Tuesday, July 22, 2008


When someone says to you America, what do you think? The US, or all of the Americas? I have always found it strange that the French don't necessarily differentiate between north and south, they just call it all L'Amérique.

Take this quiz, for example, L'Amérique en 10 questions from the Le Monde newspaper. I was expecting a quiz on the US, but it covers Canada(!), South and Central America.

Am I just not understanding this properly? Or am I just being typically American-centric when I assume it's all about the US?

At any rate, I got a whopping 3/10 right......


Jennie said...

Whenever I heard the word America, I originally associated it with just the USA. Then I started including Canada, because I was thinking in terms of North America vs. Latin America (Mexico and everything to the south). But that's more of a linguistic boundary of English/French vs. Spanish/Portuguese.

I have noticed that Europeans tend to group both continents together. Sometimes French books will say that America is a continent, whereas I would say that North America and South America are two separate continents.

But yeah, I think the problem lies in that the continents are called the same, and there's no adjective in most languages to describe a person from the United States. United Statesian? Etats-unisien? I don't think so. LOL

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian, I would never be ok with being described as an American - it would have to be a "North American". Canadian is to American as Brazilian is to Chilean, etc. I wonder if people in South America would say they are American, or South American, or country specific?

wcs said...

I notice that on French new programs, "les Américains" always refers to people from the US.

I think the world has adopted "American" to refer the US, probably for the reasons that Jennie mentioned (lack of an easy adjective), while other American countries proudly have their own adjectives (Canadian, Brazilian, etc).

But all of this, I just realized, doesn't answer the question of what l'Amérique means. I give up. I think I'll have a glass of wine.