? asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 5 months ago

Why can't people understand that the word "America" does NOT have the same meaning in English and Spanish?

I speak English and Spanish but many of my Spanish speaking only relatives don't seem to understand that the word "America" means two separate things in English and in Spanish.  In English, America refers to the United States but in Spanish it refers to both North and South America together.  Although when Spanish speaking people say the word "americano" they are referring to your stereotypical non-ethnic type Americans.  

So I searched of "Map of America" in Google and it only shows the US.  But when I search up "Mapa de America" it shows both North and South America.  So why don't people get that "America" means different things in different languages.  But it seems like people want to believe only their own point of view.  There are plenty of similar words that mean different things in English and Spanish...embarazada/embarrassed, assistir/asist, molestar/molest, actual/actual, exito/exit, etc.  

English speaking people will argue that it's the United States only.  Spanish speaking people will argue that it refers to the entire hemisphere.  So why can't people get it that "America" in English is not the same as "America" in Spanish or other languages?  Yes, America is only the United States in ENGLISH but America includes Mexico, Canada, Brazil, etc. in Spanish.  So when speaking English, this is America and Mexico is not.  When speaking Spanish, Mexico tambien es America.

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2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    I am pretty sure that when both north and south America are referenced by the same word it is plural.

    This is not English against the Spanish (or several other languages), because to an Englishman the rebellious colonies has a different name.

    In American English, it depends on the context. Nit pickers in Y/A often point out that Canadians and Mexicans are also American (as well as several other countries).

    So like  I said it is not a universal truth that US English speaking peoples don't understand the concept of North America and South America.

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Yes, there is no such country as America.  The Americas are the new world, both south and north America.  A group of colonies banded together as separate states where they used to be separately governed, and created the United States of America, but America still meant all of the new world. 

    It was the British who referred to their colonies as America, but because they were mainly in the North American continent, it came to informally mean just the area of their colonies to them, and it stuck in the English language.  The reality is, everybody in North and South America are Americans, just as everybody from Asia is Asian and Europeans come from Europe.

    Because this was only an English terms, other countries did not adopt the terms of American to mean from the USA.

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