Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yank vs. Yankee

Many British use the word “Yank” to refer to Americans. Some Americans, most notably those who are not of the New England pre-revolutionary heritage, take umbrage to that. However, it needs to be clarified that the British (and consequently Irish/Australian (and NZ?) term “Yank” is not the same as the term “Yankee”. Actually, most British and their colonial subjects almost never use “Yankee” at all.

“Yank” means a person who is either a US citizen by birth or naturalization, or anyone who has spent significant time in the US and who displays American cultural characteristics that are obvious to the British, the Irish, Aus, (and New Zealanders?)

Sometimes, because of the predilection of many Brits for rhyming slang, an American (or anyone who has spent time in America) is called a Plank (Yank- Plank), or by another derivative- “Planker”. Examples- “He is a Plank, a plain Yank”. Or – “A bunch of Plankers came to look at the castle yesterday”.

Most often the term is used neutrally and endearingly, but rarely as a pejorative. One should not get offended. However, when someone calls a Texan a Yankee, you can let them have a piece of your mind. But this is very unlikely to be coming from the nations that are comfortable with “Yank”.

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