"ese" suffix insulting/racist?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Apr 9 02:21:25 UTC 2003

>Born and raised in New York.  And I say only "Chineece," "Japaneece".
>Never even thought twice about this until the ads-l discussion.

I never thought about it either: I would say only "-eze" in these words.
OED likes my /z/; my other dictionaries seem to allow both /s/ and /z/. Now
that I think of it I have heard "Portuguese" with /s/, and I suppose I must
have heard "Chinese" so too but I didn't notice it.

Note the old-fashioned "Chinee"/"Portuguee" = "Chinese person"/"Portuguese
person", 'erroneous' back-formations from the plurals "Chinese" =
"Chinees", "Portuguese" = "Portuguees" (presumably with /z/).

-- Doug Wilson

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