gentile = ethnonymic (was: Heard on The Judges: crack)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 12 20:34:51 UTC 2008

On Sat, Apr 12, 2008 at 3:20 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at> wrote:

> the terminology in this area seems remarkably confused.  "demonym",
> "gentilic", and "ethnonym" all have some uses in the technical
> literature, but not always consistently.  we need labels for (at
> least) proper nouns that refer to places (or regions or nations),
> people from those places, ethnic groups, and people belonging to those
> groups, and for the corresponding adjectives.  now, in the real world,
> these categorizations are related to one another in complex ways.  and
> the words for particular categories also overlap, especially in their
> morphology, and these overlap with language names and names of
> religious groups and so on.  it's hard to imagine a terminology that
> would allow us to keep things straight.
> for instance, what kind of proper noun is "Turkish" in "Turkish
> invasion" 'invasion by Turkey' -- and "Turkish" in "Turkish invasion"
> 'invasion by Turks'?

Proper  *adjective*, of course. But other than that, this is part of
why annotation of "geopolitical entities" is so hairy (see

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society -

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