Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The United States Are

An angry ignoramus has landed on my blog today and attempted to criticize my grammar. Instead of just asking politely and then waiting to be enlightened by somebody smart (meaning the author of this blog, of course), the dufus in question decided to express a silly and uninformed criticism.

As with everything I do, there is an ideological reason why I often say "United States are" instead of "United States is." Anybody who is even marginally familiar with the history of the change from the plural to the singular verb form in the case of talking about the United States can easily understand why I use it this way.

So for those who don't know: before the Civil War (remember that pesky affair?), the common usage was "the United States ARE." After the war, this usage started to erode (gradually) and with time transformed into "the United States IS." This is commonly considered to signify a greater unity of the country achieved in the aftermath of the Civil War.

In my opinion, however, today the country is split politically, culturally, and ideologically in a very radical way. Talking about the US in the plural allows me to highlight the fact of the split without using too many words. It is an ideological statement on my part more than a statement on grammar.

I wish people could ask if there is something they don't understand instead of annoying me with gratuitous condescending remarks.


A Real American Woman said...

Quit acting like you're American. You were not born here. You came from some shitty country and are trying to act like you know everything about us. You are NOT American.

Kindly go fuck yourself.

Anonymous said...

I was going to leave a comment I thought would be insightful, but I should first say that the person who claims to be "a real American woman" disgraces her country with her intolerance by forgetting that we're a nation of immigrants. While this is somewhat cliche, this mentality recognizes that, unlike in other countries where ethnicity is a big part of nationality, being American has a lot to do with identifying as one. I don't know your own immigration status, Clarissa, or whether you've applied for citizenship, but, as far as I'm concerned, being American has much more to do with being born in America.

Anyways, so I'm curious about your logic for saying "The United States are..." Sure, racial/economic/social/cultural divides exist in this country, but those are very different from the state-based divide that we saw before the civil war. Sure, there are supposedly "red" and "blue" states, but urban Texas and rural California show that this is more complex. Even if there are other divides, as you claim, saying "The United States are..." does seem grammatically incorrect, if for the reasons you described.

Just gonna say again that "A Real American Woman" is ridiculous. She probably likes Palin.

A Real American Woman said...

Palin is a dumb media whore. Obama is just as bad.

Clarissa said...

It's weird that somebody would come here to tell me something I know extremely well myself. I am definitely not American. And unlike this weird commenter, I do know exactly where I was born. So where is the big news here? What is the actual purpose of this strange comment?

What a truly weird person.

Clarissa said...

To the smart Anonymous commenter: The situation in the US today is definitely unlike before the US Civil War. But it is a lot like the situation before the Spanish Civil War. The similarities are striking, but I sincerely hope that this country will be able to find a way out of the conflict that Spain didn't manage to find.

One of the goals of the class on Spanish Civili War that I just finished teaching was to show to my American students where such a deep ideological divide can lead. I didn't even have to make the comparison to the current situation in the US, the students saw the similarities on their own.