"Yank", of course being short for "Yankee". It originated as a Britishism
in the American War of Independence, thought pejorative by the King's men
but adopted as a badge of honor by the American side. In the American Civil
War (1861 to 1865), or War Between the States as it is sometimes called by
those south of the Mason-Dixon line, "Yankees" referred to the northern
side. The southerners (certain white southerners), who were defeated in
that war, then refrained from usage of the term "Yankee" for themselves,
unless it was pejorative.
Overseas we all are often called "Yanks", especially in British-influenced
areas, without differentiating between the sides of the old Civil War
divide. The Mason-Dixon line split has tended to fade in the past years,
although remnants are still seen. A white southerner, even one with modern
views on racial matters, still might not think of himself as a "Yank" or a
"Yankee" unless he is outside the US. "Yankee" is often a pejorative name
for an American in Latin America, especially among left wingers. It is a
loaded term as you can see.
Then there are the New York Yankees, an American baseball team with many
sports rivalries, a dominant force in the game for decades. Some American
sports aficionados, regardless of geographical latitude, think of the New
York Yankees as a menacing force.
As with all languages, I presume, it is the shadings of meanings that make
all the difference. I am always amazed that we on this list manage to be
understood as well as we are.
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