Demonym

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A demonym (/ˈdɛmənɪm/; from Ancient Greek δῆμος, dêmos, "people, tribe" and ὄνυμα, ónuma, "name") or gentilic (from Latin gentilis, "of a clan, or gens")[1] is a word that identifies a group of people (inhabitants, residents, natives) in relation to a particular place.[2] Demonyms are usually derived from the name of the place (village, city, region, province, state, continent).[3] Demonyms are used to designate all people (general population) of a particular place, regardless of ethnic, linguistic, religious or other cultural differences that may exist within the population of that place.

As a sub-field of anthroponymy, the study of demonyms is called demonymy or demonymics.

Since they are referring to territorially defined groups of people, demonyms are semantically different from ethnonyms (names of ethnic groups). In the English language, there are many polysemic words that have several meanings (including demonymic and ethonymic uses), and therefore a particular use of any such word depends on the context. For example, word Thai may be used as a demonym, designating any inhabitant of Thailand, while the same word may also be used as an ethnonym, designating members of the Thai people. Conversely, some groups of people may be associated with multiple demonyms. For example, a native of the United Kingdom may be called a British person, a Briton or, informally, a Brit.

Some demonyms may have several meanings. For example, the demonym Macedonians may refer to population of North Macedonia, or more generally to the entire population of the region of Macedonia, a significant portion of which is in Greece. In some languages, a demonym may be borrowed from another language as a nickname or descriptive adjective for a group of people: for example, "Québécois(e)" is commonly used in English for a native of Quebec (though "Quebecker" is also available).

In English, demonyms are always capitalized.[4] Often, they are the same as the adjectival form of the place, e.g. Egyptian, Japanese, or Greek, though significant exceptions exist; for instance, the adjectival form of Spain is "Spanish", but the demonym is "Spaniards ".

English commonly uses national demonyms such as "Ethiopian" or "Guatemalan", while the usage of local demonyms such as "Chicagoan", "Okie", or "Parisian", is more rare. Many local demonyms are rarely used and many places, especially smaller towns and cities, lack a commonly used and accepted demonym altogether.[5][6][7] Often, in practice, the demonym for states, provinces or cities is simply the name of the place, treated as an adjective; for instance, Kennewick Man.

Etymology[edit]

National Geographic attributes the term "demonym" to Merriam-Webster editor Paul Dickson in a recent work from 1990.[8] The word did 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.[9] However, in What Do You Call a Person From...? A Dictionary of Resident Names (the first edition of Labels for Locals)[10] Dickson attributed the term to George H. Scheetz, in his Names' Names: A Descriptive and Prescriptive Onymicon (1988),[3] 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.[11][12]

List of adjectival and demonymic forms for countries and nations[edit]

List of adjectivals and demonyms for cities[edit]

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 and regions[edit]

Countries[edit]

Constituent states, provinces and regions[edit]

Cities[edit]

-ian[edit]

Countries[edit]

Constituent states, provinces, regions and cities[edit]

-anian[edit]

-nian[edit]

-in(e)[edit]

-a(ñ/n)o/a, -e(ñ/n)o/a, or -i(ñ/n)o/a[edit]

as adaptations from the standard Spanish suffix -e(ñ/n)o (sometimes using a final -a instead of -o for a female, following the Spanish suffix standard -e(ñ/n)a)

Countries and regions[edit]

Cities[edit]

-ite[edit]

-(e)r[edit]

Often used for European locations and Canadian locations

-(i)sh[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.

  • Åland → Ålandish people
  • Bangka Island → Bangkish
  • Britain, Great Britain and United Kingdom → British people (demonym "Britons")
  • Cornwall → Cornish people (demonym "Cornishmen, Cornishwomen")
  • Denmark → Danish people (demonym "Danes")
  • England → English people (demonym "Englishmen, Englishwomen")
  • Finland → Finnish people (demonym "Finns" or "Finnic")
  • Flanders → Flemish people (demonym "Flemings")
  • Ireland → Irish people (demonym "Irishmen, Irishwomen")
  • Kent → Kentish people
  • Kurdistan → Kurdish people (demonym "Kurds")
  • Luxembourg → Luxembourgish people (demonym "Luxembourgers")
  • Northern Ireland → Northern Irish people
  • Poland → Polish people (demonym "Poles")
  • Scotland → Scottish people (demonym "Scots" or "Scotsmen, Scotswomen")
  • Spain → Spanish people (demonym "Spaniards")
  • Sweden → Swedish people (demonym "Swedes")
  • Turkey → Turkish people (demonym "Turks")
  • Wales → Welsh people (demonym "Welshmen, Welshwomen")

-ien[edit]

-ene[edit]

Often used for Middle Eastern locations and European locations.

-ensian[edit]

  • Inverness (UK) → Invernessians
  • Kingston-upon-Hull (UK) → Hullensians
  • Leeds (UK) → Leodensians
  • Reading (UK) → Readingensians

-ard[edit]

-ese, -nese or -lese[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 Italian and East Asian, from the Italian suffix -ese, which is originally from the Latin adjectival ending -ensis, designating origin from a place: thus Hispaniensis (Spanish), Danensis (Danish), etc. The use in demonyms for Francophone locations is motivated by the similar-sounding French suffix -ais(e), which is at least in part a relative (< lat. -ensis or -iscus, or rather both).

-i(e) or -i(ya)[edit]

Countries[edit]

States, provinces, counties, and cities[edit]

Mostly for Middle Eastern and South Asian locales. -i is encountered also in Latinate names for the various people that ancient Romans encountered (e.g. Allemanni, Helvetii). -ie is rather used for English places.

-ic[edit]

  • FinlandFinnic (rather used for the group of peoples and languages situated along the Baltic Sea, in contrast to Finnish)
  • Antarctica → Antarctic
  • Greenland → Greenlandic (also Greenlander)
  • IcelandIcelandic (also Icelander)
  • Iran → Iranic (also Iranian and Irani)
  • Slav → Slavic
  • New Zealand → New Zealanders (Maybe New Zealandics)

-iot or -iote[edit]

  • Chios → Chiots
  • Corfu → Corfiots
  • Cyprus → Cypriots ("Cyprian" before 1960 independence of Cyprus)
  • Phanar → Phanariotes

Used especially for Greek locations. Backformation from Cypriot, itself based in Greek -ώτης.

-k[edit]

-asque[edit]

Often used for Italian and French locations.

-(we)gian[edit]

-onian[edit]

Often used for British and Irish locations.

-vian[edit]

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

  • Benin → Beninois(e) (also Beninese)
  • Gabon → Gabonais(e) (also Gabonese)
  • Seychelles → Seychellois(e)
  • Quebec → Quebecois(e) (also Quebecker, most common within Canada)

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

Non-standard examples[edit]

Demonyms may also not conform to the underlying naming of a particular place, but instead arise out of historical or cultural particularities that become associated with its denizens. These demonyms are usually more informal and colloquial. In the United States such informal demonyms frequently become associated with mascots of the intercollegiate sports teams of the state university system. In other countries the origins are often disputed.[example needed]

Formal[edit]

Informal[edit]

Demonyms and ethnonyms[edit]

Since names of places, regions and countries (toponyms) are morphologicaly often related to names of ethnic groups (ethnonyms), various ethnonyms may have simmilar, but not always identical forms as terms for general population of those places, regions or countries (demonyms).

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 or Atlantean for Plato's island Atlantis.

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 franchise's Klingons (with various names for their homeworld).

See also[edit]

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.[13]
a. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dictionary". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  2. ^ Roberts 2017, p. 205.
  3. ^ a b George H. Scheetz (1988). Names' Names: A Descriptive and Pervasive Onymicon. Schütz Verlag.
  4. ^ "Gramática Inglesa. Adjetivos Gentilicios". mansioningles.com.
  5. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com.
  6. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com.
  7. ^ "Google Ngram Viewer". google.com.
  8. ^ "Gentilés, Demonyms: What's in a Name?". National Geographic Magazine. National Geographic Society (U.S.). 177: 170. February 1990.
  9. ^ William Safire (1997-12-14). "On Language; Gifts of Gab for 1998". The New York Times.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ "Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, edited by J.E. Sandy, at the Internet Archive". p. 116.
  13. ^ Press, AIP, Associated (2007). Stylebook and briefing on media law (42nd ed.). New York: Basic Books. p. 112. ISBN 9780465004898.
  14. ^ Gilbert, Simon (18 November 2014). "What makes a Coventrian ? New online tool will tell you". coventrytelegraph.
  15. ^ "Savannahian". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  16. ^ Finn, Robin (10 October 2014). "Investing in Future Quiet, Quiet Manhattan Apartments Next to Construction Sites". The New York Times.
  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. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31.
  20. ^ Waterloo, City of (October 30, 2013). "Waterluvians! Don't forget about our trail renaming contest".
  21. ^ Mettler, Katie (January 13, 2017). "'Hoosier' is now the official name for Indiana folk. But what does it even mean?". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  22. ^ "Angeleno". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  23. ^ "Massachusetts: General Laws, Section 35". malegislature.gov.
  24. ^ Prior to the Massachusetts State Legislature designating "Bay Stater" as the state's official demonym, other terms used included Massachusett, borrowed from the native Massachusett tribe, Massachusite, championed by the early English Brahmins, Massachusettsian, by analogy with other state demonyms, and Masshole, originally derogatory.
  25. ^ "Is it a slur to call someone a Jock?". BBC.
  26. ^ "Slang: What Aussies call other Aussies". Australian Geographic. Retrieved 2018-07-03.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]