"ese" suffix insulting/racist?

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Mon Apr 7 15:40:46 UTC 2003

Beverly's examples touch on the grain of truth behind the misguided
"Sinaian's" rant.  This suffix has become productively extended from a
meaning "language of" to a meaning "jargon of."  As such it usually carries
a pejorative connotation of "bad style."  Thus legalese, bureaucratese,
educationese indicate styles of written  English prose that is turgid by
virtue of long, convoluted sentences and technical terms that the lay
reader finds incomprehensible.  I interpret medicalese and teacherese as
probably having similar connotations, even though I've never run across
them before.  I'm not sure about motherese, which I have also not heard
before, though it doesn't seem to fit the mold.

The "Sinaian's" fallacy apparently lies in an assumption on his part that
this extended use of -ese has contaminated the basic, neutral use which
simply identifies the language of a country or ethnic group.

Peter Mc.

--On Sunday, April 6, 2003 12:38 PM -0400 Beverly Flanigan
<flanigan at OHIO.EDU> wrote:

> Legalese, medicalese, teacherese, motherese ....

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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