1 of 2
1
ethnically specific national demonyms
Posted: 12 June 2010 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2892
Joined  2007-02-26

In the Old World, many nations’ names are connected with a particular ethnic group.

Kazakhstan is the land of the Kazakhs, but some 40% of the population is non-Kazakh. We deal with this in English by having the adjective and noun Kazakhstani to refer to the nationality, and Kazakh to refer to the ethnicity.

The situation seems a bit more complex in Afghanistan, where the term Afghan is sometimes a synonym for Pashtun (as an ethnic group, not the language). The demonym Afghanistani is sometimes used but the term I mostly hear in news stories to refer to the nationality is Afghan. (Afghani is the currency).

I’m not a psychologist or geopolitician or a linguist, but it seems to me that having a national name that is also an ethnic group might tend to reinforce the idea that some of your citizens ought not be there. You were born and raised in Kazakhstan, but you’re definitely not a Kazakh: do you feel left out, excluded, sense a lower national legitimacy than the 60% of the population that are Kazakhs?

Australia certainly has its share of xenophobia but one thing that can be said for it is that the name of the country is not tied to a particular ethnicity. There’s no such thing as an ethnic Australian: it is strictly a national demonym. I suspect the same is true of American and Canadian. Singapore is probably in the same boat because of the multitude of ethnicities it houses.

I invite comment.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2010 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  226
Joined  2008-07-19

The name of a country and what people call it are not necessarily the same. The example closest to home for me is the number of people who say England when they mean Britain. This is mostly a foible of the English themselves, but I’ve come across Americans doing it too. It’s a little irritating to those of us on the Celtic fringes of Britain.

(It’s not a new phenomenon - in Gulliver’s Travels, Swift mentions the people of Tribnia, who unaccountably call their country Langden.)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 June 2010 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  775
Joined  2007-03-01

the number of people who say England when they mean Britain. This is mostly a foible of the English themselves, but I’ve come across Americans doing it too.

Many Americans do the reverse, saying “Britain” and “Brits” when they mean “England"and “English”. E.g. in on-line discussions of Mel Gibson’s infamous travesty of Anglo-Scottish history, Braveheart, I’ve frequently known Americans speak of “the British invading Scotland” and be quite bemused when corrected.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 07:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2892
Joined  2007-02-26

Some people are so muddled by it all that they put the flag of England over the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/politics/10274536.stm

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 10:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  267
Joined  2007-02-20
OP Tipping - 14 June 2010 07:22 AM

Some people are so muddled by it all that they put the flag of England over the home of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/politics/10274536.stm

By the way, is there a name for the citizens of the United Kingdom and/or Great Britain other than Briton?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  226
Joined  2008-07-19
Senning - 14 June 2010 10:52 AM

By the way, is there a name for the citizens of the United Kingdom and/or Great Britain other than Briton?

Briton is rarely used. The usual approach is to cast a sentence in such a way that you can use the adjective British. If I really need a noun, I often use Brit in an informal context (such as here); I wouldn’t use it in a piece of writing that called for a formal register.

If you are being very formal about it then our citizenry are either British Citizens or British Subjects. (My current passport says “British Citizen” under nationality. One of my previous ones said “British Subject: Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies”.)

For form-filling purposes, my nationality is British and my country of birth is UK.

For less formal purposes, I am as likely to say that I am a Scot as that I am British. (I do however distinguish between my Britishness and Scottishness.)

Do other Brits in the group have a different perspective on this?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4478
Joined  2007-01-03

Briton is rarely used.

Peters’s Cambridge Guide to English Usage (2004) says the following:

Briton has advantages over both Britisher and Brit. In spite of historical overtones, it seems to be gaining ground as a general appellation, and is almost twice as frequent as Brit in both CCAE and BNC. It doesn’t smack of headlinese, and is not restricted to sports/pop music reporting. Yet the identification of an individual Briton is till very much associated with journalism in the BNC, as in A Briton will command and direct NATO troops or the first Briton to climb Everest without oxygen. The plural Britons does however appear in a wider range of nonfiction writing.

(CCAE = Cambridge International Corpus of American English; BNC = British National Corpus)

I tend to avoid Briton except to refer to the Celtic inhabitants of the island who were driven out of England by the Anglo-Saxons, but that’s the medievalist in me coming out.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2745
Joined  2007-01-31

If Wikipedia is to be believed, there is (under current law) a big difference between British subject and British citizen. I would not be surprised to find that this distinction is widely ignored in casual use.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 June 2010 08:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1363
Joined  2007-01-29

Do other Brits in the group have a different perspective on this? - Dr Fortran

Not really, unless you substitute my “English” for your “a Scot”.  Which makes me wonder why your first inclination is to be known as “a Scot” rather than “Scottish”.  I don’t think of myself as “an Englishman/woman”, just “English”.  Does your chosen use of “a Scot” imply a greater sense of national identity within the UK than my “English”? (Not intended to be inflammatory, just a question based on an observation).

The laws regarding the awarding of British citizenship have changed over the past 20 years or so to include the children born of a British mother, not just a British father.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 02:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  226
Joined  2008-07-19

In the light of Dave’s comment, I’m happy to amend “Briton is rarely used” to “Briton is rarely used outside journalism”. Now I think about it, it does carry an overtone of journalistic usage to my ears. I’m sure Peters’ view re the BNC is correct and my casual (if sloppily expressed) observations accord with it.

Personally, Briton isn’t a word I would use myself and I would construct sentences to use “British” or “the British” instead.

I think Dr Techie is right that British Subject and British Citizen are different. The Wikipedia articles have familiar-sounding content. (And explain the change in how my citizenship is expressed in my passport.) I think you’re right that most people don’t distinguish between the two. Most of us here are aware that British Citizenship is a complex subject and gets redefined in subtle ways every few years. Getting rid of an empire is a messy business.

Eliza’s query re my labelling myself as ‘a Scot’ is interesting. I notice that in the dispute/dispute discussion, I labelled myself as ‘a Scotsman’. I probably use those two terms more or less at random, but prefer nouns over adjectives in this context. I don’t know if that’s widespread or just me and I don’t know what (if anything) it signifies.

I also tend to use Scots rather than Scottish (except in names of things like the Scottish Parliament). I don’t know why I do that either.

My very, very casual observation is that Scots tend to draw a sharper distinction between their Scottish and British identities than English people do between their English and British identities.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 03:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  775
Joined  2007-03-01

Going back to the original point; some demonyms do seem to be more ethically specific than others. For me, the statement “Shirley Bassey is Welsh” carries a faint tinge of incongruity that “Moira Stuart is English” doesn’t.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1363
Joined  2007-01-29

It doesn’t to me so I wonder why it does to you?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2231
Joined  2007-01-30

I usually style myself an Englishman, I’ve always identified more with England than the entity known as Great Britain. I do confess to using Brit occasionally on message boards, for convenience rather than for any liking for the label.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  775
Joined  2007-03-01

It doesn’t to me so I wonder why it does to you?

Perhaps because, being English (and of part-immigrant descent myself) it’s a given to me that the English are a completely mongrel lot, but I have this image (quite inaccurate, I realise) of the Welsh as a bunch of ethnic Celts.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2745
Joined  2007-01-31

Possibly illuminating aside to those who, like me, knew little about Shirley Bassey and nothing about Moira Stuart:
Shirley Bassey (a singer, probably best known [in the US] for her performance of the title song for the movie Goldfinger) is of Nigerian and English ancestry; Moira Stuart is a BBC newsreader of Afro-Caribbean ancestry.  SL’s point, I infer, is that he finds it a little more incongruous to call a “black” person “Welsh” than to call one “English”.

Reminds me a bit of a current US candy commercial that shows an ethnic-Korean father and son dressed in kilts, speaking in Scottish accents, and eating the product (Starburst, a candy described as being “solid, but juicy"), described as “one contradiction eating another”.

[ Edited: 15 June 2010 09:03 AM by Dr. Techie ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2010 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3337
Joined  2007-01-29

Bassey’s Wikipedia entry says “She grew up in the working-class dockside district of Splott”; I find it hard to imagine a more suitable name for a working-class dockside district.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ useful obsolete words      Deutsch ››