England is an island?
The question mark says it all! I come from Wales which is mostly part of the SAME island as most of England and Scotland(i.e. Great Britain). Together with Northern Ireland, we make up the United Kingdom.
I HAD to say something after I was FORCED to write "England is an island" when translating "Inglaterra es una isla"!
Except that there's no such word. As "United States of Americans" we were the first "American" nation, and for whatever reason, that is the name that stuck with us for decades before most of the hemisphere's other countries even existed. It really seems to be a South American hangup and is usually pushed by their left-wing governments who need to rile up their people against the USA.
I know French and Dutch and, hell, even Brazilian Portuguese, and many other languages that are spoken in the Americas (except for some Spanish speakers in Hispanic America) all refer to us as "Americans" in their own languages. Hispanics also do in many widely used terms like "futbol americano," so this seems to be a manufactured controversy. Similarly, every language calls citizens of South Africa "South Africans" and citizens of the Central African Republic "Central Africans" even though they aren't the only countries in their regions. "Australia" isn't the only country in the continent of Australia. "Malaysia" isn't the only Malay country in Asia, "India" isn't the only country on the Indian subcontinent, and etc, etc.
I was recently attempting to tell friends in Canada about how this is an issue for Spanish speakers in some Latino countries, and asked them their feelings. They told me it's considered an insult to be called "Americans" in Canada because the insinuation is that they are nothing more than a part of the USA. A 51st state. They told me they are NOT "Americans" (not even in the continental sense of the word); they are Canadians. If we're talking about their continent, it's North America. Anything else suggests the US.
It's one of those situations that we Americans will never be able to win. Some nation/culture somewhere will be complaining no matter what we did. And, besides, it's a moot point anyway since the evolution of American English is not dictated to us by anyone inside or outside our country. It's an organic process, and since the overwhelming majority of languages around the world refer to us as the "American" people, and there's no other demonym for us in the English language, it doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.
To us, "Americans" are people from the USA, "North Americans" and "South Americans" are people from the North and South American continents, respectively. And the entire region made up of the two continents is known as "The Americas".
Yes, a lot of history and facts throw out that doesn't refutes the point I'm making, which is calling a nation the same way a continent is called is very ambiguous.
Like you pointed yourself:
" To us, "Americans" are people from the USA, "North Americans" and "South Americans" are people from the North and South American continents, respectively. And the entire region made up of the two continents is known as "The Americas". "
Depending on the perspective you are looking at, we, and the rest of the people living under this huge mass of land called America, are americans as well .
Lets imagine the rebels of east Ukraine win their independence and they proclaim them self as the country of "United states of Europe" .I'm sure you will agree with me that it will very confusing trying to actually speak about this new country and their "europeans" inhabitants ?.
"which is calling a nation the same way a continent is called is very ambiguous."
Except that in English, we don't usually refer to either continent or the two continents together as "America". So there is no ambiguity. Maybe there is in certain Spanish dialects, which is why I tend to use "americano" to mean a resident of the two continents and "estadounidense" to mean a US resident. When I am speaking Spanish.
I don't try to dictate Spanish rules to people who speak a language that is theirs, not mine. So why should we English speakers have to forcefully try to change our language to appease the minority of Latin Americans who take offense? Especially when the Spanish language isn't immune to its own cultural insensitivities and cultural biases.
For example, the Spanish language refers to the entire UK and/or Great Britain as "Inglaterra", to the Netherlands as "Holland", to New York City as "Nueva York", to Germany as "Alemania, the Faulklands as the "Malvinas", to Myanmar as "Birmania", Ivory Coast as "Costa de Marfil" instead of using its official French name, etc, etc.
And Hispanics refer to themselves as "Latino" despite the fact that Portuguese, Romanians, Italians, and French are also Latin peoples, and the fact that "Latino" is a town and province in Italy, which is where the term originated. And you refer to the entire American landmass minus the US and Canada as "Latin America", despite the fact that Brazil and Haiti and French Guiana aren't Hispanic, and Aruba, Suriname, Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad, etc are Germanic.
My point is that we could all be complaining that there's a lot that the Spanish language and Latin America does that could be considered ignorant of and offensive to other groups of (continental) Americans. But you don't see anyone trying to force changes upon the Spanish language because of it.
"Lets imagine the rebels of east Ukraine win their independence and they proclaim them self as the country of "United states of Europe" .I'm sure you will agree with me that it will very confusing trying to actually speak about this new country and their "europeans" inhabitants ?"
The EU is often referred to as "Europe" or "the European countries." Even though many continental European countries aren't in the EU. It's not confusing as long as the context is understood. I understand that sometimes we (English speakers) refer to people from the hemisphere as a whole as "Americans," But more often than not we'll either name specific, individual nations or break down the hemisphere into regions like South America, Latin America, North America, Central America, the West Indies, the Caribbean, Anglo-America, etc.
This is just the way it is in English. If there is a possible ambiguity, then "America" will most likely mean the country of the US of America. It's the same how in Spanish you sometimes call us the EEUU and sometimes America, and usually when "America" is ambiguous in the Spanish language it will mean the two continents in general. But you are not confused when you hear terms like "futbol americano". It's all about each individual language's context.
Problem is, the USA isn't the only United States on the continent; there's also los Estados Unidos Mexicanos. The USA is, however, the only country with the term America prominently used in its title. Calling residents of the USA Americans isn't really any more anomalous than calling residents of los Estados Unidos Mexicanos mexicano instead of estadounidense.
One of the problems is that there isn't a logical, natural-sounding alternative to refer to residents of the United States of America. Additionally, the term "American" has pretty much been used since the beginning of the colonial period.
There have, of course, been other names suggested to replace the term (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_for_United_States_citizens#Alternative_terms) but none of them have caught on as yet.
I actually had an embarrassing situation where I was trying to explain to a native Spanish speaker something about Americans using the word "americano", and he just didn't get what I was saying (I suppose he was thinking of South America). From that point on, I was always careful to use "estadounidense" to describe Americans.
What is really funny is that Hawaiians are not even in North, Central nor South America, but they, as part of the United States of America, are also called Americans.
Why take away our identity and call us United States people which could be from any country of united states. We could have been confused with any country starting with US, even the old USSR? I have nothing against Canadians calling themselves Americans or any other country from North America, South America or Central America. The Americas referred to all the land mass in the Western Hemisphere from the mapmaker Amerigo Vespucci who sailed along the coast of South America in 1501. Maybe the term for everyone could be 'Americasan'. Okay, that will never catch on. Please note that the specific terms North America, South America and Central America came after the term United States of America. So, who were identifying with whom? Why should we be penalized for being the first to call ourselves American?
We can be specific and say Americans from the USA, but other countries are often so specific that we don't have to be. In Central American countries, we do specify that we are USA citizens. We are lucky that they don't confuse us with Mexicans. Without the 'A', we would be. We are such a conglomeration of people that there are people here from all the other countries of North America, South America and Central America. Why even from most countries of the world. Maybe we should just call ourselves "earthlings" or would that be hogging the term. It is not like we are preventing other people from using the term.
The really strange thing is that AureliaUK would say "USanians" do this or that. You are lumping us together in not a racist way but using a prejudice against a particular country, when I am certainly not guilty of what you say though I am American, Californian to be specific. So you assume that Mexicans never say "Queen of England", and that only people from the USA do? People in your own country do. Do most people from the UK call themselves British or do you now want us to call you 'UKanians'?
From your own British dictionary: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/america?q=america
She is the queen of England and of so much more. It is not as though the UK is an island either. They should have said England is on an island, or picked a different example of an island.
Of course, if duoLingo got you to remember the words for "is an island" as "es una isla" then they have done their job! And bonus! I bet we don't forget "Inglaterra" means "England". So, watch out for the animal sentences too!
(Scroll down to Greg Hullender below for the correct Spanish term for the island.) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Great-Britain?q=great+britain
Oo, yes this is bad. It always makes me cringe when people when meaning to refer to the UK say "England".
In this situation, it needs to be changed to "Great Britain".
Note: Britain = England + Wales
The make-up and labelling of the islands is confusing to many of us Brits too.
I had to look it up: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/britain/britain.htm
I myself am Welsh/English.
It is something that a quick non-scientific survey of Brits from countries other than England find offensive, (I asked three Scots, two Welsh, and am Welsh myself) and seems something Duolingo could easily change. It is not on the same level as nonsense sentences about ducks drinking milk, etc. It is closer to how Basques react to their nationhood being denied, or Latino to USians assuming they are all Mexican. I would not expect foreigners to know the difference, and am not going out of my way to be offended, but it is something that should be corrected, I have no interest in how the queen is described, by the way.
This shouldn't really be that big of an issue unless you go out of your way to be offended. It's very common for other nations to use the name of the most dominant part of a country (from their perspective/historically) or the part that is geographically the closest.
I bet most of you have called the Netherlands Holland even though there are only two provinces called Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland within the Netherlands. Are the Dutch bothered? Not really.
Similarly, in a lot of languages, Germany is called Alemania/Allemagne or something similar. The alamanni were only one of the Germanic tribes and today the word "alemannisch" only refers to the south-western region of Germany and the bordering regions of France and Switzerland. Do the rest of us care? No, we don't.
In American English I do believe we referred to them as the Angles. I remembered one of the learning Youtube people joking about them. "There were so many Angles in Briton that they might as well have started calling it Angland! Angland.... England?" They're also credited with most of the non-Latin parts of English.
The Angles were a different tribe. They originated from the border region between present-day Germany and Denmark.