to a boomerang.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 06:44 AM

If I have to withdraw my point about "hey nonny" (though I am not quite convinced - note the difference between a belief and a cliché), there are still many indicators left that the article was not meant seriously. As in John Cleese's case, some stubborn readers may see their prejudices reinforced, who can be written off as hopeless.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 05:56 AM

Thanks for your kind words, Grishka. But I think you are wrong about "hey nonny". Just try asking a work mate to quote a folk chorus for you.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 05:08 AM

MtheGM (04 Sep 13 - 01:06 AM) and McGrath (03 Sep 13 - 07:35 PM), we agree completely, and what you are stating is in fact what I mainly try to convey in this thread.

Humoristic licence for a cliché can be granted when all listeners or readers can be expected to recognize it as quoted rather than endorsed. This expectation depends strongly on the cultural context; inside British culture, it is particular high, particularly if counter-valued by a really good joke. Naturally, some people either do not "get it" or disagree. John Cleese once complained in an interview that he gets many letters from "fans" who congratulate him to the very prejudices he wanted to satirize.

As for the morris article, I think it can at least be proved not to be serious. MtheGM wrote: Isn't it funny how the rest of the world unquestioningly believes that the locution "Hey nonny no" occurs ubiquitously thruout folklore, when the only actual instance that I can think of occurs in a song wrote by Will in As You Like It. An unshakeable near-universal misapprehension. Very strange! — I do not know about "the rest of the world", but writers and understanding readers of British newspapers cannot possibly believe that "Hey nonny no" occurs ubiquitously throughout folklore.

If a joke is good, and produced safely inside a British context, the "victim" is supposed to laugh and possibly add "By the way, the irons are only worn in certain areas ...". It will earn you a reputation of good sportsmanship, as many morris dancers have.

In cases of flippant abuse, you can either argue about the humoristic quality or exercise stoicism. Arguing requires arguments that can be understood by the abuser - chances are rarely promising. (You realise that I am experienced.)

There is nothing intrinsically comic about the morris or of being a US American, but there are many comic aspects in inter-cultural communication. Where would we be without our comedians?!


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Stu
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 05:04 AM

"By the same token, outsiders poking into American sphere and arguing that they are wrong to dislike "Yank" because of so-and-so historical examples is both pointless and rude. "

I don't think anyone is trying to say you're wrong, and no-one is poking into the American sphere (oo-er missus), simply that the use of the word 'yank' or 'brit' or whatever are cultural differences, and as Allan says intention is important in discussing usage. Although you may dislike the word, who are any of us to impose our usage of a language to people of a different culture? Moreover, you are effectively asking people from this culture to redefine a word used innocuously and often as a term indicating a certain degree of fondness to your particular usage. This has a hint of cultural imperialism about it . . . you don't own the language any more than anyone else does, and the usage in these islands is not meant in disrespect.*

Two cultures separated by a common language. It's great that we're even having this conversation, as it shows we all care.





*If it were meant with disrespect, it would be proceeded by the word "bloody" (or worse). Example:

"I dunno me old china, all them bloody yanks coming over here, stealing our women and chewing gum and what 'ave you." (A snippet of conversation overheard in the East End circa 1944).


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 01:06 AM

McGrath pins down my point. Again one of my favourite quotes, from Snobs, a 10-or-so-years-old novel by Julian Fellowes, pre-DowntonAbbey, who summarises the most disagreeable character as "the kind of man who insults you and then says 'Can't you take a joke?'"

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 10:55 PM

Hi,

Erm, I thought I had made enough disclaimers... but maybe not :)

My habit is not to prescribe, but rather to inform (when possible!...though I regret not always with enough humility). Say what you like and I won't stop you. No need (in my opinion) to debate power relations and histories of oppression and how these factor into who may say what. Nor is there any need (again in my opinion) to take engage in the "not everyone" argument or the "but what about *this* exception" argument.

My simple point (which I think Grishka, for one, followed) is that, under "normal" circumstances, it is most appropriate to call people that which they wish to be called and call themselves. People of USA call themselves Americans. No amount of pontificating by "outsiders" on what seems most logical or proper will change that. The indignation comes from outsiders presuming to make the judgement on what is most logical, proper, appropriate, practical, etc instead of just respecting what said group uses. It's not your call—unless, of course, you want to limit the discussion to your own in-group.

You're living in a dream world if you happen to think "Yank" is a neutral equivalent of "American" as perceived by most people of USA. (There is a difference between "not terribly threatened by it" and "perceived as neutral".) Which means that you can only really safely continue to use it with the belief that it is neutral (i.e. despite the knowledge that many Americans don't like it) within your own (outsider) sphere. I (an American) am not going to poke into UK English sphere and try to stop people from saying things! By the same token, outsiders poking into American sphere and arguing that they are wrong to dislike "Yank" because of so-and-so historical examples is both pointless and rude.

Whereas it might be conventional in one's group to use certain names for things—for instance, I and my peers call a sleeveless undershirt, innocuously in our sense, a "wife-beater"— to quarrel with people in another group that dislike the name is crossing the line into arrogance. My earlier post was to inform that that line was being crossed. One can register that information, :) use it as one sees fit, and move on!

Affably,
Gibb


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 07:35 PM

I've nothing against drift myself. In fact quite the reverse (except where it is used to divert a thread from a genuine discussion of something genuinely worth discussing).

What I think MtheGM was really objecting to was what CS Lewis called "flippancy" (in The Screwtape Letters):

Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it.

It's a very pervasive trick, and a very sneaky one. And it's a great technique for all kinds of bullies. "Where's your sense of humour?"   (And incidentally I'm not for a moment saying that there isn't a ridiculous aspect to Morris Dancing - but the point is, those who love the Morris are aware of this and very much in on the joke.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 06:55 PM

Allan (03 Sep 13 - 06:23 PM): exactly what I am saying. "Innocent" usage is innocent only as long as the speaker cannot be reasonably expected to know about the issues involved. Afterwards, it is "culpable negligence".


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 06:47 PM

Sorry, I confused various posters in my last message. I should go to bed and reply tomorrow.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 06:40 PM

McGrath, it was not meant as a drift at all. My impression is that people (including myself, certainly not only English) tend to have different ideas about the limits of humour or friendly teasing, depending on whether they are actors, observers, or targets. (What seems particularly English to me is that limits are generally wider than in other societies I know.) Persons who are not used to being targeted are likely to have difficulties to cope with that role if the case suddenly occurs.

It is of course a mark of civilized communication that the speaker or writer somewhat anticipates the feelings of the listeners or readers, and tries to avoid unintentional damage. A joke that humiliates the target can only be seen as a success if it is either intended for that purpose, or at least makes the victim realize her/his own fault (e.g. lacking "sense of humour"). A risky undertaking.

Now for that Morris thread: indeed, the genuinely humorous character of that newspaper satire can easily be demonstrated. Here is the main quote from MtheGM: Yes; but in that unfortunate strand of English humour which insists on seeing something intrinsically comic about the morris. Which I loathe with a virulent loathing. See? That is how a "Yank" etc. may feel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 06:23 PM

"takes offence without caring about the speakers' or writers' intention, or the conventions in their country"

There has to be a difference dependent on what the intention is though and there is a difference between not liking something and actually really taking offence. I don't think the word Yank is either negative or positive in British usage. It is just what many people use in a quite innocent manner thinking it pertains to all Americans. Fair dos once you know that it could potentially be disliked then it is best not to use it and I don't tend to use it myself but I do think the vast majority of Brits use it meaning no harm and not realising it may not be liked.

Many Scots are not too keen on being called Scotch but it is still seems to be often used in North America as the adjective. So if an American used the word Scotch then even though I maybe wouldn't particularly like it I would have no reason to actually take offence if it was used innocently.

So language is a minefield and we don't always know what might offend someone somewhere which makes it hard when we're communicating with people across the globe. So don't take offence if someone innocently uses a word you won't like - you just tell them in a nice way that it may be disliked by some. And if someone points out that something is potentially offensive then take note of it. why risk alienating people?


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 06:19 PM

It seems to me that while the labels used for the powerless and the oppressed can matter a great deal, when it comes to the powerful who suffer no opppression the same just isn't true.

However politeness indicates that we should avoid using terms which people find disagreeable, in most circumstances. That's easy enough on an individual basis, but a lot of the time we find ourselves addressing a number of people. Does that mean avoiding using any terms which anyone might object to? That could be difficult, because different people take offence at different things.

Some terms are indeed fairly unambiguously offensive, but so far as Yank (and Brit) are concerned I suspect that you could probably find as many people in a relevant group who would hear the term as something to feel good about as there would be who dsliked it. And a significantly larger number, I would suggest, who just didn't gve a damn.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 05:59 PM

Out of interest, Grishka, just to take you up on your drift: did you hold any sort of survey as to who, & how many people, thought that satire on the Morris "really funny", or are you just asserting your own opinion as some sort of universal truth? Perhaps because any sort of such satire just has to be "really funny"?

Just asking...

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Stu in the ether
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 04:25 PM

Ah well, I meant no harm and apologies if I have offended anyone, that was never my intention. As usual, it seems never the twain shall meet, and I wonder if we're talking at cross purposes to a degree.

I think I might not start that thread on identity.

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 04:03 PM

Gibb's point seems to have been that he takes offence without caring about the speakers' or writers' intention, or the conventions in their country. Thus, if you do not care about his taking offence, you may well use any word you like. Conversely, any negative feeling you or others may have when addressed as a "Brit" cannot be dismissed by lack of intention.

A usage can be seen as inappropriate even if nobody feels insulted.

As for "yankophile", or "frogophile", "krautophile", "polackophile" - humour has some limited licence provided it is really funny and every witness understands it. I am a great fan of good English humour, even if playing on the worst clich&eaucte;s, but I lived in England as a foreigner long enough to have seen all kinds of most primitive abuse falsely excused as humorous. (When a British journalist wrote a really funny satire about Morris dancers, the usual English Mudcat suspects whined with pain ...)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Stu
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 03:05 PM

"Gibb Sahib is not known to be particularly touchy, so I would take his opinion seriously."

His opinion is valued but no more or less than anyone else on this forum. I can understand his touchiness, but his ire is misdirected in a sense; whether he understands or not, the word 'yank' is not deemed insulting or pejorative in the UK. Does anyone use the word 'limey'? That wouldn't bother me, as that was what the Americans called us in the war (when we called them, er, 'yanks'). What is a 'Beaner'?

That said, I don't use the word myself out of respect for my American friends (although I did once say I was a 'yankophile', and much hilarity ensued, but USAophile is cumbersome and Americanophile is sort of wrong), but then I don't like the word 'brit' much either, which is often used in a pejorative manner although many US friends call it me and I don't take offence, so I stand to be corrected. But just as Gibb Sahib doesn't care what us brits think, whether I care or not is equally irrelevant. That was my point.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 03:04 PM

Those who do not spend a thought on their readers' feelings can use any name they find sufficiently precise; "Yanks" serves this purpose alright. And those enviable persons do not even need to mention that in fact they know a Yank who does not always eat hamburgers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 02:41 PM

> Americans are not and have not been, an oppressed people.

Oh, no? Care to try to collect that tea tax again?

BTW, as has been pointed out often enough, few people in the *real world* feel that calling Americans "Americans" is impolite, disrespectful, insensitive, thuggish, colonialist, and/or "war propaganda." Also, a Spaniard calling a Latin American an "Americano" is no different from a Brit (oops! obviously I mean "British or Irish person!") calling a North American American an "American" back before there even was a United States of America. One idiom doesn't neutralize the other.

Is it true that whenever one identifies Barack Obama as "the American President," he or she is, consciously or not, insulting the rest of the Western hemisphere? Are those who answer yes in possession of all their marbles?

And now, back to normal.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 02:08 PM

Well, we seem to be able to work up a quarrel over just about everything here. Maybe it's something to do with the Mudcat being founded on folk music that provides a measure of belligerance. i had one friend throw another friend across the room once because of a difference over what key to play a tune in.

Actually when I started this thread I didn't have any high-minded thoughts about feelings, just noting an anomaly about a major country whose citizens don't have an exclusive name of their own. Anomalies like that interest me, but it's an interest without an agenda for me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 12:51 PM

It is not a question of disagreeing, and neither do I tell anybody which words to use and which ones to avoid. I understood your OP that you were interested about the feelings possibly raised by various collective names, and we have tried to be helpful. Gibb Sahib is not known to be particularly touchy, so I would take his opinion seriously.

On the other thread, where the OP question arose, one poster became sulky and another one aggressive. Both reactions are of course unreasonable, but what do you think caused the underlying negative feelings?

(I must admit that I am sometimes under attack myself, not always unavoidably, so I am grateful for any hints about possible causes.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Stu
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 12:17 PM

"I put "Yank" in the latter category. You may not in Britain, but I don't care."

As it happens we don't, but then we don't care either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 11:58 AM

Each case may have something in common, but they are different in other more significant ways.

Gibb indicates he dislikes the term, but my impression from my experience with Americans, is that is a personal preference which is not that widely shared. "Yank" has a great deal in common with "Brit" - not a term I particularly like, but most British people seem fine with it, and it would in fact be seen as pretty absurd to object to its use. And, like "Yank" ( I strongly suspect) it was probably an expression originating in the country referred to.

Both very different in those respects to most of the "comparable" terms that have been mentioned.   And for me that difference is what makes all the difference.

But I suspect we're going to continue to disagree on this.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 07:23 AM

Each case is different, to be sure, but all have one thing in common: the fact that a name is sometimes used by the group itself, proudly or jokingly or defiantly or for whatever reason, is no license for others to use it. Gibb Sahib made it perfectly clear that he does not appreciate "Yanks", notwithstanding Roosevelt's Gold Medal for a WWI propaganda song, and the probability that the word originated in the USA, and your assurance that you do not mean to insult anybody.

Even if nobody particular feels insulted, I would not risk to use such names as "Kiwis", except for situations of relaxed friendliness such as discussing national sports teams. As I illustrated above with my "Canucks" example (anyone objecting?), there may be other negative emotions by readers of any nationality.

Now some of us may argue that they cannot be held responsible for unsubstantiated negative emotions, and that the rest of the world is simply wrong. Even if that could be proved (- whereas in fact no proof about emotions exists -), it would not restore one's image of being a polite person.

There are of course cases of doubt, but I do not see any in this thread.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 08:33 PM

Americans are not and have not been, an oppressed people, which makes a very significant difference.

And the word in question, "Yank", is one which has frequently been used by Americans with pride in association with things which merit pride, and which is very frequently used in contexts where it is associated with a degree of affection and admiration, probably more so than "american". It is also used in other contexts where hostility is felt, but then that is equally true of "American".


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 02:09 PM

McGrath, do you also feel entitled to use the N word, since it is sometimes used for self-naming?


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 06:34 PM

Vintage Stars and Stripes...

As I said, strong grounds for thinking the term was imported from the USA media.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 12:36 PM

Correction - it was a Congessional Gold Medal, presented by Roosevelt in 1936.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 11:46 AM

So presumably they got it wrong when they gave a Congressional Medal of Honour to George M Cohan in 1949 for writing Over There, with the chorus


Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums are rum-tumming everywhere


There seem strong grounds to think that the term Yanks in fact originated in the USA, and was exported as. An appropriate term for referring to (US) Americans in general.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Mr Happy
Date: 01 Sep 13 - 11:25 AM

Re 'Aussies' above - pronounced 'Ozzies'

I was in former East Germany some years ago.

A lot of the people there liked to be known as 'Ozzys'


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 31 Aug 13 - 10:02 PM

NAFTA-CANS

GfS


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Aug 13 - 10:55 PM

Canuck, Kiwi, Aussie...these are terms widely used by the people for themselves. *Themselves* is the key part of the equation.

Yank is not used by Americans for themselves. "Yank" without any connotations? Bullshit. Non-Americans may claim they don't mean anything by "Yank," nonetheless it is not an appreciated term—just because they think it's fine. Or just because Americans aren't universally "offended" by it, per se—like White people are not universally offended by "whitey" or "cracker". It still "sounds bad" to American ears.

Again— since ostensibly this thread was formed with a sincere interest in appreciating people's preferences... inspired by the thought that some people from the Americas would be irked by people from USA being called "Americans" ("We Chileans are Americans, too, dammit!") ... since that is ostensibly the logic, I am informing you that, according to that spirit, "Yank" is not a nice or appreciated term for a person from the USA.

I hope I don't have to explain the difference between appreciated, respectful terms and those terms that one does understand, in context, may be used either for disrespect or for affectionate ribbing (Limey, Frog, Beaner, Gringo, Jap, Kraut, Polack, etc). I put "Yank" in the latter category. You may not in Britain, but I don't care.

Secondly, In the USA, our continental neighbors to the South (Mexico) and North (Canada) call us "Americans." Sometimes Canadians use "North Americans" to refer to themselves and people from USA (and, oddly, excluding Mexicans and people of several other countries). "North American" is now almost like a codeword for "Canadian"! Indeed, when I converse with Canadians, I sometimes have to be careful to make sure I say "NORTH American" when making broadly applicable generalizations, because if I just said "America" they might assume I meant USA only and I was not being inclusive. See, that shows the degree to which USA is "America" in convention.

The only people that get really butthurt about "Americans," in my experience, are some people from some South American nations. They are currently on a USA-hating trip, and every once in a while feel compelled to pedantically lash out with the "We are Americans, too" spiel. Whether or not that poses any *real* issue for people of other nations when they want to refer to people of USA - i.e. because they worry about pissing off pedantic butthurt Argentines - I doubt. But if it does, the solution is neither the idiotic "USAians" nor "Yank"—the latter which makes me want to smack them upside the head.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 30 Aug 13 - 08:19 PM

And people from Rhode Island, especially southern Rhode Island, are sometimes called Swamp Yankees!


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 13 - 08:00 PM

But, Kendall and Dave, I eat pie for brekky and I am a Herring Choker.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 30 Aug 13 - 09:22 AM

As to "Yankee", a lonnnnnnng time ago I learned the following:

"All the world knows that a Yankee is someone from the United States.

"Everyone below the Mason-Dixon line in the United States knows that a Yankee is someone from north of the Mason-Dixon line.

"Everyone from north of the Mason-Dixon line knows that a Yankee is someone from New England.

"Everyone from New England knows that a Yankee is someone from New Hampshire.

"Everyone from New Hampshire knows that a Yankee is someone who eats pie for breakfast."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,giovanni
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 01:16 PM

Re several posts ago, I have it on good authority that people from Lancashire are known to any self-respecting Yorkshireman as "Lancashites".

g


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 07:30 PM

Easy. Norte Americanos. (Americanas). North Americans. (not Canadians).


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 01:27 PM

There seems to be an undercurrent of indignation, as if there was some kind of criticism involved in talking about an odd quirk of nomenclature, and some need to defend the right of people to use the term "American" to refer to themselves.
................
There's a distinction between Yank and Yankee in the way it's used. The latter is pretty widely recognised here to refer to people from part of the States, even when we might not be sure quite which part too precisely. The former is pretty universally used to mean "Americans" generally, without any connotation of hostility.

Of course you have Yankee used that way sometimes, as in Cyril Tawney's song "Sammy's Bar", with its fatal "Yankee Car", but Yank wouldn't have scanned.

South Americans have different rules, with "Yanquis" meaning all "Americans", frequently enough a degree of rancour.


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Subject: RE: BS: Name for people from USA
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 11:41 AM

PHJim, many Candians feel like you do, and have written so on Mudcat. Similarly, most Australians are happy with "Aussie". As for endearment, you cannot always be sure, and even less so about proper respect.

For example, assume I wanted to make a statement like "The Canadians should rethink their political system" - that sounds reasonable (as with most other countries, by the way), if properly substantiated. If however I said "The Canucks should rethink their political system", it would sound patronizing or worse, if not in your ears, then in mine and probably in those of other listeners. I would not take the risk if I can avoid it.

Lighter, this thread is for those of us who want to appear as polite, respectful, and reasonably savvy on international matters. Those who do not (e.g. because they feel to be in need of war propaganda) should ignore it, but it is not pointless, even if most of it has been discussed many times before.


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