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Shanghainese or Shanghaiese?


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Because it's difficult to make the sound Shanghaiiiiiiiieeeese. I guess. haha. How about Hong Kong? I found it very difficult to call myself Hong Konger, or Hong Kongese. I just use the term people in Hong Kong.

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I thought those people were also Hongkongnese? Hongkongese or Hongkonger is, just like Shanghaiese, hard to pronounce. People in Hongkong is also not really correct, as you'd also want to include people from Hongkong.

And what should you call someone from Beijing? Pekinese is the easiest, but a bit out-dated, as you're not supposed to call the city Peking anymore. Beijingnese?

Also, there's a book called 'Taibeiren'. I saw that title translated as 'Taipei people', but that sounds not really right to me. But what would be better? Taipeinese??

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  • 1 month later...
And what should you call someone from Beijing? Pekinese is the easiest, but a bit out-dated, as you're not supposed to call the city Peking anymore. Beijingnese?

I thought it was Beijinese, no?

I find it awkward to keep the 'g' when it is almost silent and then throw in the second 'n'.

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  • 10 months later...

I'm the opposite, I find it odd saying "Shanghainese" and have been trying to train myself to say it that way....

I see it as "-ese" not "-nese", just like it's "Portuguese" not "Portugunese".... Much easier to say "Shanghaiese"

In the end, it's not like this is ever going to happen:

"Do you speak Shanghaiese?"

"What? I have absoutely no idea what you're talking about. But I do speak Shanghainese, isn't that cool?"


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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

The difference is, I think, that you can go to Minneapolis and ask them. They speak English and probably have a name for themselves. The Shanghai, Hongkong, Beijing and Taipei people don't.

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I'm the opposite, I find it odd saying "Shanghainese" and have been trying to train myself to say it that way....

I see it as "-ese" not "-nese", just like it's "Portuguese" not "Portugunese".... Much easier to say "Shanghaiese"

I happen to agree. I find "Shanghaiese" much clearer to hear, although admittedly a little confusing to read--too many vowels for the eye.

"Shanghainese" might have a suggestion of a special "Asian identity" that could have unfortunate overtones for some people. Why create a special ending, unless it is meant to suggest something?

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The choice of either "ese/nese" or "ian" doesn't have any cultural association, but just a convenient choice based on what has already been in existence in the language. Korean, Indonesian, etc. are sure Asian countries, are they?

Even whether "Shanghainese" or "Shanghaiese" sounds better to you is also dependent entirely on which you're more familiar with.

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To me, endings such as -ese, -ian, -an, -ite, and -ish all have slightly different connotations; however, historical development does not allow free variation among them. For instance, -ite is largely restricted to the Middle East and sounds out of place in other regions. (Manhattanite is the only exception I think of off hand.)

To me, -ese implies something that is foreign, at least from an English speaking point of view. I cannot think of anywhere in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, etc. where this ending makes sense. You can, however, freely add it to some other word to create the name of a language, with the suggestion that it is in some way "foreign," such as "bureacratese" (a language understood only by bureacrats.)

As I understand it, -ese comes from the ending -es(e) that is used in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian or from its equivalents in French, -ais or -ois. It was not a native English ending. Because of this, I can think of only a handful of European places or languages that seem to have been unknown to the Anglosaxons and so have -ese. The only ones I could come up with were Portuguese, Maltese, and Aragonese. I had not thought of Viennese.

In Africa, I could think of only Togolese and Sudanese.

In Asia, I came up with Chinese, Japanese, Cantonese, Hokkienese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Javanese, and Siamese. Especially because of the prominence of many of these languages and cultures, compared with the ones on other continents, I think of -ese as the "usual" ending to create the name of a language in East Asia if no other form immediately presents itself. The endings -ian and -an are the most neutral, but do not work well stems that do not end in "a."

Adding an "n" to -ese seems to come from the avoidance of the clash of two vowels. The only case of this besides "Shanghaiese" that I can think of is "Togolese." I do not know where the "l" comes from in "Togolese," but I assume it is from French "togolais" and is patterned on French pairs like "Bordeaux" and "bordelais"). I do not know where the "n" in "Shanghaianese" comes from, but I assume it is from some imagined form like "Shanghaian." At first, I could not think of any other word that matches this structure, but eventually came up with "Togolese," "Javanese," and "Balinese." There are, of course, many words that end in "nese," but this is because the stem ends in "n," not because -nese is a usual ending or morpheme by itself.

When I hear "Shanghaiese," I think that someone has created the name of a language applying to Shanghai. The fact that -ese is used sounds like an appropriate analogy to "Chinese," because of the many other dialects or regional adjectives with this ending. "Shanghaian" would sound a little strange, even though "Hawaiian" sounds fine. "Hawaiiese" or "Hawaiinese" definitely sounds odd. I can only explain the difference because of the slight geographical or cultural connotation that -ese has for me.

When I hear "Shanghainese," I hear a word that paradoxically sounds less artificial than "Shanghaiese," but the unusual "nese" morpheme immediately sounds like an analogy to Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, etc. The only other cases of "nese" I can think of where the "n" is not part of the stem are "Javanese" and "Balinese." At least to me, the geography of these groupings does not sound accidental.

The origin of the word "Javanese" is a mystery to me, because "Javan" would seem to be a more natural creation. Perhaps, it is perceived of as too short, compared with something like "Sumatran." (In support of this, "Ghana" produces "Ghanaian" not "Ghanan.") In this case, "Javaese" would sound very jarring to me and like a deliberate attempt to avoid "Javan" for some unknown reason. The fact that "Bali" gives "Balinese" and "Mali" creates "Malian" would also seem to give weight to a cultural or geographical interpretation of "nese."

For those who still might find my perceptions a mystery, I would ask to consider such groups as the following mostly made-up words. I have underlined the forms that sound acceptable to me.

Tokyoese, Tokyonese, Tokyoan

Somaliese, Somalinese, Somalian

Tahitiese, Tahitinese, Tahitian

Suchowese, Suchownese, Suchowan

Hanoiese, Hanoinese, Hanoian

Guizhouese, Guizhounese, Guizhouan

Chicagoese, Chicagonese, Chicagoan.

To me, "Chicagoese" implies something that is a "foreign" language, not understandable by English speakers; whereas "Chicagoan" sounds like something from a linguist's dissertation. "Chicagonese" sounds like something spoken in East Asia somewhere.

As for people from Massachusetts, I always thought they were "Massachusans." People from Minneapolis could be "Minneapolitans.":-?

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  • 4 months later...

Here's my opinion:

If there's two many vowels when adding a suffix, you add a consonant. Simple. This is a natural tendency of the native English speaker when forming the 'new' word. It adds to the clarity when spoken.

It is most definitely 'Shanghainese' that is the 'correct' one. It is certainly the one of the pair that is most popular in use. Just type 'Shanghaiese' into Google: you'll see it suggests you search on 'Shanghainese' because that is far, far more common. I would propose, therefore, that it is also more correct.

You would never say ‘Hongkongnese’. The ‘ng’ already serves as a separator there; why complicate the word by adding another sound ambiguously close to the sound immediately preceding it?

This tendency in English (and also in other languages, such as Korean, Japanese) to insert a hard-sounding phonetic instead of running a series of vowels together is much more prevalent than when simply adding '-ese' onto the end of a location name to form an adjective.

E.g. you say, "I ate an apple" is correct; not, "I ate a apple". The 'n' added to the indefinite article came about purely for the same reason there is an 'n' in Shanghainese before the 'ese'. Don't think words, think sounds.

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