I don't read or post to this group very often, but I saw a phrase used in the local newspaper this week that got me scratching my head.

The article referred to people of African decent living on a local university campus here in Canada as "African-Americans". Is this a correct term? Although technically, Canada is a part of the Americas, I usually see that term used to refer to people living in the United States. It seems to me "African-Canadians", or even just "Africans" ("Asians" was used in the same article without any modification) would be more appropriate.

JPK

J.P. Kirby, Captain of all Obvious!
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people of African descent living on a local university campus here in Canada as "African-Americans". Is this a correct term?

Were they Canadians or, perhaps, citizens of the United States who were going to school in Canada?
If the former, it would appear that this is instance #398,877,267 of politically correct speech gone awry.
GHaar
people of African descent living on a local university campus here in Canada as "African-Americans". Is this a correct term?

Were they Canadians or, perhaps, citizens of the United States who were going to school in Canada?

Very few (if any of them) were U.S. citizens. I know one person interviewed in the story personally, and he's a citizen of Botswana!

JPK

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I don't read or post to this group very often, but I saw a phrase used in the local newspaper ... "African-Canadians", or even just "Africans" ("Asians" was used in the same article without any modification) would be more appropriate. JPK

The American media seems unable to refer to black people as anything other than african-americans.
I recall a report just after the Waco siege when a black British relative of one cult members travelled to the US and was interviewed at the scene and was refered to as an african-american, much to his dismay.

Julian

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I don't read or post to this group very often, ... same article without any modification) would be more appropriate. JPK

The American media seems unable to refer to black people as anything other than african-americans.

Examples do exist, but a discussion a few years ago showed they're not as routine as all that. Perhaps you'd care to back up your claim with some URLs to news articles?
I recall a report just after the Waco siege when a black British relative of one cult members travelled to the US and was interviewed at the scene and was refered to as an african-american, much to his dismay.

It happens. People tend to forget the etymological significance of terms used frequently, and use them without thinking of their precise meaning.

Donna Richoux
The American media seems unable to refer to black people as anything other than african-americans.

Examples do exist, but a discussion a few years ago showed they're not as routine as all that. Perhaps you'd care to back up your claim with some URLs to news articles?

Well, although not news, but still typical of what I've seen out there several times:
http://www.arhoolie.com/titles/7032.shtml
If Cubans are Americans, what's all the fuss been about for the last 40-odd years?
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It happens. People tend to forget the etymological significance of terms used frequently, and use them without thinking of their precise meaning. Donna Richoux

"People"? Do you mean journalists? You seem to be excusing them. Say it ain't so. Don't you think they ought to be chastised for sloppiness?

Cheers, Sage
(Snip)

It happens. People tend to forget the etymological significance of terms used frequently, and use them without thinking of their precise meaning. Donna Richoux

"People"? Do you mean journalists?

Anybody. Journalists. Ordinary people.
You seem to be excusing them. Say it ain't so. Don't you think they ought to be chastised for sloppiness?

Chastised? I guess so. They shouldn't call black people who aren't Americans "African-Americans," and if there is someway to tell them (letters to editor, email, etc) then it's quite reasonable to tell them so. I remember when this came up before, we did write to a web page that called black South African women "African-Americans." I think they told RF they would revise the page, although I don't remember that anyone made a follow-up check. That could be tracked down.

As for excusing, I don't think that it is "excusing" a mistake to say that that sort of thing happens often, not only in that form but in other forms, where the semantic content of a term is overlooked due to frequent use. That may be "explaining" or "accounting for," but it is not "excusing." To say that a mistake is understandable doesn't make it right.
It's the same linguistic principle that allows us to "dial" phones that no longer have "dials." At a certain point, the meaning is attached to something different than what it was attached to originally.

I don't think the process is inherently good or bad, it's just a natural process. In the case of "African-American," the mistake does not go unchecked, probably because the erroneous "American" element is not some obscure syllable but a well-known actively-used name. People spot it. They correct themselves before they speak, or before they publish the utterance, or they are immediately corrected by their neighbor. Yet, still, people, in the regions where that name has been designated the socially approved term, see a black face and think "africanamerican." It's become an automatic seven-syllable word.
I wish I could think of linguistic parallels, but I'm coming up blank. Times when you, out of habit, come up with the name of something that is almost right, but eventually realize it doesn't fit literally. Something like "antisemitic" not really referring to the "Semites" any more.

Best Donna Richoux
Were they Canadians or, perhaps, citizens of the United States who were going to school in Canada?

What do you call Canadians who emigrate to the U.S.? Canadian-Americans? Or maybe it only goes Continent-Continent, so it would be African-Australian.
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