ELL: 'Reburial of 500 *English*',evidence of continuing stereotyping

Timothy Dunnigan dunni001 at MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU
Thu Dec 9 18:30:51 UTC 1999

Adding to David Harris' comments, ethnonym plurals, whether zero or not,
can be used to essentialize categories of people to the point of racist
stereotyping.  The significance of how a plural is marked primarily
depends upon the context of its use.  I've heard statements that begin
`Hmong are...' and `Hmongs are...' that reek with prejudice. (Apologies to
my Hmong friends.)  My personal preference is not to add an English plural
to a ethnonym when none occurs as a bound morpheme on the noun in the
indigenous language.  Quantifiers and classifiers mark plurals in Hmong
(Hmoob/Moob).  For Dakota, quantifiers and pronominal affixes on the verb
do the job. If a nominal plural exists in the indigenous language, I'm
inclined to use it, e.g. Anishinaabe ~ Anishinaabeg.  It's only a small
step from learning the self-identifiers that American Indian groups are
reclaiming to remembering the appropriate plural forms.

By the way, the same discussion in the form of letters to the editor
occurred several years ago in the Anthropology Newsletter, just in case
someone is researching the matter.

Tim Dunnigan

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