"ese" suffix insulting/racist?

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Sun Apr 6 22:43:46 UTC 2003

On Sun, 6 Apr 2003, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

#>    The suffix -ese is neither racist nor insulting. But it *has*
#>become productive in English to indicate with mild humor something
#>that is incomprehensible, based on its presence in "Chinese,"
#>"Japanese."  There are many examples, but the only one that comes to
#>mind now is "Stengelese."
#I think of "bureaucratese" first. "X-ese" as a noun here = "language of X".
#Why is "-ese" more frequent in application to East Asia? There are
#"Portuguese", "Viennese", "Faroese", etc., in Europe, but there are many
#more "-eses" in Asia ("Shanghainese", "Pekinese", "Siamese", "Sundanese",
#"Singhalese", etc., etc.): is it because East Asians (along with persons
#from Vienna or the Faroes perhaps?) are/were despised? I would say no, it
#is because places far from the Roman Empire had no names in Latin and
#therefore no natural genitive endings, so they tend to take the 'default'
#ending "-ensis", thus "-ese" (with some obvious exceptions where a name
#looks like it could conform to another Latin paradigm, e.g.,

And we do have "Milanese" -- does that come straight from Italian? --
and "Viennese".

-- Mark A. Mandel

More information about the Ads-l mailing list