Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Wide World of English Demonyms

In most cases, when you start learning a language, you begin with basic vocabulary. Usually, this includes colors, numbers, foods, everyday items, and locations, which makes sense since they're some of the most useful words in every language. However, there's another category that I've noticed is almost always included in the initial stages of learning a language: nationalities, also known demonyms.

People love to use demonyms (and other labels) because they make it easier to identify and distinguish ourselves from others, so it's only natural that they're included in language courses. While you probably don't need to know all of these terms unless you have an incredibly diverse group of friends from around the world that you'll be talking about in your language classes, demonyms can still be handy to know for the future.

If you're learning English, then you'll need to remember that demonyms are usually created by combining the name of the location with a suffix, most of which are of Latin or Germanic origin. Below, we have a list of some of the most common suffixes, as well as examples.

Parque del Este, a beautiful Venezuelan park in Caracas.
-an: Bolivian, Zimbabwean
-ian: Brazilian, Ecuadorian
-ese: Chinese, Senegalese
-i: Iraqi, Somali
-ish: Danish, Polish
-ene: Slovene
-ine: Argentine
-anian: Guamanian
-nian: Panamanian
-ard: Spaniard
-vian: Peruvian
-er: Icelander, New Yorker
-ite: Seoulite, Wisconsinite (most often used with cities/states)
-ino: Filipino (Philippines)
-eno: Angeleno (Los Angeles)
-gian: Norwegian, Glaswegian (Glasgow)

There are also several other demonyms that are worth mentioning simply because they stand out from the rest:

Carioca: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Fluminense is used for those from the state of the same name)
Scouser: Liverpool, England (another option being Liverpudlian)
Geordie: Newcastle/Gateshead, England (or the much less popular Novocastrian, from Latin)
Brummie: Birmingham, England
Venetian: Venice, Italy (from Latin)
German: Germany (also from Latin, since the country's native name is Deutschland)

Finally, if you're interested in learning a bit about the issues involved in using the term "American" in reference to people from the United States, you can check out this post from last year.

Do you have any other favorite unusual demonyms that you'd like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!