[Ads-l] [Non-DoD Source] "Niger" or "Niger"?

Stanton McCandlish smccandlish at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 20 07:59:14 UTC 2017

I've never encountered "Nigerian" for "a native of Niger", only for "a
native of Nigeria"; I would think trying to use it for both would be
fatally ambiguous, thus "Nigerien".

I've lately heard (in the US anyway) a lot of radio and TV people taking
extra care to try (often farcically) to approximate French and Spanish
proper name pronunciations, starting in the 1990s (and probably radiating
out from the American Southwest).  This has included pronunciations of the
names of some other former French colonies, e.g. Montserrat without the "t"
sounds and with a nasalized "n".  I would think that eagerness to avoid
anything like the pronunciation of the N-word is behind rapid re-adoption
of "knee-ZHAIR" in English, but it's actually part of a broader pattern
(cf. someone else's comment about Côte d'Ivoire).

See also ready Western adoption of Beijing, Mumbai, and other changes to
some Asian placename transliterations to be more accurate, and increased
appearance of the proper diacritics on many names in modern newspapers
which used to eschew them entirely or almost entirely (I remember one
journalism style guide permitted them for Spanish and French but no
others).  Also been seeing a lot of Dao De Jing (even Daodejing), Mao
Zedong, Laozi, etc., where once we had Tao Te Ching, Mao Tse Tung or Mao
Tse-tung, and Lao Tzu or Lao Tze.

All of these proper-naming shifts seem to have happened over a single
generation, from the 1980s to 2000s, and are being pushed top-down by
publishers, not bottom-up by "the common folk". Most of the shifts I notice
are bottom-up ones, like turning "e-mail" into "email", inverting the
meaning of "comprise", accepting "less" as applying to count nouns ("15
items or less"), and treating "bad" and "good" as synonymous with "poor"
and "well", respectively, in the performance senses ("She speaks English
really good").

On the other hand, the British war against punctuation, especially the
period and comma, is a two-way affair, pushed aggressively by the UK
newspaper industry and also loved by youths, who hate all those fiddly
punctuation rules and were already ignoring them. It's resisted by British
academic publishers and by regular people over about 35.  But I digress.

Stanton McCandlish
McCandlish Consulting
4001 San Leandro St
Suite 28
Oakland  CA 94601-4055

+1 415 234 3992


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list