Manchester city Hall. Mark Andrew/CC by 2.0

Here’s a very fun game to play: take a perform of cities v unusual demonyms—that’s the category of native describing one of two people a human from a details place, or a residential or commercial property of that place, like brand-new Yorker or Italian—and ask people to guess: v what the demonym is. Here are some favorites I come up with, through the aid of historic linguist Lauren Fonteyn, a lecturer at the university of Manchester. It’s tilted a little in favor of the U.K. For two reasons. Very first is that Fonteyn lives and works there, and second is the the U.K. Has actually some excellently weird ones. The answer key is at the bottom.

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Glasgow, ScotlandNewcastle, EnglandPittsburgh, PennsylvaniaLiverpool, EnglandLeeds, EnglandWolverhampton, EnglandMadagascarHalifax, CanadaBarbados

Demonyms are personal and crucial to ours conceptions that ourselves. Few things are an ext important to our identities than whereby we’re from. This defines why civilization invariably feel the need to correct anyone who gets their demonym wrong. “It’s understudied however it’s kind of important,” says Fonteyn, that is originally from Belgium. “I moved to Manchester and had no idea what the demonym was. And if you carry out it wrong, world will obtain very, an extremely mad at you.”

The demonym for world from or properties of Manchester is “Mancunian,” i beg your pardon dates earlier to the Latin word because that the area, “Mancunium.” the is, prefer the other fun demonyms we’re about to obtain into, irregular, which way it does no follow the accepted norms of how we modify ar names to come up through demonyms. In other words, someone has to tell you the the correct word is “Mancunian” and not “Manchesterian.”

A major problem v the whole system that demonyms is that it’s practically entirely ad-hoc, a mess of indigenous cobbled indigenous mostly archaic languages. Typically, though not in every case, the method we revolve a place name right into a demonym, at the very least in English, is with a suffix. The suffix -an or -ian, as in “Canadian,” “Mexican,” and “German,” comes from Latin. The suffix -er comes from, linguists think, Proto-Germanic, the northern European precursor to german languages prefer English, German, and also Dutch. Originally it was something like -ware or -waras, however eventually to be turned right into the -er suffix we check out in “New Yorker,” Londoner,” and “Berliner.”

Other less usual ones come from other sources. Indigenous Old French we acquire -ois, as in “Québécois” and also “Seychellois.” additionally from Old French is -ese, together in “Chinese” and also “Portuguese.” Proto-Germanic likewise gave united state -ish, together in “Scottish” and also “Swedish.” From old Greek we get -ite, which is discovered in “Brooklynite” and the somewhat irregular “Muscovite” (that’s who from Moscow, Russia).

Demonyms usually end in a suffix prefer that, yet there room hardly any rules regarding which place names obtain which suffixes. Sometimes there’s some historical connection with the basic language of among the suffixes—“Venetian,” say, due to the fact that Venice has Roman and also Latin roots—but sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we pick a particular suffix to do a demonym less complicated to say, together in “Peruvian,” because nobody desires to battle to to speak “Peruer.” sometimes we don’t! The demonym because that Dubai is “Dubaiite.”

And points get means worse than that, because not just does the suffix no necessarily follow any type of rules, yet the actual place name itself often changes, together in Manchester’s move to Mancunian.

From ours list, let’s take it Glasgow, which boasts the rarely often rare demonym “Glaswegian.” “That one is created through miscellaneous we contact analogy,” states Fonteyn. Analogy in the linguistic sense is sort of choose your standard SAT question analogy: as A is come B, Y is come Z. Let’s take the indigenous “drive” and “dive” for example. The past tense the “drive” has always been slightly unusual in the it’s “drove.” however the past tense of “dive” is not supposed to be unusual—it’s supposed to be “dived.” But because “drive” and also “dive” sound for this reason similar, Americans observed an analogy between those two words, and invented words “dove.”

Glasgow is similar. The demonym “Glaswegian” comes, linguists think, together an analogy that the irish city that Galway. “Glasgow” and also “Galway” are two fairly similar looking words. And also Galway has actually long had its own analogy with one more similar-looking word: Norway. Galway’s demonym is “Galwegian,” as an analogy that “Norwegian.” for this reason “Glaswegian” is a kind of a photocopy-of-a-photocopy the Norwegian. No something anyone can ever guess!

Glasgow. Kamyq/Public Domain

Other irregular U.K. Demonyms come from old names of those places. “Mancunian” is a famous one, yet Fonteyn actually played the “guess the demonym” game with me about a weirder one: Leeds. I thought around it, establish I had never heard it, so took a guess. Leedsian?

Nope. It’s “Leodensian,” which originates from an old Celtic language.

Another an excellent one is the city the Newcastle top top Tyne, usually simply referred to together Newcastle. Newcastle is very interesting demonym place because it actually has two demonyms. A more formal one in the same basic spirit together “Leodensian” is the demonym “Novocastrian,” basically a direct Latin translate into of “Newcastle.”

But the much more common demonym for civilization from Newcastle is therefore wildly irregular the it fits into a totally brand-new section of demonyms. These ns have chose to call the reappropriated demonyms. And also Newcastle’s is “Geordie.”

Reappropriated demonym is no an official linguistic term, because demonyms, being understudied, are doing not have some terminology. But it’s a useful categorization for some of the most fun demonyms the end there. “The ones with the really weird demonyms because that some reasons tend to originate in locations that space talked about with a details scorn,” states Fonteyn. These are poorer places, or locations with big immigrant populations, or places with reduced levels the education, or also just places with specific, unique dialects. Castle are, basically, the places that new Yorkers and Londoners—you’ll note that those room not irregular demonyms—mock.

Once these places are established as somewhere the is mocked, and mocked in a certain way, those terms might get reappropriated. If those jerk elitists in the huge city think we’re every dirtbags, by god, we’re walking to call ourselves the Dirtbaggers! Dirtbaggians!

The precise history of “Geordie” isn’t exactly clear, but most sources, consisting of the Oxford English Dictionary, pen it come the reality that in 19th-century Newcastle, together the city grew during the industrial Revolution, over there were, um, many human being named George. So people outside the city, in stereotyping and generally being rude to the Novocastrians, described them together “George.” together the british love to do, ultimately it obtained a diminutive—that “-ie”—added ~ above the end and also the second “g” was inexplicably changed with a “d.”

Tyne waver Bridge and the Tyne Bridge, both linking Newcastle ~ above Tyne and Gateshead. Henry Hemming/CC by 2.0

Eventually the Novocastrians reclaimed the demonym and also took pride in being called a bunch the Georges. Fonteyn ran a couple of collated searches for me in i m sorry she looked in ~ the form of adjective most associated with various demonyms in news stories and also on Twitter. What she found was the Geordie, today, is informal, however can be used for both positive and an adverse things. You deserve to be a “proud” Geordie, or a “true” Geordie, or one “adopted” Geordie. Or you can be “shirtless,” “partying,” or “naughty.” (The word “Geordie” ended up being known global thanks come the U.K.’s Jersey Shore knockoff, Geordie Shore. Therefore it’s not constantly positive.) yet on the whole, claims Fonteyn, “tentatively I would certainly say that it’s been properly reappropriated.”

There are examples of reappropriated demonyms everywhere the world, and usually these space the ones with the ideal backstories. There’s “Yinzer,” in Pittsburgh: Pittsburghers are among the numerous groups to have actually come up through a solution to English’s lack of a second-person plural. Yet instead the going through “y’all,” as did the American South, Pittsburghers developed their very own: “yinz,” a corruption that “you ones.” the word is so connected with the city of Pittsburgh and also nowhere else the Pittsburghers have actually taken proud in it and become known as Yinzers.

In Barbados, the specific dialect that English spoken in the country also adjusted the demonym. The continuous demonym the Barbados is “Barbadian,” yet that’s hardly offered at all; instead, they go v “Bajan.” This is no pronounced “bah-han,” together it would be in the mexican state of Baja California; instead, it rhymes with “Cajun,” and also is a corruption that the last three syllables that “Barbadian.” check out it? Badian i do not care Bajan.

Another example: the people of Liverpool. Most civilization are probably aware of the formal demonym for people from Liverpool, if only due to the fact that of the Beatles: “Liverpudlian.” (This seems to have actually no more complex root 보다 being sort of a pun. Pool, puddle. It’s no that funny yet it grounding around.) however Liverpudlians have actually their very own version the “Yinzer” and “Geordie.” your is “Scouse.”

Scouse comes from a cheap fisherman’s stew of the very same name. (The native “scouse” appears to come indigenous a word of unknown origin, “lobscouse.” Scouse walk not encompass lobster.) Liverpool is a working-class fishing town, and scouse is the iconic dish of the dockworkers. In scorn, other civilization would express to civilization from Liverpool as “Scousers.” ultimately it to be reappropriated, though not entirely; it is still occasionally used in kind of punny british way. Because that example, “scouse brows” is a way Liverpudlian women perform their eyebrows, plucking out all the hairs and drawing the eyebrows earlier in through a marker. Scouse, follow to Fonteyn’s indexing on Twitter, that is not nearly as reclaimed as “Geordie,” in the it is still often used in a scornful way.

A bowl of scouse, the iconic dish of Liverpudlian dockworkers. Radarsmum67/CC by 2.0

Even currently non-marginalized cities sometimes have demonyms that come from reappropriation. Ever wonder where the word “Yankee” because that a new Yorker comes from? The many likely background comes from brand-new York’s days as brand-new Amsterdam, full of recent Dutch immigrants. In ~ the time, two of the most popular names because that Dutch people in the new World were Jan and also Kees. If you wanted to mock those dutch jerks the end in brand-new Amsterdam, you could refer to them—regardless of their actual name—as a bunch of jan Kees. Jan, the course, is express “yahn,” and was ultimately Anglicized into “Yankee.”

One the the most amazing demonym quirks is connected with the ancient Greek suffix, -ite. Uneven the reappropriated demonyms, the constant ones, choose Italian or Welsh, are typically neutral. The word “Italian” tote no confident or an unfavorable connotation in itself—it is simply a factual way of describing the civilization or a residential property of a place. However -ite is no neutral; the is, weirdly, negative.

“This is exceptionally puzzling,” says Fonteyn. The Oxford English dictionary lists the -ite ending together “slightly contemptuous,” and also Wiktionary declares that “sometimes pejorative.” i took a look with Twitter myself come see around that.

Tweets making use of the demonym “New Yorker” space not significantly positive or negative. But “Manhattanite” and also “Brooklynite,” both that which have actually no certain reason to median anything besides “person or property of this place,” space both strikingly negative. Words linked with “Manhattanite” incorporate “wealthy,” “pampered,” “gilded,” “lily white,” and also “entitled.” The very same feeling of rich snobbery happens with “Londonite.” The much more historically working-class -ite places, prefer Brooklynite and brand-new Jerseyite, take it the same forms as the reappropriated demonyms: a most words such as “proud,” “true,” and “native.” This go not take place with other consistent suffixes such as, say, “Bostonian” or “Parisian,” huge cities whose demonyms are primarily neutral.

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I have no idea why -ite is weird. But not expertise something around demonyms seems, even after studying them, to be pretty par for the course.


GlaswegianNovocastrian or GeordiePittsburgher or YinzerLiverpudlian or ScouserLeodensianWulfrunianMalagasyHaligonianBajan