13 Items Labeled “American” in Other Countries

ISTOCK COLLAGE / REBECCA O'CONNELL
ISTOCK COLLAGE / REBECCA O'CONNELL

In 2016, Budweiser renamed its beer “America” for the summer, an attempt to take advantage of the wave of patriotic sentiment associated with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The creative director responsible for the rebranding explained: "We thought nothing was more iconic than Budweiser and nothing was more iconic than America."

America is certainly iconic, and a worldwide brand of sorts, but it doesn’t carry the same connotations everywhere. Here are 13 things described with “American” in other countries.

1. CINTA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN TAPE"

In Spain, the versatile, do-anything tool we call duct tape is known as cinta americana, or “American tape.”

2. POING AMÉRICAIN // "AMERICAN FIST"

In French, a set of brass knuckles are le poing américain, or “the American fist.”

3. ALFACE AMERICANA // "AMERICAN LETTUCE"

Brazilian Portuguese has the term alface americana, or “American lettuce,” to refer to iceberg lettuce—or, as my cousin Jairo informs me, “lettuce like McDonald’s uses.”

4. AMERIKANSKIE GORKI // "AMERICAN MOUNTAINS"

In Russian, roller coasters are known as amerikanskie gorki, or “American mountains.” Interestingly, in most of the Romance languages they are known as “Russian mountains.”

5. AMERIŠKA SOLATA // "AMERICAN SALAD"

The Slovenians call cole slaw ameriška solata, or “American salad,” as do other countries in Eastern Europe.

6. KHAO PAD AMERICAN // "AMERICAN FRIED RICE"

The khao pad American served in Thailand is rarely found in American Thai restaurants. The rice is fried with ketchup or tomato sauce, and might be mixed with raisins and peas. It is served with some combination of fried chicken, bacon, hot dogs, ham, and croutons. Apparently, it was created during the Vietnam War when many Americans were stationed in Thailand, and the dish went on to become Thai comfort food. 

7. AMERIKAANSE STOCK // "AMERICAN STOCK"

In Belgium, stores that carry camping and hunting equipment, tools, boots, military surplus, and sporting goods often go by Amerikaanse Stock, or “American stock.” 

8. WOLNA AMERYKANKA // "FREE AMERICAN"

Wolna amerykanka, or “free American,” is a style of catch-as-catch-can, no-restrictions wrestling in Poland. The phrase also has the more general sense of “all bets are off” or anything goes.

9. AMERIKAANSE FUIF // "AMERICAN PARTY"

In Dutch, a casual potluck where everyone brings a dish is called an amerikaanse fuif, or "American party." Brazil also uses festa americana to describe this type of event.

10. COCINA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN KITCHEN"

In Spain, the open plan style of kitchen is called an “American kitchen,” as opposed to the traditional style of kitchen closed off by a wall.

11. AMERIKANDOGGU // "AMERICAN DOG"

In Japanese, a hot dog is a hottodoggu, but a corn dog is an amerikandoggu.

12. TOVAGLIETTE ALL’AMERICANA // "AMERICAN PLACEMATS"

In Italian, a tovaglia is a table cloth. A tovaglietta all’americana, literally "little American tablecloth," is a placemat. In Brazil, placemats are also considered American; sets of them are called jogo americano, or “American set.”

13. AMERIKAANSE TOESTANDEN // "AMERICAN CONDITIONS"

The Dutch have an easy phrase to pull out when talking about huge gaps between rich and poor, lack of healthcare or education access, school shootings, or a range of other situations, including, probably, cans of beer labeled “America.” Amerikaanse toestanden, or “American conditions,” are something to be warned against, as in, “let’s be careful with this decision and not get ourselves a bad case of American conditions.”

The One Letter in the Alphabet That Can't Be Silent

Hafiez Razali, iStock via Getty Images
Hafiez Razali, iStock via Getty Images

The English language can be baffling at times—just look to words like phlegm, receipt, and chthonic for proof. Silent letters are unavoidable. Almost every word in the alphabet is occasionally guilty of taking up space without contributing anything, but there is one exception. According to Merriam-Webster, V is the only letter in English that consistently makes itself heard.

No matter where it appears, whether it's in love, voice, or divisive, V plays a vital role. Most letters are phonetic chameleons: That's why the C sounds different in cat and city, and why the g sounds like nothing at all in gnash. V is unique in that it never goes through an identity crisis.

There are a few letters that rival V's special status. Z is only silent in words we borrowed from the French, like chez, laissez-faire, and rendezvous. The one silent J in the entire English language appears in marijuana, a term of Spanish origin. But even accounting for words we've adopted from other tongues, there's not one example of a silent V in the English dictionary.

The prevalence of silent letters is just one frustrating aspect of our language. Here are a few more obstacles foreign speakers must encounter when learning English.

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

welcomia/iStock via Getty Images
welcomia/iStock via Getty Images

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the more than 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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