There’s a Word for That
April 22, 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Filed under Naming
To name is to swim through the deep order of words. It’s our business, and we keep sharp tools at hand to help us get the job done. Part of making sense of language is in classification. Take a form and examine it, then find all its recorded examples. We might take inspiration from a Creole dictionary, a history of American obscenities, or a list of collective animal nouns. Let’s look at a new form:
Someone from California is a Californian. New Yorkers live in the five boroughs. But what if you’re from Chicago, Malta, Taipei, or Madagascar?
Demonyms are names that refer to a person based on their place of origin or residency. Some of these names follow regular rules: tack an -an or an -er or even an -onian on the end of the locale. But others use (or don’t use) suffixes to truly wacky effect. Thus, if you’re from Glasgow, you’re a Glaswegian. Heading south, we get to Shropshire, which is full of Salopians. Newcastle natives? Novocastrians. And we haven’t even left the UK. The man from Monaco is a Monégasque. Living in Aguascalientes, Mexico makes you un Hidrocálido, which is fantastically redundant given that the two words mean the same thing.
Provincial pride is a powerful emotion to tap into. Belonging to a group bound by a place is a powerful feeling. Long-time residents have it, and transplants desperately want it. You just have to put some effort into your naming appeals, or they will come off as insincere and unimaginative. USA Tires doesn’t really stir feelings of patriotism, does it? It’s a passing mention, a cash grab suggesting the owner can’t be bothered to get creative. With all that in mind, here are a few names that won’t feel out of place:
Hoosier Daddy Adoption Clinic, Indiana
Tender Loiners Meat Market, Leeds
Nutmegger Knapsacks, Connecticut
Our ancestors were crooked but our prices are fair
Manx Spanx, Isle of Man
From the island time forgot comes the rip-off product you wish you could, too
Porteños y Norteños, Buenos Aires
Americans and locals find love on our city-wide dating app
Scouse House, Liverpool
It’s been 4 days since the last football brawl at our pub
Not all demonyms evoke feelings of pride. Flying from Heraklion to Ashdod means sharing the plane with a bunch of Cretans and Philistines. Residents of the island of Lesbos sought an injunction against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece in 2008, with the aim of banning the group from using “Lesbian” their name. It didn’t work.
These are exceptions, though, and most people will appreciate being called the correct name.