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wiz_oz

Thoughts on "-ese"

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wiz_oz

An interesting article, reproduced below.

If the ‘-ese’ suffix is insulting, then it is time to change it

By KEVIN LIU KEQING

GROUP I: American, Australian, Austrian, Canadian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Russian.

Group II: Chinese, Congolese, Japanese, Nepalese, Portuguese, Sudanese, Vietnamese.

In the State of Ohio in the United States, what do local residents call themselves? Ohioese? Wrong. Ohioan. In Toronto, Canada, the people there call themselves yes, you guessed it – Torontonian. Never “Torontonese”.

Not enough to make you feel superior should you fall into Group I, or inferior if you unfortunately happen to be in Group II? Let's look at the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1978, for the definition of “-ese”: suffix, 1. (the people or language) belonging to (a country); 2. (usually derogatory) literature written in the (stated) style. Examples: Johnsonese; journalese.

MSN Encarta Dictionary online: ... 3. The style of language of a particular group (disapproving). Example: officialese. (Via Old French -eis; Italian -ese).

Even these two dictionaries published in modern times when racism is illegal reveal that, clearly, “-ese” here relates to derogation and shows a low opinion of people, to say nothing of centuries ago when the ancient Europeans saw themselves as the centre of the world, and called the countries near the eastern Mediterranean sea “Near East,” the Asian countries west of India “Middle East,” the Asian countries east of India “Far East,” and North America the “New World.”

In ancient times, China's economy was comparatively developed. It made initial contact with Europe through merchandise trading such as porcelain or china, hence the country name China via the Silk Road.

While excited about the unique goods, the arrogant old Europeans felt uneasy with this totally different people from the remote East having a strange physical appearance and inferior culture in their eyes, and laughed at the latter's difficult languages, ugly attire, and dire foods; therefore they named them in a negative way.

Countries such as Japan, Nepal and Vietnam resemble China in human physical appearance and culture, and were also victimised.

Why, then, the survival of many Africans such as Egyptian and Tunisian, and Central and South Americans such as Jamaican and Brazilian, as well as some Asians: Korean, Malayan and Indian?

My research indicates that, firstly, when Europeans made initial contact with Koreans and Malayans, hundreds of years later than with the Chinese, Europe was more civilised and less racist; secondly, by now, Europeans were getting used to the Asian physical appearance and culture and began to accept them; and finally, Europeans happened to like the way the Koreans and Malayans interacted when both made initial contact.

The inferences can be applied to the Africans whose names end with an “-an.”

The founding fathers of Singapore were well aware of the subtle significance behind the “-ese” and “-an” distinction, and opted for “Singaporean” when the nation became independent in 1965.

India has a different story. The Indians share common features with Europe (such as the group of Indo-European languages). Europeans saw Indians as relatives. You wouldn't want to use harsh descriptions for your relatives, would you?

The same is true of Central and South Americans, who are cousins of North Americans and Mexicans.

You may ask: What about the Portuguese, also Europeans? Well, a few hundred years back, Portugal was a powerful nation warring with other major European countries for resources in overseas colonies, and was victimised by being hated and looked down upon by their European rivals.

In the 21st century, the world has evolved into an era when racial discrimination is not tolerated. It is time the names in Group II were abolished. – China Daily / Asia News Network

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Celso Pin

Is this article serious? it seems a joke to me...

but.. taking this serious.... i have some sugestions:

Group II: ChineseAN, CongoleseAN, JapaneseAN, NepaleseAN, Portuguese (leave this out... understand, we were colony of them...), SudaneseAN, VietnameseAN.

Seems better? i dont think so...

I think politically correct stinks...

p.s. I am an Brazilian Indian... I am not an "Native American":nono :nono ... please, call me Indian!:mrgreen:

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wushijiao

Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with the suffix "-ese". It can be used in a derogatory manner, such as "legalese". But, that dictionary definition clearly states, "(usually derogatory) literature written in the (stated) style". I've personally never confused a place name suffix with a pedantic, esoteric written form.

However, maybe from now on instead of "Chinese", we can say "Zhongguoian", or something.

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roddy

previous discussion. This theory (it's more urban myth than theory though) keeps on popping up. If the China Daily is still publishing this kind of stuff then it's just another reason not to read the China Daily. If you are actually believing this read through that topic and come back if you aren't convinced.

My research indicates that, firstly, when Europeans made initial contact with Koreans and Malayans, hundreds of years later than with the Chinese, Europe was more civilised and less racist; secondly, by now, Europeans were getting used to the Asian physical appearance and culture and began to accept them; and finally, Europeans happened to like the way the Koreans and Malayans interacted when both made initial contact.

I'd love to see this guy's 'research'. Perhaps he can draw us some new maps

Roddy

PS It's preferable to link to articles, rather than quote in full - a few select quotes and your own comments if possible.

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ala

Viennese. City-state of Vienna. Maybe when the day comes when Viennese Austrians start boycotting English, then the author of the original article above might have a point.

388521.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viennese_language

Viennese German is an East Central Austro-Bavarian dialect spoken mostly in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Even in Lower Austria, the state surrounding the city, many of its expressions are not used, while farther to the west they are often not even understood.

Viennese has to be distinguished from the Austrian form of Standard German and other forms of Austrian German.

The Viennese vocabulary displays particular characteristics. Viennese retains many Middle High German and sometimes even Old High German roots. Furthermore, it integrated many expressions from other languages, particularly from other parts of the former Habsburg Monarchy, as Vienna served as a melting pot for its constituent populations in the late 19th and early 20th century.

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wushijiao

While on the fascinating subjecting of misinterpreting the suffix “-ese” (because I doubt it will come up again), I’d like to ask if anyone else has noticed that CCTV-9 seems to never use the word “Taiwanese”, even when it is grammatically called for. I’ve noticed that they would say, for example, the “Taiwan businessman”, when it should be the “Taiwanese businessman”. Apparently they mistakenly have an editorial policy that assumes that “-ese” confers the status of an independent nation. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I just insane? Or is that a false dichotomy? :mrgreen:

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Ncao

Chinese sounds alot better than Chinian. It's also a lot better then China men (which really has racist sentiments). I find this article a ridiculous joke.

I think politically correct stinks...

p.s. I am an Brazilian Indian... I am not an "Native American" ... please, call me Indian!

This is wrong because Indians are from India. Blame it on Columbus who thought he landed in India. Maybe you should be abroginal Brazilian.

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ala
While on the fascinating subjecting of misinterpreting the suffix “-ese” (because I doubt it will come up again), I’d like to ask if anyone else has noticed that CCTV-9 seems to never use the word “Taiwanese”, even when it is grammatically called for. I’ve noticed that they would say, for example, the “Taiwan businessman”, when it should be the “Taiwanese businessman”. Apparently they mistakenly have an editorial policy that assumes that “-ese” confers the status of an independent nation. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I just insane? Or is that a false dichotomy?

Yeah, this is also why there is no usage of Shanghainese, it's always "local dialect", "Shanghai dialect", "Shanghai men", "Shanghai hairy crab". To use the term Shanghainese would appear as if they were a separate ethnicity or sub-ethnicity, and that's unacceptable for the government. So not necessarily "status of an independent nation", but to the government, a specialized -ese ending conveys the notion they are of a different people.

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Ncao

The term Vietnamese contradict this

My research indicates that, firstly, when Europeans made initial contact with Koreans and Malayans, hundreds of years later than with the Chinese, Europe was more civilised and less racist; secondly, by now, Europeans were getting used to the Asian physical appearance and culture and began to accept them; and finally, Europeans happened to like the way the Koreans and Malayans interacted when both made initial contact.

Vietnamese didn't exist till the independence from France in 1954.

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ala

Had China continued to be called Cathay, we would be Cathayans, not Chinese.

Maybe we should revitalize Cathay as an alternate name for China (much like Greece and Hellas). It's far more lyrical/poetic of a name than China anyway.

History of the Tartars

[The Flower of Histories of the East]

compiled by

Het'um the Armenian

of the Praemonstratensian Order

1307 AD

[book One]

Chapter 1

The Kingdom of Cathay

The kingdom of Cathay is considered the richest and most noble realm in the world. Full of people and incalculable splendor, it is located by the shore of the Ocean sea. There are so many islands in the sea bordering it that no one knows their number, since no one has visited all of them. Yet as far as the foot of man has travelled thereabouts, countless luxuries, treasures, and wealth have been observed. Olive oil is an item which fetches a great price there and is much esteemed, and kings and grandees have kept it with great care as a major medicine.

There are numerous strange animals in the kingdom of Cathay, which I shall not mention. People there are creative and quite clever; and thus they have little regard for the accomplishments of other people in all the arts and sciences. They claim that they themselves are the only ones to see with two eyes, while the Latins see with but one eye, and all other peoples are blind. And their word is confirmed by the fact that, generally, they regard other people as imbeciles. For such a quantity of varied and marvellous wares with indescribably delicate workmanship is brought from that kingdom, that no one is capable of matching such goods in the scales. [g5]

All the people in that kingdom are called Cathayans, and among them are many attractive men and women. But by and large, they have tiny eyes and are beardless by nature. These Cathayans have very beautiful letters, in some respects similar in beauty to Latin letters. It is difficult to describe the [religious] doctrines of the people of this kingdom. For some folk worship idols made out of metal; some worship cattle (since they work the land which brings forth wheat and other produce); some worship gigantic trees; some, the natural elements; some, the stars. There are those who worship the sun and those who worship the moon. Yet others have no belief or doctrine and lead their lives like irrational beasts. Although they are full of genius with regard to making all sorts of material goods, no acquaintance with the spiritual exists among them.

[in warfare] the people of this country are very cowardly, and must be heavily armed. However, they are extremely skilled on the seas where they defeat their enemies more so than on land. They possess many types of weapons not found among other peoples. As for the money which this people uses, it is made of sedge, of square shape and bears the royal stamp, and it is based on this stamp that the money's value is determined, great or small. If the money becomes worn through age, they take it to the royal court and exchange it for fresh money. They make vessels and other ornaments out of gold and other metals.

Only in the west is Cathay bordered by another kingdom, that of Tars. [g6] In the north is the Belgean desert, and to the south are the aforementioned islands in the Ocean sea.

Book of Marco Polo

Translated by Colonel Sir Henry Yule

London: John Murray, 1903

"So Vanchu and Chenchu, having come to this conclusion, proceeded to communicate it to the chief people among the Cathayans, and then by common consent sent word to their friends in many other cities that they had determined on such a day, atthe signal given by a beacon, to massacre all the men with beards, and that the other cities should stand ready to do the like on seeing the signal fires. The reason why they spoke of massacring the bearded men was that the Cathayans naturally have no beard, whilst beards are worn by the Tartars, Saracens, and Christians. And you should know that all, the Cathayans detested the Grand Kaan's rule because he set over them governors who were Tartars, or still more frequently Saracens, and these they could not endure, for theywere treated by them just like slaves. You see the Great Kaan had not succeeded to the dominion of Cathay by hereditary right, but held it by conquest; and thus having no con-fidence in the natives, he put all authority into the hands of Tartars, Saracens, or Christians who were attached to his household and devoted to his service, and wereforeigners in Cathay. Wherefore, on the day appointed, the aforesaid Vanchu and Chenchu havingentered the palace at night, Vanchu sat down and caused a number of lights to be kindled before him. He then sent a messenger to Achmath the Bailo, who lived in the Old City, as if to summon him to the presence of Chinkin, the Great Kaan's son, who (it was pretended) had arrived unexpectedly. When Achmath heard this he was much surprised, but made haste to go, for he feared the Prince greatly. When he arrived at the gate he met a Tartar called Cogatai, who was Captain of the 12,000 that formed the standing garrison of the City; and the latter asked him whither he was bound so late? "To Chinkin, who is just arrived." Quoth Cogatai, "How can that be? How could he come so privily that Iknow nought of it?" So he followed the Minister with a certain number of his soldiers. Now the notion of the Cathayans was that, if they could make an end of Achmath....."

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NYC

GROUP III: (the -i) Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somali, Azeri,

GROUP IV; (-er) Greenlander, Netherlander,

GROUP V: (none of the above) Spaniard, Greek, Swede, Dane, Pole, Dutch, Swiss, Czech, Slovak, Afghan, Uzbek, Kazakh, Thai, Lao,

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HashiriKata
My research indicates that, firstly, when Europeans made initial contact with Koreans and Malayans, hundreds of years later than with the Chinese, Europe was more civilised and less racist; secondly, by now, Europeans were getting used to the Asian physical appearance and culture and began to accept them; and finally, Europeans happened to like the way the Koreans and Malayans interacted when both made initial contact.

My research shows that pigs are called "pigs" because they are dirty. The pigs in return also reveal that humans are called "humans" because we're so dumb...

(by making laughable rationalisations such as the above quoted :mrgreen: )

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aeon

I have a very white Maltese colleague who never seems to worry about having the supposedly derogatory -ese ending added to the name of his island nation. :-?

But perhaps we ought to start a campaign to make Chinese more politically correct? Much more scope there than in English... We could ban all the negative usages of 洋 and find a nicer character than 非 to use in the new PC name for Africa to start with. And 残疾人? What's that if not positively insulting? :twisted:

Alternatively we could accept that languages evolve on their own and enjoy their idiosyncrasies as merely that. :nono

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Outofin
And 残疾人? What's that if not positively insulting?

About 20 years ago, people usually said 残废人, that was utterly insulting. So we changed it to 残疾人. I think now it's totally fine.

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johnmck

When speaking with my French collegues I often refer to them jokingly as "froggies" should I be using the word "froggians"?

There is something about the -ese ending though. If I referred to them as frogs that would be a bit abrupt, but adding -ese at the end seems to make it a light hearted silly joke.

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Ncao
When speaking with my French collegues I often refer to them jokingly as "froggies" should I be using the word "froggians"?

I also had heard the French reffered to as Frenchies.

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lokki
Group II: ChineseAN, CongoleseAN, JapaneseAN, NepaleseAN, Portuguese (leave this out... understand, we were colony of them...), SudaneseAN, VietnameseAN.

Seems better? i dont think so...

Well, sticking the -an ending on after the -ese ending ends up pretty contrived of course.

Perhaps the following would be more natural: Chin(i)AN or maybe Chinish, Cong(o)an, Japanian, Nepali/Nepalian, hmmm. but Portugal looks more difficult.

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aeon
Perhaps the following would be more natural: Chin(i)AN or maybe Chinish, Cong(o)an, Japanian, Nepali/Nepalian, hmmm. but Portugal looks more difficult.

No WAY! :x

Ugly, Ugly, UGLY!!! :tong

Why not just leave well alone? :wall

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ala

Non-pejorative English language words for Chinese people:

China --> Chinese

Sinae --> Sinic

Cathay --> Cathayan

The suggestion of using Chinian is idiotic; China shares the same pattern as Vienna.

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Ncao

There is nothing wrong with these nationality names. The author of this article was probably been brainwash by some angry Asian-Americans, who are tired of racism.Their anger is understandable on certain issues,but they also make a big deal out of some stupid non-sense things, like this topic. Another non-sense thing that some Asian-American find derogatory is the term oriental. I don't find oriental derogatory at all, even Chinese use it (東方人).

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