Foreign References to the United States's States

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dpaanlka, Sep 7, 2006.

  1. dpaanlka macrumors 601

    dpaanlka

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    #1
    Here in the USA, when visiting other areas of the country and holding a converastion with someone, you refer to where your from as the city and the state. For example "I'm from Willowbrook, Illinois." News reports usually also always reference the state, unless it is a major recognizable city like Chicago or New York. Americans also have great pride in the state in which they live, often almost on the same level as national pride.

    However whenever I watch the news make reference to foreign cities, even minor ones, the never refer to the state or province they are located in. It's always Stuttgart, Germany, not Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

    So my question is to those of you who do not live in the Untied States, do people there reference the American state in which an American city is located? Or is it just, "Willowbrook, United States"... which sounds weird to me.

    Or is there some other cultural difference that I'm not aware of?

    I thought of this as I wasn't sure how I should word my "Location" in my MR profile lol.
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #2
    Remember too that many of our states are bigger than many countries, so it's not too weird to try to narrow things down a bit.

    When I lived abroad, the city tended to get lost and the state replaced it. e.g. I knew many of my friends came from CA, IL, NY, but not the exact cities. (Unless it was a major metropolis like NYC, LA, Chicago, ...).

    B
     
  3. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #3
    British people tend to say the district (is that the right term?) they're from, if it's not a major city -- like the lake district, or Kent, Cornwall, etc.
     
  4. CyberB0b macrumors regular

    CyberB0b

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    #4
    It seems natural to say a canadian provice too, such as Calgary, Alberta instead of Calgary, Canada. Might have something to do with the size of the country (Germany is kind of small compared to Canada and US).
     
  5. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #5
    I've had other Americans ask me where St. Louis was :rolleyes: so I usually throw in the state too
     
  6. Earendil macrumors 68000

    Earendil

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    #6
    It might also have something to do with the number of cities that are spelled the same way. You can't say you're from "Springfield USA" because there are dozens of them spread all over the US. I swear in order to be a state you have to have SOME town named Springfield :rolleyes:

    I'm betting, due to size and the feasablitiy of it, that we have more small towns than most countries. That means that when I say I'm from White Salmon, no one has a friggin clue where I live, or even a general climate.
    However if I say I'm from Washington people normally get it. The other people surprising say "You live in DC?!". Yeah, like the population that actually lives in DC is anywhere near Washington state :cool:

    Cheers,
    Tyler
     
  7. Earendil macrumors 68000

    Earendil

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    #7
    So True!

    Go to a college and watch students bicker (usually in good humor) over whose state is better. Ask someone from Washington how they feel about Californians ;)
    Not to mention Jokes often times are generlized based on state, not a city or region (excluding jokes on "The South").

    State pride, at least on a daily basis, is seen far more often than country pride. Interesting that I never really thought about that before...
     
  8. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #8
    Remember what the proper name of the USA is: The United STATES of America. "State" is another word for "country" or "nation" (e.g., "head of state"). Basically, according to the Founding Fathers, the USA is supposed to act like a loose alliance of 13 (now 50) independent nations, which respect each other's laws (Full and Fair Credit) and operate under the umbrella of a Federal government which is supposed to have a minimal role in things. The state pride you mentioned is absolutely real; I am a proud North Carolinian (most of the time I'm proud, anyway) who is also an American.

    Between that oft-forgotten distinction and the fact that the US has so many duplicate place names, we usually refer to where we are from by using the city and the state name. Even a few big cities aren't immune from having their state names added, because there are smaller versions of them elsewhere in the country: For example, we have cities (towns, really) here in North Carolina called Denver and Dallas, so a news story in the newspaper here might say "Dallas, Texas" so as not to cause any confusion. There are Springfields in at least 30 states (not all 50, as is sometimes speculated).

    Anyway, that's my thoughts on this.
     
  9. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #9
    I always thought it was because most Americans were too dumb to realise that that they were talking about a foreign city if they didn't add the country ;)

    Seriously? I think it depends on the audience that you are talking to. To Londoners, I'll mention the suburb/quadrant I live in, to other Brits, I'd probably just say that I lived in London.

    I do think a lot of it also depends on how many towns in that country share the name and where regional accents aren't quite so distinct as in other places.

    Your official two letter abbreviations for the states also help the process so that while AP articles for other places tend to just have dateline as city, country, yours tend to go with the city, two letter abbrevation, US (if outside audience)
     
  10. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #10
    Well, you also have to take into consideration that the US has a LOT of cities which are named after cities in other countries. Just in New York, for example, there are cities/towns named Syracuse, Rome, Athens, and Ithaca; there are towns called Paris, Odessa, and (I believe) Moscow in Texas; Berlin and Hanover, Pennsylvania; Plymouth and Boston, Massachusetts; Venice, California; Durham, North Carolina; and so on.

    The same is true here. The person you know as a New Yorker could easily be from Soho, BedStuy, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, Chelsea (yes, there's a Chelsea in NYC), Harlem (named for a city in the Netherlands), etc.

    I'm amazed that the UK doesn't have a similar system (in addition to the postal codes).
     
  11. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #11
    Post Codes tend to help a lot to identify where someone lives in England, at least, for me. As well, I can locate someone across the U.S.A. by Zip Code without too much help since they flow from low numbers in the east to higher numbers in the west. Social security numbers follow a similar pattern from what I've seen, depending on where you got your card.
     
  12. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #12
    Postcodes are a great help in some areas but I'm not sure you'd use to them to describe where you live unless you were talking to someone who knew the area well. And when you get into rural areas, they're not as accurate to pinpoint somone. An IV postcode could span a several hundred miles.

    We do have short names for some counties - Lancs, Beds etc but they're not as handily uniform as the two character state names
     
  13. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #13
    There's a science fiction novel (Mother of Storms, by John Barnes; superhurricane-decimates-everything story) in which, in the not-too-distant future, a semi-disintegration of the US causes people to start calling some states by their postal abbreviations... but they pronounce them like words instead of letters. So, you might be from the Az (Arizona), the Ak (Alaska), the Utt (Utah), or the Id (Idaho).
     
  14. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #14
    I like it :D Although perhaps that's because I remember various people over here pronouncing them like that while reading out addresses :rolleyes:

    However I've just heard the UK NFL studio team say that the Dolphins were heading to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania rather than just saying they were going to Pittsburgh.
     
  15. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #15
    Most of our states are about twice as big as the biggest state in the US but we only have a handful of big cities and a smattering of smaller cities. Everybody knows where they are. Most people know where even the big and medium sized towns are too so our news programs often leave out the state. Only if the town is small or relatively unknown will it have the state in which it's located named.

    Also, in the US it often feels like the states are really just little countries all to themselves that like to meet up every-so-often at a big gathering. Our states are basically just lines on a map, they are all different yes but not to the extreme of the US states. Sometimes even US towns or counties feel like they're operating to their own beat, like even tinier countries. I know the Lord Mayor of Sydney's name but I'm buggered if I can tell you my own city's Lord Mayor or even the mayor of the town I grew up in.

    Towns here mean bugger all, states mean a fair bit but we're really heavily federalised. They're are often calls to abolish the state governments all together.

    I always find it amazing when in the US just how small the states on the east coast really are, you can go through heaps of them in just a few hours. I takes me 6 hours just to get to my closest state border (not counting the ACT) and then another 3 or 4 to get to that state's capital city. And then there's Canada with provinces that dwarf even the entire Aussie eastern seaboard.

    In summary, unless the town is very small the state in which it is located won't be mentioned. We know where all the big towns and cities are.
     
  16. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #16
    I'm guessing that's because most folks in the UK don't have a lot of knowledge about where in the US certain cities are. Just as we all know where London is and you all know where NY and LA are, there are smaller big cities (Manchester, Atlanta, etc.) that we've heard of but can't necessarily point out on a map.
     
  17. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #17
    It may often be the case that identifying the state/county/region when speaking of a city in another country isn't especially important. For example, if a European hears news about a U.S. event in St. Louis, and they don't know where St. Louis is, it may not matter to them which state it's in. And if they do know where it is, they don't need to be told.

    The same is true for non-U.S. cities. If we read about the "Beer Festival in Stuttgart, Germany" then knowing that Stuttgart is in Germany may be good enough for a casual reader here in the U.S.

    On the other hand, sometimes the exact location of a city is quite important. For example, if you don't know what state a city is in, you wouldn't know how to judge news from that city about storms in the Gulf of Mexico. And in the Middle East, it's often very important to know how far a city is from the border with a neighboring country.

    Americans tend to know less about other countries than people in other countries know about the U.S., so there's a better chance that people around the world will know that Los Angeles and New York are on the west and east coasts, compared to how much (make that how little) Americans know about cities in other countries. American students have enough trouble learning which continents other countries are in, much less details about provinces. It would clearly help if our kids learned more world geography in school.

    I suspect that most news that people read abroad about "Washington" is about Washington, DC, and that people just assume this. Here in California, Washington state might be in our (regional) news while Washingon, DC would be in our national news, so our newscasters have to distinguish it, but some people around the world might not even realize we have a Washington state!
     
  18. Queso macrumors G4

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    #18
    It's more about whether the US city or town is sufficiently famous to stand on it's own two feet. For instance, Atlanta is big enough that everyone in the UK knows where it is (thanks to REM and the Olympics I would guess) so we don't need to stick the Georgia bit on. Same with Chicago, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami etc.

    However, when the city or town isn't sufficiently famous or if it's named after a more familiar location we stick on the state to put it into a context as to where it is.

    Most Europeans do have a fair idea of where each state is, certainly better than the average American has of where European countries are. But then your political geography doesn't change with the seasons like ours does :p
     
  19. Mal macrumors 603

    Mal

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    #19
    Not sure how that'd work for FL. ;)

    jW
     
  20. n-abounds macrumors 6502a

    n-abounds

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    #20
    I'm pretty sure there are 48 Springfields...one in every contiguous state.
     
  21. dejo Moderator

    dejo

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    #21
    Unfortunately, American news programs and other shows will frequently leave off the province when referring to Canadian cities. I heard plenty of "Edmonton, Canada" during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. But, that's understandable, right? As Homer said it best: "Marge, anyone can miss Canada, all tucked away down there."
     
  22. CyberB0b macrumors regular

    CyberB0b

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    #22
    anyone can miss the second largest country in the world
     
  23. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    #23
    I wouldn't put too much faith in our NHL coverage, especially now that it's pretty much banished to the Lance Armstrong channel.

    I think the fact that Homer can miss it is the joke.
     
  24. patrick0brien macrumors 68040

    patrick0brien

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    #24
    I hope I add something useful to this conversation.

    The reason why states of this country may be known better than other countries' provinces, states, etc. is that it starts at the very structure of how the nation is built, that, appropriately, is seen in the very name of the country.

    What many folks refer to as 'America' is properly called the "United States of America".

    This thought may jar a bit, but Canadians are Americans, Mexicans are Americans, Brazillians are Americans, folks in French Guiana are Americans. 'America' is the geographic name of the entire continental system named for Amerigo Vespucci.

    The USA is called what it is due to the union of separate states (as started by the union of the 13 colonies at the beginning), ergo it is natural, and accurate, for persons to be aware of the names of states as it is the very basis of how the country is structured. The states are what is the country, and the country is the composite of the states, the two are not seperable.
     
  25. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    #25
    Also, the loyalty of Americans to their states is actually not as strong as it used to be. The post-Civil War Reconstruction period and the New Deal were major expansions of the federal government's influence. Before each of those events, the federal government's impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans was much smaller than it is now. Almost the only time the feds touched them personally was through the post office. Unless there was a war on, federal spending usually didn't impact them. (For better or worse.)

    Before the Civil War, people often referred to themselves as Virginians or Marylanders instead of Americans. "United States" was also treated grammatically as plural. ("The United States are....") Now most people consider themselves Americans first and we say the U.S "is".
     

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