The Info List - Naming Of America

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The NAMING OF THE AMERICAS, or AMERICA occurred shortly after Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
's voyage to the Americas
in 1492. It is generally accepted that the name derives from Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
, the Italian explorer, who explored the new continents in the following years. However, some have suggested other explanations, such as the theory that it was named after Richard Amerike of Bristol


* 1 Usage * 2 Earliest use of name * 3 Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
* 4 Named after a Nicaraguan mountain range * 5 Richard Amerike * 6 Native naming of the continent * 7 Notes * 8 Bibliography * 9 External links


In modern English, North and South America are generally considered separate continents, and taken together are called the Americas
in the plural, parallel to similar situations such as the Carolinas . When conceived as a unitary continent, the form is generally the continent of America in the singular. However, without a clarifying context, singular America in English commonly refers to the United States of America .


World map of Waldseemüller (Germany, 1507), which first used the name America (in the lower-left section, over South America)

The earliest known use of the name America dates to April 25, 1507, where it was applied to what is now known as South America. It appears on a small globe map with twelve time zones, together with the largest wall map made to date, both created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in France. These were the first maps to show the Americas
as a land mass separate from Asia. An accompanying book, Cosmographiae Introductio , anonymous but apparently written by Waldseemüller's collaborator Matthias Ringmann , states, "I do not see what right any one would have to object to calling this part , after Americus who discovered it and who is a man of intelligence, Amerigen, that is, the Land of Americus, or America: since both Europa and Asia got their names from women".


Americus Vesputius was the Latinized version of the explorer Amerigo Vespucci 's name, the forename being an old Italianization
(compare modern Italian Enrico ) of Medieval Latin
Emericus (see Saint Emeric of Hungary ), from the Germanic forenames Amalric and Emmerich (however, the Old High German
Old High German
name Haimirich may also be a source), from Proto-Germanic
*amal (“vigor, bravery”) or *heim ("home") + *rik (“ruler”).

Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
(March 9, 1454 – February 22, 1512) was an Italian explorer , financier , navigator and cartographer who first demonstrated that Brazil
and the West Indies
West Indies
did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus\' voyages , but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to the Europeans.

Vespucci was apparently unaware of the use of his name to refer to the new landmass, as Waldseemüller's maps did not reach Spain until a few years after his death. Ringmann may have been misled into crediting Vespucci by the widely published Soderini Letter, a sensationalized version of one of Vespucci's actual letters reporting on the mapping of the South American coast, which glamorized his discoveries and implied that he had recognized that South America was a continent separate from Asia; in fact, it is not known what Vespucci believed on this count, and he may have died believing, like Columbus, that he had reached the East Indies in Asia rather than a new continent. Spain officially refused to accept the name America for two centuries, saying that Columbus should get credit, and Waldseemüller's later maps, after Ringmann's death, did not include it; however, usage was established when Gerardus Mercator
Gerardus Mercator
applied the name to the entire New World in his 1538 world map. Acceptance may have been aided by the "natural poetic counterpart" that the name America made with Asia, Africa, and Europa.


In 1875 Jules Marcou
Jules Marcou
suggested that the name America derives from indigenous American languages where “Amerrique” originally named a prominent mountain range in present-day Nicaragua.

In this view, Native speakers shared this indigenous word with Columbus and members of his crew and Columbus made landfall in the vicinity of these mountain on his fourth voyage. The name America then spread via oral means throughout Europe relatively quickly even reaching the cartogopher Waldseemüller who was preparing a map of newly reported lands for publication in 1507. Waldseemüller 's work in the area of denomination takes on a different aspect in this view:

The baptismal passage in the Cosmographiae Introductio has commonly been read as argument, in which the author said that he was naming the newly discovered continent in honor of Vespucci and saw no reason for objections. But, as etymologist Joy Rea has suggested, it could also be read as explanation, in which he indicates that he has heard the New World was called America, and the only explanation lay in Vespucci's name.

Among the reasons proponents give in adopting this theory include the recognition of “the simple fact that place names usually originate informally in the spoken word and first circulate that way, not in the printed word.” In addition, Waldseemüller not only is exonerated from the charge of having arrogated to himself the privilege of naming lands, which privilege was reserved to monarchs and actual explorers, but also is freed from the charge of violating the long-established and virtually inviolable ancient European tradition of using only the first name of royal individuals as opposed to the last name of commoners (such as Vespucci) in bestowing names to lands.


A Bristol
antiquarian Alfred Hudd suggested in 1908 that the name was derived from the surname "Amerike" or "ap Meryk" and was used on early British maps that have since been lost. Richard ap Meryk, anglicised to Richard Amerike (or Ameryk) (c. 1445–1503) was a wealthy English merchant, royal customs officer and sheriff of Bristol. According to some historians, he was the principal owner of the Matthew , the ship sailed by John Cabot
John Cabot
during his voyage of exploration to North America in 1497. The idea that Richard Amerike was a 'principal supporter' of Cabot has gained popular currency in the 21st century. There is no known evidence to support this. Similarly, and contrary to a recent tradition that names Amerike as principal owner and main funder of the Matthew, Cabot's ship of 1497, academic enquiry does not connect Amerike with the ship. Her ownership at that date remains uncertain. It is not even clear whether the ship was a new-build or purchased second-hand.

Hudd proposed his theory in a paper which was read at 21 May 1908 meeting of the Clifton Antiquarian
Club, and which appeared in Volume 7 of the club's Proceedings. In "Richard Ameryk and the name America," Hudd discussed the 1497 discovery of North America by John Cabot
John Cabot
, an Italian who had sailed on behalf of England. Upon his return to England after his first (1497) and second (1498–1499) voyages, Cabot received two pension payments from King Henry VII
King Henry VII
. Of the two customs officials at the Port of Bristol
who were responsible for handing over the money to Cabot, the more senior was Richard Ameryk (High Sheriff of Bristol
in 1503). Hudd postulated that Cabot named the land that he had discovered after Ameryk, from whom he received the pension conferred by the king. He stated that Cabot had a reputation for being free with gifts to his friends, such that his expression of gratitude to the official would not be unexpected. Further, Hudd used a quote from a late 15th-century manuscript (a calendar of Bristol
events), the original of which had been lost in an 1860 Bristol
fire, that indicated the name America was already known in Bristol
in 1497.

This year (1497), on St. John the Baptist's day (June 24th), the land of America was found by the merchants of Bristow, in a ship of Bristowe called the 'Mathew,' the which said ship departed from the port of Bristowe the 2nd of May and came home again the 6th August following.

Hudd reasoned that the scholars of the 1507 Cosmographiae Introductio, unfamiliar with Richard Ameryk, assumed that the name America, which he claimed had been in use for ten years, was based on Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
and, therefore, mistakenly transferred the honour from Ameryk to Vespucci. While Hudd's speculation has found support from some authors, there is no strong evidence to substantiate his theory that Cabot named America after Richard Ameryk.

Moreover, because Amerike's coat of arms was similar to the flag later adopted by the independent United States, a legend grew that the North American continent had been named for him rather than for Amerigo Vespucci. It is not widely accepted.


Naming the continent after a European colonizer is seen by some civil society groups as problematic. In 1977, the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (Consejo Mundial de Pueblos Indígenas) proposed using the term Abya Yala instead of "America" when referring to the continent. There are also names in other indigenous languages such as Ixachilan and Runa Pacha. Some scholars have picked up the term with a reference to the illegitimacy of colonialism.


* ^ "America." The Oxford Companion to the English Language (ISBN 0-19-214183-X ). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 33: ". Since the 16c, a name of the western hemisphere, often in the plural Americas
and more or less synonymous with the New World. Since the 18c, a name of the United States of America. The second sense is now primary in English: ... However, the term is open to uncertainties: ..." * ^ A B "Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii alioruque lustrationes.". Archived from the original on January 9, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2014. * ^ Martin Waldseemüller. "Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii alioruque lustrationes.". Washington, DC: Library of Congress. LCCN 2003626426 . Retrieved April 18, 2014. * ^ A B C Toby Lester, December (2009). "Putting America on the Map". Smithsonian. 40: 9. * ^ Harrison, Henry (2017-02-08). Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary. Genealogical Publishing Com. ISBN 9780806301716 . * ^ "UK Magazine The map that changed the world". BBC
News. October 28, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2010. * ^ ""Origin of the Name America" by Jules Marcou, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1875". UNZ.org. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ ""Origin of the Name America" by Jules Marcou, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1875". UNZ.org. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ "The Naming of America". www.uhmc.sunysb.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ "The Naming of America". www.uhmc.sunysb.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ "The Naming of America". www.uhmc.sunysb.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ "The Naming of America". www.uhmc.sunysb.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ Rea, Joy (1964-01-01). "On the Naming of America". American Speech. 39 (1): 42–50. doi :10.2307/453925 . * ^ ""Origin of the Name America" by Jules Marcou, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1875". UNZ.org. Retrieved 2017-03-19. * ^ A B C D E F MacDonald, Peter (17 February 2011). " BBC
History in Depth; The Naming of America; Richard Amerike". BBC
History website. BBC
. Retrieved 24 February 2011. * ^ Evan T. Jones, "The Matthew of Bristol
and the financiers of John Cabot\'s 1497 voyage to North America", English Historical Review (2006) * ^ A B C D "The Naming of America: Fragments We\'ve Shored Against Ourselves". uhmc.sunysb.edu. Jonathan Cohen, Stony Brook University. Retrieved 10 July 2012. * ^ A B C Alfred E. Hudd, F.S.A., Hon. Secretary. "Richard Ameryk and the name America" (PDF). Proceedings of the Clifton Antiquarian Club. VII: 8–24. Retrieved 11 July 2012. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ Quinn, David B. (1990). Explorers and Colonies: America, 1500-1625. A&C Black. p. 398. ISBN 9781852850241 . Retrieved 12 February 2016. * ^ Julia Roth. Latein/Amerika, in: Susan Arndt and Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard: Wie Rassismus aus Wörtern spricht. Unrast-Verlag.


* The Columbus Myth: Did Men of Bristol
Reach America before Columbus? Ian Wilson (1974; reprint 1991: ISBN 0-671-71167-9 ) * Terra Incognita: The True Story of How America Got Its Name, Rodney Broome (US 2001: ISBN 0-944638-22-8 ) * Amerike: The Briton America Is Named After, Rodney Broome (UK 2002: ISBN 0-7509-2909-X )


* "The man who