Originally posted by BahamutXero
I’ve just completed a project on Brazil. I’ve read that when you go there you should never say “Well, you know, back in America, we…”. You would pretty looked at as a wacko. Brazilians consider themselves American. They’d be pissed if you called them Spanish too. Their official language is Portugese.
No, dude, it’s not like that. I’ve been to all the regions of BR, and everywhere you go nobody would consider him/herself american. When we say ‘american’ and ‘America’ we are ALWAYS meaning ‘someone from US’ and ‘US’. BTW, the term ‘south-american’ is very rare. You’re right about the Spanish part, though.
Now, back to geography. Officialy, the american continent was discovered by Cristopher Columbus in 1498. I’m not getting into the discussion about whether he was or wasn’t the first here, that’s for another thread. But he arrived in Central America, and the place he found was later called America in honor to another captain, Américo Vespúcio.
Mr. Vespúcio was born in Florence (I’m quite sure it’s in Italy). He sailed for the Spanish crown. The thing here is, Américo was already quite famous in Europe for his sailing. He sailed through most of the known world to his time and wrote books about his travels that were all the rage in Europe. A lot of people back then wanted to be Américo Vespúcio, just like nowadays a lot of people would like to be Keanu Reeves or Arnold Swash-something. Add to that, he was the first man to prove that the american continent was not part of India, but rather a New World (hence this famous expression). So, when it came to naming the continent that ranged from the pole of Argentina to the edge of Canada, they put the first name of Mr. Vespúcio in the place.
So, why are united-states-of-america-'ese people called just americans? Well, when the country was formed, way before it got all the 50 states in the collection, it needed a name. Not just any name, but one that looked so cool, that it would impose respect. So the East Coast guys chose United States of America. But you know how people are; humans are about the laziest animals on Earth. They’re so lazy that saying United States of America everytime they refered to the country was too much effort for them, so they said only America. Kinda the affective thing you do when instead of saying (let me pick a random RPGC user) Sir Percival, you say only ‘P’. See, you save a lot of breath and typing. Time passed, and what was just a slang used to save some breath became the norm. Saying America was not lazyness anymore… It had become the right way to say it, at least in the informal level. And since the country is called America, what should people born in there be called?