Demonym

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This article is about terms for residents. It is not to be confused with gens.

A demonym (/ˈdɛmənɪm/; δῆμος dẽmos "people, tribe", ὄνομα ónoma "name") is a word that identifies residents or natives of a particular place, which is derived from the name of that particular place.[1] It is a recently minted term; previously gentile was recorded in English dictionaries, e.g., the Oxford English Dictionary[citation needed] and Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary.[2][3]

Examples of demonyms include Chinese for a native of China, Swahili for a native of the Swahili coast, Indian for a native of India, American for a native of the United States of America, and in the same way natives of the United Mexican States are referred to as Mexicans.

In English, demonyms are often the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. "Italian", "Cairene", "Japanese", "Greek". But this is not true in general: the adjective for Spain is "Spanish", but the demonym is "Spaniard".

Some groups of people may be referred to by multiple demonyms, relative to their location. For example, the natives of the United Kingdom can be called British people, Brits, or Britons. In English, demonyms are capitalized.[4] In some languages, when a parallel demonym does not exist, people may borrow the denonym from another language as a nickname or descriptive adjective of a group of people. The term has not been adopted by the Oxford English Dictionary or the Merriam-Webster dictionary.[5]

English widely includes country-level demonyms - such as "Ethiopian", "Guatemalan", "Japanese", and "French". But English occasionally includes lower-level demonyms - such as "Seoulite", "Wisconsinite", "Chicagoan", "Fluminense", and "Paulista".[6][7][8] Some large cities such as Australia's Perth, and many other places, lack a commonly used and accepted appellation. This poses a particular challenge to those toponymists who research demonyms.

Demonyms are often the same as the ethnonym for the ethnically dominant group in a place. Thus a "Thai" may be any resident or citizen of Thailand, of any ethnic group, or more narrowly a member of the Thai people.

Also, demonyms must be considered a subtype of adjectives and nouns used as appellations.

Etymology[edit]

The word gentilic comes from the Latin gentilis ("of a clan, or gens") and the English suffix -ic.[9] The word demonym was derived from the Greek word meaning "populace" (δῆμος demos) with the suffix for "name" (-onym).

National Geographic attributes the term "demonym" to Merriam-Webster editor Paul Dickson in a recent work from 1990.[10] However, the word does not appear for nouns, adjectives, and verbs derived from geographical names in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary nor in prominent style manuals such as the Chicago Manual of Style. It was subsequently popularized in this sense in 1997 by Dickson in his book Labels for Locals.[11] Dickson. However, in What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names (the first edition of Labels for Locals)[12] attributed the term to George H. Scheetz, in his Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon (1988),[1] which is apparently where the term first appears. The term may have been fashioned after demonymic, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as the name of an Athenian citizen according to the deme to which the citizen belongs, with its first use traced to 1893.[13][14]

Suffixation[edit]

Several linguistic elements are used to create demonyms in the English language. The most common is to add a suffix to the end of the location name, slightly modified in some instances. These may resemble Late Latin, Semitic, Celtic, or Germanic suffixes, such as:

-(a)n[edit]

continents:

countries:

states/provinces:

cities:

"German" is not derived by suffixation of the term "Germ"; rather, it is the shortened form of Latin Germanus.

-ian[edit]

countries:

cities/states/provinces/counties:

-anian[edit]

countries:

  • Guam → Guamanian

-nian[edit]

-in(e)[edit]

-ite[edit]

-(e)r[edit]

Often used for European locations and Canadian locations

-(en)(in)o[edit]

as adaptations from the standard Spanish suffix -(eñ/n)o. countries, regions:

cities:

-ish[edit]

(Usually suffixed to a truncated form of the toponym, or place-name.)

"-ish" is usually proper only as an adjective. See note below list.

Many common "-ish" forms have irregular demonyms, e.g. Britain/British/Briton; Denmark/Danish/Dane; England/English/Englishman; Finland/Finnish/Finn; Flanders/Flemish/Fleming; Ireland/Irish/Irishman; Kurdistan/Kurdish/Kurd; Poland/Polish/Pole; Scotland/Scottish/Scot; Spain/Spanish/Spaniard; Sweden/Swedish/Swede; Turkey/Turkish/Turk.

-ene[edit]

Often used for Middle Eastern locations and European locations.

-ensian[edit]

  • Kingston-upon-Hull (UK) → Hullensian

-ard[edit]

  • Spain → Spaniard (also "Spanish")
  • Savoy → Savoyard

-ese, -lese, -vese, or -nese[edit]

"-ese" is usually considered proper only as an adjective, or to refer to the entirety.[citation needed] Thus, "a Chinese person" is used rather than "a Chinese". Often used for East Asian and Francophone locations, from the similar-sounding French suffix -ais(e), which is originally from the Latin adjectival ending -ensis, designating origin from a place: thus Hispaniensis (Spanish), Danensis (Danish), etc.

-i(e)[edit]

Mostly for Middle Eastern and South Asian locales and in Latinate names for the various people that ancient Romans encountered (e.g. Allemanni, Helvetii)

-ic[edit]

-iot(e)[edit]

  • Chios →Chiot
  • Corfu → Corfiot
  • Cyprus → Cypriot *before Cyprus independence 1960→ Cyprian
  • Phanar → Phanariote

Used especially for Greek locations.

-asque[edit]

  • Monaco → Monégasque (native citizen of Monaco)
  • Menton → Mentonasque

Often used for French locations.

-(we)gian[edit]

-onian[edit]

Often used for British and Irish locations.

-vian[edit]

-ien[edit]

-be[edit]

-man[edit]

Many also have the alternative suffix -woman.

-ois(e), -ais(e)[edit]

  • Benin → Beninois(e) (also Beninese)
  • Gabon → Gabonais(e) (also Gabonese)
  • Seychelles → Seychellois(e)

While derived from French, these are also official demonyms in English.

From Latin or Latinization[edit]

Prefixation[edit]

It is much rarer to find Demonyms created with a prefix. Mostly they are from Africa and the Pacific, and are not generally known or used outside the country concerned. In much of East Africa, a person of a particular ethnic group will be denoted by a prefix. For example, a person of the Luba people would be a Muluba, the plural form Baluba, and the language, Kiluba or Tshiluba. Similar patterns with minor variations in the prefixes exist throughout on a tribal level. And Fijians who are indigenous Fijians are known as Kaiviti (Viti being the Fijian name for Fiji). On a country level:

  • Botswana → Motswana (singlular), Batswana (plural)
  • Burundi →Umurundi (singular), Abarundi (plural)
  • Lesotho → Mosotho (singular), Basotho (plural)

In the Pacific, at least two countries use prefixation:

Ethnonyms as demonyms[edit]

Fiction[edit]

Literature and science fiction have created a wealth of gentilics that are not directly associated with a cultural group. These will typically be formed using the standard models above. Examples include Martian for hypothetical people of Mars (credited to scientist Percival Lowell) or Gondorian for the people of Tolkien's fictional land of Gondor.

Other science fiction examples include Jovian for those of Jupiter or its moons, and Venusian for those of Venus. Fictional aliens refer to the inhabitants of Earth as Earthling (from the diminutive -ling, ultimately from Old English -ing meaning "descendant"), as well as "Terran", "Terrene", "Tellurian", "Earther", "Earthican", "terrestrial", and "Solarian" (from Sol, the sun).

Fantasy literature which involves other worlds or other lands also has a rich supply of gentilics. Examples include Lilliputians and Brobdingnagians, from the islands of Lilliput and Brobdingnag in the satire Gulliver's Travels.

In a few cases, where a linguistic background has been created, non-standard gentilics are formed (or the eponyms back-formed). Examples include Tolkien's Rohirrim (from Rohan) and the Star Trek world's Klingon people (with various version of homeworld name).

See also[edit]

-onym, especially ethnonym and Exonym and endonym

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b George H. Scheetz (1988). Names' Names: A Descriptive and Pervasive Onymicon. Schütz Verlag. 
  2. ^ "gentile -- adj. of or belonging to a gens or clan; belonging to any nation but the Jews; (gram.) denoting a race or country"--Davidson, Thomas, ed. (1901) Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language. London: W. & R. Chambers; p. 382
  3. ^ "gentile -- adj. of or belonging to a gens or clan; belonging to the Gentiles; (gram.) denoting a race or country"--Macdonald, A. M., ed. (1972) Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary; new ed. Edinburgh: W. & R. Chambers; p. 544
  4. ^ "Gramática Inglesa. Adjetivos Gentilicios". mansioningles.com. 
  5. ^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". 
  6. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  7. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  8. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com. 
  9. ^ "Dictionary". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Gentilés, Demonyms: What's in a Name?". National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic Society (U.S.). 177: 170. February 1990. 
  11. ^ William Safire (1997-12-14). "On Language; Gifts of Gab for 1998". New York Times. 
  12. ^ What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names by Paul Dickson (Facts on File, February 1990). ISBN 978-0-8160-1983-0.
  13. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press. 
  14. ^ "Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, edited by J.E. Sandy, at the Internet Archive". p. 116. 
  15. ^ Press, AIP, Associated (2007). Stylebook and briefing on media law (42nd ed.). New York: Basic Books. p. 112. ISBN 9780465004898. 
  16. ^ "Investing in Future, Quiet Manhattan Apartments Next to Construction Sites" http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/realestate/manhattan-apartments-next-to-construction-sites.html
  17. ^ "Copquin explains "Queensites" for New York Times - Yale Press Log". Yale Press Log. 
  18. ^ "Corkonian". merriam-webster.com. 
  19. ^ "North West Evening Mail". nwemail.co.uk. 
  20. ^ "City of Waterloo on Twitter". 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Local usage generally reserves Hawaiian as an ethnonym referring to Native Hawaiians. Hawaii resident is the preferred local form to refer to state residents in general regardless of ethnicity.[15]

External links[edit]