Monday, March 24, 2014

Why use "US" when you mean "American"?

This headline from the Daily Telegraph annoys me: British teenager dies after shooting of US police officer. And, yes, I realize that the underlying story is so grave that this complaint may be too trivial, but regardless, I'm going to carry on.

What annoys me is that the man was not a US police officer. He was an American police officer, a member of the Windermere Police Department from Windermere, FL. If he was a German police officer, from a local German force, would the headline refer to him as a FRG police officer? Obviously not. Well, using US where you should use American is the same thing.

The headline is from the Daily Telegraph, but I saw nearly identical headlines from the Guardian and a couple of others this morning. And this sort of thing comes up all the time. For some reason news organizations in Britain and in Ireland are reluctant to use the word "American." I can't for the life of me understand why. And it can't be just because they are saving space in the headlines because the same construct is used in the actual article. Something else is going on here.

The only people in America who (might) fit the bill as US police officers are federal Marshals and the FBI. The rest of them do not work for the "United States," aka the federal government.