by Volker Weber

Peon: I think she's Indian.
Boss: American Indian? We don't have a lot of those!
Peon: No, Asian Indian.
Boss: They have Indians in Asia?!

5th and Market Streets
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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This is actually a difference in language. If you say Asian to American's they will never think of Indians, Pakistanis etc. They tend to think Japanese, Korean, Chinese etc. Whereas in the UK, if you say Asian, it covers all those regions.

Carl Tyler, 2007-09-04

How do Americans call the part of Asia which is not inhabited by Japanese, Korean, Chinese etc.?

Volker Weber, 2007-09-04

Ripe for invasion?

Kerr Rainey, 2007-09-04

We call India, India, and Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, etc. is part of the Middle East. At least that's how they teach it here.

Rod Westwood, 2007-09-04

And, just so that I have the complete picture: What are, according to current teaching, the inhabitants of India to be called so to not confuse them with American Indians? Native Indian Indians? Or is this to be derived from the context? (Really curious for we have different names for either over here)

Stefan Rubner, 2007-09-04

My language (Portuguese) makes it simple. We have to words: 'Indios' for American Indians and 'Indianos' for the ones from India. Easy.

Vitor Pereira, 2007-09-04

Vitor, what about the people from Indiana :-D

Carl Tyler, 2007-09-04

The term used in Americal schools is Native American not American Indian. (I learned recently that Canadians use the term First Nations people).

In the US, Asian is primarily used to refer to East Asians. Historically, the term replaced "Oriental" which is now considered to be outdated.

Bob Congdon, 2007-09-04

Carl, probably "Indiananos" ;-)

Martin Hiegl, 2007-09-04

What about them Carl? :-)

Vitor Pereira, 2007-09-04

@Kerr.... That was funny :-P

Stuart McIntyre, 2007-09-04

Carl, that is an easy one: Gringos. :-)

Volker Weber, 2007-09-04

Volker: "East Indians" was the term for a long time, but it was not limited to people from the area that is India today. That term covered all of India and Southeast Asia. And the term has mostly fallen by the wayside after the British influence in the region faded. The phrase "Indian subcontinent" is still sometimes used to refer to the region, but we don't refer to the people there as "Indian subcontinentals". I really can't think of any other general phrase that we would use, and given the ethnic diversity of the region it may not be a bad thing. As far as the other parts of Asia, "Central Asian" and Southeast Asian" are pretty well understood by Americans, although I would guess that the majority of Americans couldn't accurately classify most of the countries that are in those regions. (Remember: we don't have maps ;-))

Carl and Vitor: Folks from Indiana are "Hoosiers".

Richard Schwartz, 2007-09-04

In case you wondered...

"... Indian was the name Columbus mistakenly applied to the people he encountered when he arrived in what he believed was the "Indies," the medieval name for Asia."


Joydeep Gupta, 2007-09-05

I doubt this. Although he did mistake America for "the Indies" I'm not so sure he coined the term "Indian" or even used "the Indies" when referring to what we (over here in Europe) call Asia. That's because he was (most likely) Italian, sailing for the Spanish crown and that makes it very unlikely he used English as his preferred language. But then, I may be completely mistaken there for I'm no historian.

Stefan Rubner, 2007-09-05

At least that's what we were taught in high school. Translation of his letters do mention "Indians" and "the Indies".


Joydeep Gupta, 2007-09-06

Yup, we were (are) taught the same thing. What intrigues me is that in my language there's "Indianer" for American Indians and "Inder" for Indian Indians. Maybe the "problem" is that English is lacking some degree of flection here so there was no easy way to come up with a distinguished term for either once Columbus' mistake was discovered. Or the people at that time didn't think that there was a need for a change anyway so it stuck. Or maybe it's the historic version of "Lost in translation" ;)

Stefan Rubner, 2007-09-06

Apu: Today, I am no longer an Indian living in America. I am an Indian-American.
Lisa: You know, in a way, all Americans are immigrants. Except, of course Native Americans.
Homer: Yeah, Native Americans like us.
Lisa: No, I mean American Indians.
Apu: Like me.

Alan Bell, 2007-09-06

@Alan: made my day (ok, at least my morning)...

Armin Auth, 2007-09-06

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