America-based or American-based?

anti_freaks

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi there

I have 2 little questions here:p
Here's the sentence:

The head of an American-based charity has told the BBC that the people of Niger are now experiencing a famine because of drought. The Africa director of Helen Keller International, Shawn Baker, said drought had wiped out crops and killed livestock.

1. What does "American-based" mean? is it the same as "America-based" with its headquarters in America? Or it means this charity is mainly operated by Americans?

2. Shawn Baker is director for Africa in this charity. Should it be "the African director", or remain "the Africa director"?

Thanks:D
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Yes. Here the writer has chosen "American-based" when "American" would have worked. Another good version would be "the head of a charity based in America".

    In your second sentence, "the Africa director of Helen Keller International" was likely used to avoid confusing readers about the ethnicity of Shawn Baker. Mr. Baker may not have any genetic or cultural ties to Africa. Using "Africa director" makes that clear.
     

    Tazzler

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi,

    Good questions. Yes, "American-based" means that the headquarters is in the USA. As for your second question, although at first glance "African" could mean that that the guy runs the African branch of the charity, the most obvious meaning would be that he is of African ancestry and runs the whole charity. I guess it should remain as it is, but I don't like it either way. I'd say "director of the African branch of Helen Keller International".
     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Yes, the writer in your original sentence means "America-based", probably "United States of America-based".

    "American-based" is not appropriate because it is grammatically incorrect.
     

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I would never use "American-based". Nothing can be based in "American".

    I would never use "America-based" because it's base is an American place, not the whole continent of America.

    Looks like we have conflicting opinions. :D
    *

    EDIT: ... but I used bold italic underline, and you used only bold underline, so I win. . . :p :p
     

    nzfauna

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Nonetheless, Rival, it is not grammatically correct.

    In the phrase in question:
    an American-based charity
    America IS the place, so there is no need to describe it as "American". You wouldn't say "American America", or a "basic base" or a "charitable charity". It would be redundant.

    Additionally, "American-based" means "based in American", and there is no such place as American.

    Your reasoning for
    I would never use "America-based" because it's base is an American place, not the whole continent of America
    is non-sensical, in part because "an American place" could still refer to any place in the American continent/s.

    If you were going to use the essence of that logic in a sentence, it would still lead you to say "a charity with an American base".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Just a small voice on the side of Rival: American-based sounds fine to me:).

    I suppose the logic is that "American" means "preposition+America".



     

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Nonetheless, Rival, it is not grammatically correct.

    I tried with humour, but you obviously don't get it.

    The -n form is a common adjectival form.

    e.g We normally refer to Obama as the American President, not the America President,
    and we normally refer to New York as an American city, not an America city.

    In this case, the base of the charity is in America, so the charity has an 'American base', not an 'America base'. Therefore it can correctly be described as "an American-based charity.

    You may be able to make an opposing argument and, as I noted, we obviously have conflicting opinions -- but you're not God, so you don't get to pontificate that using a standard adjectival form as a descriptor is "not grammatically correct".
    *
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It's an interesting question. Would I say "England-based" or "Italy-based"? Any country at the beginning seems a little odd to me.

    A "New York-based" or "London-based" organization sounds more normal to me.
     

    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    American-based is incorrect. American is an adjective, not a place. If it's a U.S. charity, the correct term would be "American charity" or "U.S.-based charity" or "U.S. charity" or "charity based in the U.S."

    Neither "African director" nor "Africa director" would work in this case. I would use "The director of Helen Keller International in Africa, Shawn Baker, said drought had wiped out crops and killed livestock."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    American-based is incorrect. American is an adjective, not a place.
    I really don't follow this logic....

    If I see a woman wearing a red suit, I can say "Look at the red-suited woman". "Red" is an adjective, too:cool:.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I tried with humour, but you obviously don't get it.

    The -n form is a common adjectival form.

    e.g We normally refer to Obama as the American President, not the America President,
    and we normally refer to New York as an American city, not an America city.

    In this case, the base of the charity is in America, so the charity has an 'American base', not an 'America base'. Therefore it can correctly be described as "an American-based charity.

    I disagree on this point. The "based" is the adjective. "America" is telling us where it is based (although "America-based" sounds odd to me even if it is grammatically correct. As K.Z. said, "U.S.-based" or "American charity" would be fine.)

    Imagine saying "A Chicagoan-based bank". The bank is not Chicogoan; It is based in Chicago, so it is a Chicago-based bank. "American-based" follows the same pattern. This is not saying it is an American charity; its base is in America so it would be an America-based charity (if having a country works at all in this structure, which I doubt).
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I really don't follow this logic....

    If I see a woman wearing a red suit, I can say "Look at the red-suited woman". "Red" is an adjective, too:cool:.

    Well, it's similar to "humor-laced speech". It wouldn't be a "humorous-laced speech", would it? The second word in the compound takes the form of an adjective while the first part remains as a noun. The whole thing is an adjective, of course, but that doesn't mean that we make each part an adjective.
     
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    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    It's a bit different. "-based" is used to establish the location of the company, to indicate where the company is based. American is not a place. You can say American company, U.S. company or U.S.-based company but not American-based.
     

    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    Like James pointed out, it's a bit different when using cities. Plus, one has to be careful distinguishing between where a company is located vs. where it's from--a company can be in the U.S. without being "American."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    its base is in America so it would be an America-based charity (if having a country works at all in this structure, which I doubt).
    I think it does work with countries, James (though I expect you're right that it's more often found with cities).

    Some current examples from Google News:

    Top coaches say only one English-based player is among Europe's best
    The Guardian - 1 day ago
    Wayne Rooney is the only British player among Europe's best, according to the continent's leading coaches.

    Markus Liebherr
    Telegraph.co.uk - 1 hour ago
    Markus Liebherr, who died on August 9 aged 62, was a Swiss-based, German-born industrialist who revived the flagging fortunes of Southampton FC.

    Cultures Converge on Battery Park
    New York Times - Alastair Macaulay - 8 hours ago
    The surprise was that two of the American-based companies were evoking other cultures too.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I can find examples where it is not an adjective, though, as well.

    Novartis Advances On Alcon Buy Amid Continued Resistance

    Wall Street Journal - Goran Mijuk - ‎4 hours ago‎
    Novartis AG (NVS) has come one step closer in its attempt to win control of eye care company Alcon Inc (ACL) after the Swiss drug giant was able to place five new members on the board of the Switzerland-based firm and won conditional backing from U.S. regulators to proceed with the takeover deal.

    (Note "Swiss drug giant" but "Switzerland-based firm".)

    Daily Racing Form (registration) - Marcus Hersh - ‎2 hours ago‎
    England-based Wigmore Hall, a three-time winner overseas, should take betting action in the 1 1/4-mile Secretariat.

    Daily Mail - Paul Scott, Ben Todd - ‎Aug 9, 2010‎
    Her father, who now lives back in Turkey, is not said to have been present at the wedding at the weekend and a Germany-based cousin of Ayda told me last...

    The Guardian - ‎Aug 12, 2010‎
    Dorje Tashi was sentenced on 26 June in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, said Urgen Tenzin, director of the India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and ...


    Perhaps we're in a period of changing usage. I would not say "Indian-based", though. It means something completely different to me (in American English) from "India-based".

    Personally, I don't think it makes sense for country-based compound adjectives to operately differently than compound adjectives not based on countries. I wouldn't say "a flowery-filled vase" and I think the same structure applies here. To me, if it's a Swiss company, say it's a Swiss company. If it is based in Switzerland, say a Switzerland-based company (if you must).
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I can find examples where it is not an adjective, though, as well.
    Oh, sure! I wasn't arguing that noun+based was wrong, only that adjective+based wasn't:D.

    (In the first of my Google News examples, I'd probably have written England-based myself. But I don't think I'd have changed Swiss-based to Switzerland-based.)
     

    Michel09

    Senior Member
    français - France
    I think it does work with countries, James (though I expect you're right that it's more often found with cities).

    Some current examples from Google News:

    Top coaches say only one English-based player is among Europe's best
    The Guardian - 1 day ago
    Wayne Rooney is the only British player among Europe's best, according to the continent's leading coaches.

    Markus Liebherr
    Telegraph.co.uk - 1 hour ago
    Markus Liebherr, who died on August 9 aged 62, was a Swiss-based, German-born industrialist who revived the flagging fortunes of Southampton FC.

    Cultures Converge on Battery Park
    New York Times - Alastair Macaulay - 8 hours ago
    The surprise was that two of the American-based companies were evoking other cultures too.

    My two pennies worth:

    I have seen American/French/English-based with much more frequency than America/France/England-based. In fact, it's quite rare that I have heard or seen "America-based". It may be "grammatically incorrect", but it sounds acceptable to me. Although, "based in America" is something that I would say and/or hear probably with much for frequency.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I guess I don't catch the logic of the other way of putting it. I wouldn't say a golden-based economy for gold-based economy or problematic-based learning for problem-based learning. I'm not quite sure how it comes about. Can you explain the thinking?
     

    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    It's common, but it doesn't mean it's the best or right way of saying/writing it. It also depends on the style guide each newspaper uses.

    -- In the first example, why add "based" to "English"? The guy is an English (or British) player, so why say English-based player?

    -- Markus Liebher....was a German industrialist in Switzerland who....

    -- The surprise was that two of the American (or U.S.-based) companies were...

    :)
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    My two pennies worth:

    I have seen American/French/English-based with much more frequency than America/France/England-based. In fact, it's quite rare that I have heard or seen "America-based". It may be "grammatically incorrect", but it sounds acceptable to me. Although, "based in America" is something that I would say and/or hear probably with much for frequency.

    For that matter, I think you'd find that "U.S.-based" is far more common than "American-based" and "America-based" put together.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Personally, I don't think it makes sense for country-based compound adjectives to operately differently from compound adjectives not based on countries. I wouldn't say "a flowery-filled vase" and I think the same structure applies here.
    I've been reflecting on your "flower-filled vase"; I think there is a difference between this and "[country]-based".

    If we go back for a moment to my "red-suited", "suited" is an adjective formed from the noun "suit": its meaning is something like "with a suit". I suspect that's why it's possible to combine it with another adjective to form the compound "red-suited".

    In contrast, "filled" in "flower-filled" is formed from a verb, not a noun: the vase isn't "with a fill".

    "Based", however, can be analysed in two ways: as noun-derived ("with a base") or as verb-derived ("having been based"). So I suppose logic might well point to its combining with either a noun or an adjective:).


    EDIT: I've just seen your post 24, James. I guess the above is my best attempt at an answer!:D
     

    Michel09

    Senior Member
    français - France
    I agree. I was just saying that it sounds "acceptable" to me. Although, it certainly is not the best way to say it. :)

    I think that perhaps it does depend on location and/or style guide. For example, when I studied in the South for my undergrad degree, I heard and/or read the style in which Loob pointed out. But, that does not make it correct. One would never say a "Texan-based company" -- it would be a "Texas-based company". I was merely saying that the incorrect (or "acceptable") way is certainly used by people. :)

    (If any of that makes sense.)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Based", however, can be analysed in two ways: as noun-derived ("with a base") or as verb-derived ("having been based"). So I suppose logic might well point to its combining with either a noun or an adjective:).

    But if it's "American-based" because it is based in America, why would it not be "mountainous-based people" rather than "mountain-based people"? I'm going to use the "W" word... the first one looks very wrong to me.

    I don't see how the people can be "mountainous-based" whether I read it as "people with a base in the mountains" or "people having been based in the mountains".

    [edit] To me, there is a valid use for "American-based" if the object in question is based on something that is American. "American-based management style" would make sense to me if the management style wasn't from America but based on American methods.
     
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    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    I agree. You're either one or the other (e.g., England-based or English), not both (English-based).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, my Gloucestershire-based brain is hurting now - so for me at least the only option is to agree to differ:D.

    It's interesting, though, that the debate hasn't divided on AmE/BrE lines....



    EDIT: Erm... or has it? No. I've checked again, and it hasn't;).
     
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    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But if it's "American-based" because it is based in America, why would it not be "mountainous-based people" rather than "mountain-based people"? I'm going to use the "W" word... the first one looks very wrong to me.

    I don't see how the people can be "mountainous-based" whether I read it as "people with a base in the mountains" or "people having been based in the mountains".
    I agree with James M on this one. I suspect that many writers haven't put that much thought into what they are saying when they use "American-based". My impression is that people are looking for a quick synonym for "American", which sounds too restrictive or local. They find "based in America" too long, so they cobble together some hybrid between the two expressions. Words can be contagious, especially in our media-saturated world, and this one is now widespread.
     

    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I disagree on this point.

    You're totally free to disagree.:)

    The "based" is the adjective. "America" is telling us where it is based ...

    Yep, 'based' describes the charity, and 'American' describes the base -- hence 'an American-based ... '.

    Imagine saying "A Chicagoan-based bank". The bank is not Chicogoan; It is based in Chicago, so it is a Chicago-based bank.

    But you wouldn't say "The Chicagoan mayor" either, although if he was born and raised in Chicago he probably is Chicagoan.

    However, if you read my comment carefully, you will see that I said "Therefore it can correctly be described as "an American-based charity." I didn't say "... it can only be ..." and I didn't say "... it must be ...".

    I don't understand why you guys so adamantly insist that your personal taste and your regional variety must, at all costs, be accepted as the only possibility.

    Not every English-speaker in the world speaks the way you do, and just because it's different from (not than !) the way you want to say it, doesn't make it
    -not grammatically correct (nzfauna), or
    -incorrect (K.Z.).

    *
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I don't understand why you guys so adamantly insist that your personal taste and your regional variety must, at all costs, be accepted as the only possibility.

    I, for one, am not insisting that it is the only possibility. I am asking about the reasoning behind the other way of looking at it.

    Yep, 'based' describes the charity, and 'American' describes the base -- hence 'an American-based ... '.

    Please explain how this would apply to "mountainous-based people". They are based in the mountains. It is mountainous land, but it doesn't follow that they are a "mountainous-based people" even though they have a base and the base is mountainous. To put it another way, "based" describes the people and "mountainous" describes the base but I can't see how you can describe the people as "mountainous-based people". If that's the logic it doesn't seem to apply.

    It could be that I am missing it entirely (it wouldn't be the first time :) ) but I don't see it. If you can find another way to explain it or if we can use another example besides "American", that might help.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    OK.

    This is said in a very quiet voice, because of my painful brain.

    But:
    (1) googling, it appears to be the case that this adjective + based combination only works for country adjectives, unless you include broad-based (I wish I still had access to the various national corpora: I did something wicked and lost it some time ago:().
    (2) I suspect none of us who use country-adjective + based can explain the reasoning any better than we have already.
    We just ... do.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I can accept that. :)

    There are many, many examples of language being used in a certain way because it is used in a certain way. It may be illogical but language is often illogical. I was just thrown by Rival's position that it was logical. I couldn't see the logic of it. Language and logic are coincidental at best, in my opinion.
     
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    Rival

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Please explain how this would apply to "mountainous-based people".

    "mountainous-based people" sounds very strange to me, and I would be unlikely to use it.

    If you can find another way to explain it or if we can use another example besides "American", that might help.

    One of Loob's examples referred to Markus Liebherr as "a Swiss-based, German-born industrialist ..." using 'national adjectives', not state names, for both. For me "Germany-born" sounds just as weird as "mountainous-based".

    Going further afield, my ears won't accept "France-born", "Spain-born", or "America-born", but "Mexico-born", "Brazil-born", "New Zealand-born" are all fine. I listed a bunch of them, hoping to find a common factor, but I couldn't see anything. Just that some felt right, some felt wrong, and some could go both ways.

    I, for one, am not insisting that it is the only possibility. I am asking about the reasoning behind the other way of looking at it.

    The sentence "I don't understand why you guys so adamantly insist ... blah, blah, blah ... the only possibility." wasn't addressed to you -- it was addressed to the guys who were, in fact, adamantly insisting ... etc, etc.

    On re-reading my post, I see that I failed to make it clear where I turned my attention from you them. I apologise for that.
     

    K.Z.

    Senior Member
    U.S. English/Spanish
    ...Not every English-speaker in the world speaks the way you do, and just because it's different from (not than !) the way you want to say it, doesn't make it
    -not grammatically correct (nzfauna), or
    -incorrect (K.Z.).

    Sorry, but in some instances it's a matter of choice, while in others it's a matter of correct-incorrect. And, as I mentioned earlier, when someone was quoting reading material, it also depends on the style guide being followed. We can agree to disagree.

    "... "I don't understand why you guys so adamantly insist ... blah, blah, blah ... the only possibility." ...it was addressed to the guys who were, in fact, adamantly insisting ... etc, etc.

    On re-reading my post, I see that I failed to make it clear where I turned my attention from you them.

    Aren't you doing the same? Adamantly insisting? No need to get emotional; it's just a discussion. :)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    One of Loob's examples referred to Markus Liebherr as "a Swiss-based, German-born industrialist ..." using 'national adjectives', not state names, for both. For me "Germany-born" sounds just as weird as "mountainous-based".

    It's the same for me on "Germany-born". He was born a German, so he is German-born. It just doesn't work for me with "based", maybe because "based" goes with "in" as in "based in Switzerland". A company is not based a Swiss, it's based in Switzerland. I must be thinking about how the sentence would look the other way around, not that that really determines anything. Many things change when you invert a sentence.

    On re-reading my post, I see that I failed to make it clear where I turned my attention from you them. I apologise for that.

    No problem. :)
     
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