Nationalities and Linguistic Identities
Since our world has become a global village meeting people from countries we never even dreamt of before or heard of has become a reality. Words referring to formerly exotic nationalities and languages have suddenly become part of our active vocabulary. Like proper nouns, nationalities, languages and countries always start with a capital letter. Some nationalities can be difficult or even sound impolite especially those ending in –ese when preceded by the indefinite article a/an: He/she is from China may sound more polite that he/she is a Chinese. He/she is from Turkey may sound more polite than he/she is a Turk. In addition, the pronunciation of a country can be slightly different from its nationality: Japan but Japanese.
The Language and nationality endings can be as varied as the countries they are from: England – English, Greek – Greece, Belgium – Belgian, Holland Dutch. There are no grammar rules.The same word that refers to nationalities can also refer to the linguistic identities but sometimes a word which refers to a language and nationality at the same time can be very misleading or even unfair: Spanish is derived from Spain but what we refer to as Spanish includes only one ethnic group and ignores the others. Spanish refers to Castilian, not Catalan or Andalusia. A Kurd from Turkey is a Kurd not a Turk. A Scottish/Irish man or woman is not English. Some nationalities or countries can be confused with words spelt and pronounced in nearly the same way: Polish – polish, Finnish- finish, German – germane, Turkey and turkey. The general words are of course not written in capital letters. Sometimes there is more than one word to refer to nationalities as with Scottish, Scot and Scotch either with a difference in meaning or style.
Some words which refer to languages are either difficult to pronounce or are the same as the nationality: Czech from the Czech Republic although it is shorter than the former Czechoslovakia: Once a teacher asked a student where are you from? The student answered: I am from Czechoslovakia. The teacher asked: Can you spell Czechoslovakia? The student answered: No, no, I am not from Czechoslovakia, I am from Togo: t, o, g, o. There are cases when you say: I am from… is easier than saying I am… as with Porto Rico. Nationalities can nowadays be acquired by naturalization rather than ethnic origin or skin color. You might be originally from Poland or Nigeria but be British now. Somebody from one of the many countries in Africa is not African but Nigerian. Zambian… People who speak English or German may have different nationalities depending upon the countries they come from. In case of English which has become a global language, unprecedented in human history, the linguistic identity and native-speaker reference might lose meaning and become history.
It can be odd to refer to nationalities of people or inhabitants of United Arab Emirates as Emirati becaus ethere is no English adjective. You would rather say: He/she is an Arab from the UAE. Some Arab contries have an -i Arabic ending like Iraq -Iraqi, Kuwait - Kuwaiti.
When the indefinite article a/an precedes a word it refers to nationalities (mostly male persons if no man or woman follows): An American asked me the way to the airport. Otherwise you might say: an American woman asked me the way to the airport. Some words referring to languages are used to show something you don’t understand: This is Chinese to me. The British often go to Greece: It is all Greek to me whereas the German go to Spain: “Es kommt mir Spanish vor” meaning it is all Spanish to me. Dutch is often used negatively in English due to history: go dutch or dutch courage (see the article Dutch in English)
America - American (US American)
Germany – German
Porto Rico – Porto -Rican
France - French
Burma - Burmese
China – Chinese
Japan – Japanese
Malta - Maltese
Sudan - Sudanese
Iraq - Iraqi
Israel - Israeli (see other nationalities and languages)
Kuwait - Kuwaiti
Swahili (see Other nationalities and languages)
England - English
Poland – Polish
Belgium - Belgian
Brazil - Brazilian
Canada - Canadian
Italy - Italian
Peru - Peruvian
Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabian
Other nationalities and languages
Israel - Israeli (Hebrew or Jewish) depending whether people live thre, speak Hebrew or are of Jewish religion
Peru changes to Peruvian because the pronunciation 'Peruian' would be very difficult to say (clusters of vowel sounds). The letter 'v' is used for this. The adjective from the writer Shaw is shavian.
Swahili (called Kiswahili in the language itself) is the first language of the Swahili people (Waswahili), who inhabit several large stretches of the Indian Ocean coastline from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, including the Comoros Islands.
Switzerland - Swiss (you may speak German, French or Italian)