Thursday, July 2, 2009

My annual Fourth of July whine

Why are we the only Americans? If you've taken Spanish, you might be aware that our continental neighbors to the South bristle a bit at our arrogance in claiming sole ownership of being American. We're obliquely referred as norteamericanos, as much as we may address them as Latin Americans or South Americans; to the rest of the Spanish speaking hemisphere any citizen of the Americas is called americano.

The architect (and ego) Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the use of the adjective Usonian in place of American to describe the particular New World character of the American landscape as distinct and free of previous architectural conventions. Wright also thought that the post-WWI war America, known to Europe now as US, Uncle Sam, USA from its army initials, should be USonian. Although rarely used in the sense of "U.S. citizen", Usonian is more common than the alternatives.

It'll never happen of course. Too many of our contemporaries are wrapped up in the identity of being American. To these people, using Usonian is about as Socialist as Single-Payer health care or the public option.

No comments: