CANADIAN DEMONYMS.

I’m quite fond of demonyms (I have dictionaries of them for Spanish and Russian, and my Petit Larousse gives them for French), so I was pleased to find a list of them for Canadian localites (linked at Wordorigins.org). Most of them are fairly bland (a person from Aylmer is an Aylmerite, one from Baddeck is a Baddecker), but there are pleasing exceptions: someone from Arviat is an Arviarmiut, and an inhabitant of Barkmere is a Bark Laker. (I note without comment that someone from Bolton-Est, Quebec, is said to be an East Boltoner.)

Comments

  1. Someone from Dumfries (Scotland) is said to be a Doonhamer, but whether the said saying occurs outside the pages of collections of such things is unknown to me.

  2. Marc Leavitt says:

    Two I’ve always enjoyed are: Sandy-egger (San Diego) and Michigander Michigan).

  3. Paul Clapham says:

    Well, -miut is simply the affix which means “people” in Inuktitut. Here’s another example of that: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/Nunavummiut. The singular should be -mik if my guess is right; when you google “Nunavummik” you do get a lot of links, but they are all in Inuktitut.
    And here’s a link which tells you what people in Igloolik are called: http://www.comeexplorecanada.com/nunavut/igloolik/.

  4. Townie for someone from Ville Mont-Royal, Quebec sounds kinda like a joke to me.

  5. What’s sauce for the mishigas is sauce for the Michigander.

  6. What’s sauce for the mishigas is sauce for the Michigander.

  7. Barry Alpher says:

    The French, I am told, are Ouiouimiut.

  8. Apparently not everyone is happy about the list – some groups of NFLD Townies seem to be fighting for the demonym. I saw a St. Johnser (who wishes to be called a Townie) tweet about it just the other day.
    Nice to see it picked up here.

  9. The least intuitive one that ever applied to me (not presently) is “Haligonian” for an inhabitant of Halifax, Nova Scotia. named after a similar place in England. No data on what inhabitants of the English place call themselves.

  10. I’ve run across some interesting demonyms in and around New Orleans. People from Chalmette, just outside of New Orleans, are often known as Chalmatians. Residents of Violet, Louisiana, somewhat farther out, are sometimes referred to as Violations.

  11. @Bruce – The somewhat forced demonym for the good people of Halifax, West Yorkshire is “Halifaxian” which probably has just as much merit and as facetious as my own comical suggestion of “Halifaxi”. To be honest you’d just designate an inhabitant of Halifax as a Yorkshireman or woman, most of these demonyms seem pretty fallacious; apparently according to some website I’m a “North Anglian” …hmmm, yeah h’okay?

  12. A Cork native is a Corkonian whether he comes from city or county, but the word Dubliner refers to urbanites only. In any case, the inhabitants of Dublin are divided into Northsiders and Southsiders.

  13. @Paul Clapham: True, -miut is plural. But for the singular, I’ve seen either -miutaq or -miuq.
    (-mik is a case form, sometimes called “accusative”. Many of the hits for “Nunavummik” are actually Greenlandic, another dialect or form of the Inuit language. Some forms of the language termed “Inuktitut” use “Nunavunmik” instead.)
    @Barry Alpher: So that’s where it came from! Quite likely – I’ve found both “uiviititut” and “uiguititut” for the French language, and the Inuktitut Living Dictionary has “uiguit” or “uiguirmiuq” for “the French” and “French [presumably as in 'Frenchman', singular]“, respectively.

  14. I read once about the occasionally strange demonyms used in France. Since marie-lucie hasn’t chipped in, I will boldly make a clueless contribution. “Demonyms” are called gentilés or noms ethniques. I found a site with 36752 (!) noms des habitants des communes françaises. Unfortunately, the peculiar ones are buried beneath the communal masses.

  15. What I love about “Michigander”, having grown up in Michigan myself, is that it’s a reclaimed insult. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigander for the history.)

  16. I just read that people from Barbados are Bajan, not Barbadian.

  17. The only ones for the area around Seattle I have heard are inteneded as jokes, starting with Seattleite.
    Auburn – Auburnaut
    Kent – Kentling
    Redmond – Redman
    Tukwila – Mockingbird
    Tacoma – Taco man, Taco mama

  18. Here on Haida Guaii (west of Canada) those of us who aren’t Haida are Guaiians (sp. in flux), in other words Islanders. The third name of this archipelago, the Misty Isles (as they have been for several days now) hasn’t yielded an demonym yet. Mistyislan? Hardly. Anyway, we’re only Canadian when they want our vote or taxes.

  19. People from Massachusetts are jocularly termed ‘Massholes’. And I’ve frequently heard the term ‘Mainerd’ for residents of Maine. In Alaska and apparently also in Oregon and Washington, the deprecatory term for residents of California is ‘Californicator’.
    Southeast Alaskans are sometimes called ‘Southeasterners’. I’ve also heard the term ‘Amphibian’ used, which is just making fun of the wet weather: “Though most of the state votes Republican, the Amphibian vote is tilted toward the other end of the spectrum.” Cordova and Valdez are equally wet, so this is somewhat unfair. BTW, Valdez is /vælˈdiz/, not /vælˈdɛz/, which the world learned about after the oil spill.
    People from Wrangell are Wrangellites, and the condition of living in Wrangell is called ‘Wrangellitis’.
    The -er suffix is particularly productive for Southeast Alaskan towns. ‘Ketchikaner’, ‘Petersburger’, ‘Klawocker’, ‘Klukwaner’, ‘Angooner’, ‘Pelicaner’, ‘Yakutater’, ‘Hydaburger’, etc. Sitka people are ‘Sitkans’, Hoonah people are ‘Hoonahns’, and Juneau people are the rather disappointing ‘Juneauites’. Unrelatedly, the joke name for the Tlingit village of Hoonah is ‘Hoonahlulu’. (Hoonah is from Tlingit Xunaa, itself from xoon-niyaa ‘north.wind-direction’.)

  20. mollymooly says:

    A Cork native is a Corkonian whether he comes from city or county, but the word Dubliner refers to urbanites only.

    In my experience, tis mostly people from the city call themselves Corkonians. The rest are Corkmen and Corkwomen. “The Kerryman” sells an edition over the county bounds called “The Corkmen”.
    Urban Dublin takes up so much of the county there can be very few Dublinmen who’re not Dubliners.
    Someone from Wicklow is a Wicklovian, but should really be a Viclovian.
    Wikifactoid: Residents of West Kent, those living west / north of the River Medway, are called ‘Kentish Men’, as opposed to residents of East Kent, who are known as ‘Men of Kent’.

  21. Miss Language Learning says:

    Thanks a lot for this article. I just learned a new word thanks to you!

  22. Tukwila – Mockingbird
    I laughed.

  23. As a native of Minnesota, I was thought it was pretty funny when I heard a fellow Minnesotan referred to as a “Minnepoppan.”
    [For those who don't get it:
    "Minnesota" spoken sounds like"Minnesoda" and in Minnesota people say pop instead of soda, so we get "Minnepop"]

  24. Jean-Pierre Metereau says:

    The capital of Chad used to be called Fort-Lamy and the inhabitants Lamyfortains. Now that it’s Ndjamena, they are just Ndjamenois.I just love demonyms.

  25. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Considering what a large number of demonyms there are in France (compared with a much smaller and blander list for England) I would have expected to see more from Quebec than there are.
    Hmm. I typed “Quebec”, which was immediately displayed as “Québec”. That’s something that drives me nuts when I find myself struggling with a Microsoft product (as rarely as I can get away with), which always thinks it knows better than I do what I want to write. However, no Microsoft products were knowingly used in preparing this comment, so the blame must lie elsewhere.

  26. No mention of ‘Baltimorons’? I have mostly heard it from people who live there and include themselves in the implied insult.

  27. “Now that it’s Ndjamena, they are just Ndjamenois.’
    There’s you some de-colonialization, right there. I suppose it beats language riots.
    “Tukwila – Mockingbird
    I laughed.”
    For you, dear, anything.
    “Minnesota” spoken sounds like “Minnesoda”
    Funny – I’ve always heard it pronounced “Mee nay sooo tah”.
    I saw a list once, that I failed to keep a copy of, that had regional nicknames for just about everry state and region in Mexico. Someone from the DF was a “Chilango” for instance. There is nothing at all derogatory about these names, and since then a place has opened here that offers “tortas chilangos”.
    I wonder what the derivation of ‘chilango” might be. Is it short maybe for “*Tenochtitlango?” Is that even a word in Nahautl?

  28. Rupert Goodwins says:

    I don’t know how people from Stockholm refer to themselves, but elsewhere in Sweden they’re called ‘noll åttas”, from the Stockholm dialling code 08.
    It isn’t complimentary.

  29. J. W. Brewer says:

    Re Bolton-Est, http://www.easterntownships.org sez “Once known as Peasley Corner, Bolton Centre and South Bolton merged in 1876 to become East Bolton. Its Francophone residents call themselves Boltonnais and English-speaking residents are known as East Boltoners!” http://www.municipalitedeboltonouest.com/ has a picture of the bilingual signage on the seat of government in “WEST BOLTON OUEST.”

  30. komfo,amonan says:

    I think my favorite demonym is Black Bitch, which is the term for a native of Linlithgow. I heard this when I lived in Edinburgh, and Google agrees/confirms.

  31. The pronunciation ‘Minnesoda’ is no surprise. Forty-odd years ago I learned that the dialect of the northern tier of States and Canada was Northern North American English. I think this designation is no longer used, or is it?

  32. Brian Daly says:

    Hehe I don’t really know why I enjoyed this one so much, but I do.
    Anyway, from Skibbereen here, so thats attarently Skibberonian.
    Cheers

  33. They left out general terms for Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Medicine Hat.
    Michiganian is the other term for people from Michigan. And people in the Lower Peninsula are sometimes called trolls because they live “below the bridge”, the very long bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

  34. @me:

    “The Kerryman” sells an edition over the county bounds called “The Corkmen”.

    …called “The Corkman”, obviously.

  35. “Townie for someone from Ville Mont-Royal, Quebec sounds kinda like a joke to me.”

    Nope, just historical. Ci-devant the place was known officially as the “Town of Mount Royal”. People still call it TMR when speaking English. So Townie is logical as a demonym.

  36. I should have made clear that the Town of Mount Royal was a different political entity from the City of Montreal.

  37. Bak in 2011 I forgot to mention that the inhabitants of Smithers B. C. enjoy the name Smithereens.

    Now I see that it’s in the list linked in the post.

    By the way, is there a term for the names of demons?

  38. marie-lucie says:

    names of demons

    According to other examples, it should be demonomyms, but naming does not always proceed by analogy.

  39. “I’ve run across some interesting demonyms in and around New Orleans.”

    Then there is the wider Louisiana “Coonass.” But, that might be more an ‘ethnonym’ than a demonym. (Or maybe just an ethnic slur).

  40. More demonyms, including an account of “Haligonian”.

  41. Jim wrote:
    “I saw a list once, that I failed to keep a copy of, that had regional nicknames for just about everry state and region in Mexico. Someone from the DF was a “Chilango” for instance. There is nothing at all derogatory about these names, and since then a place has opened here that offers “tortas chilangos”.
    I wonder what the derivation of ‘chilango” might be. Is it short maybe for “*Tenochtitlango?” Is that even a word in Nahautl?”

    My father was from the DF and the explanation I always heard is that “chilango” comes from its people’s love of chile and indeed my father loved to eat chile. He would always have an open can of chipotles en adobo (smoked jalapeños in adobo sauce) next to his plate. This was a long time before they ever became a trendy ingredient among chefs.

    I don’t know if “Tenochtitlango” was ever a word but I checked to see what the demonym is for people from Mazatlán and it’s Mazatleco or Mazatleca so I suppose a demonym for people from Tenochtitlán could have been Tenochtitleco or Tenochtitleca however I know I’ve seen the word Tenochca used several times in books and Wiktionary confirms it: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Tenochca

    I don’t know the nicknames for every state and region in Mexico but some of the best known are Norteños for Northeners, Tapatíos for people from Guadalajara (in Mexico the Mexican Hat Dance is called el jarabe tapatío, the “jarabe from Guadalajara”, a jarabe is a type of traditional music and dance), and Jarochos for the people from Veracruz.. My mother is from Durango and the nickname for its people is Alacranes because the state is famous for the alacrán, or scorpion, which serves as a state symbol.

    About the DF/Mexico City, there are actually two nicknames for its people, “chilangos” and “capitalinos. The way it was explained to me is this: a chilango’s family could’ve been from from somewhere else originally but “capitalinos” are people whose families have always inhabited the Federal District. This was explained to me by a cousin who was very proud of the fact that we’re capitalinos. My father’s old neighborhood was really an old village that got swallowed up by the megalopolis.

  42. Fascinating, thanks!

  43. Wow! I’ve read about Tenochka, but I thought the term has been absolete since the conquest.

  44. Of course, back then it meant a Triple Alliance of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, and Tlacopan which ruled most of Central Mexico.

    Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan are in the DF, but Tetzcoco is in the State of Mexico, but, I guess, two out of three is good enough.

  45. Aren’t inhabitants of the DF also called defeños? I remember trying to see if anyone ever referred to inhabitants of Washington, DC, as deceños.

  46. Keith,
    yes, defeños is another nickname (I forgot about that!) but in my experience chilango and capitalino/capitalina are more common. Capitalino is also used in a more general way with anything related to the capital city but there is definitely a sense in which it’s used specifically for people whose families are originally from there.

    SFReader,
    well yes, Tenochca is a historical term that appears in textbooks and such and it wouldn’t really be used for a present day inhabitant of Mexico City (unless it was for some special reason) but I brought it up because Jim above was wondering where the word “chilango” came from and if it was somehow related to Tenochtitlán. Also, I always thought tenochca was specifically for someone from Tenochtitlán itself and not Texcoco although I could be wrong.

    There is one possible nickname that could be considered derogatory, though. I once asked my father about these nicknames and I asked him what they call the people from Tlaxcala. He said,traidores (traitors). Clearly it was connected to how the Tlaxcaltecas had allied themselves to the Spaniards during the Spanish Conquest. I had never heard my dad (or anyone else, really) say it before or since but a google search for “tlaxcala” and “traidores” together brought up more than 29,000 hits so apparently it’s still an issue for some people.

  47. George Gibbard says:

    From what I understand people from Mazā-tlān ‘place of deer’ (mazā-tl ‘deer’) are Mazā-tē-ca-’. Since chīl-li in Nahuatl is ‘chile pepper’ and -tlān is a locative suffix (according to Launey locative expressions, including the names of places, are not exactly nouns), and tl assimilates to l when following it, and -c(o) is also a locative suffix (seen in Mēxi’-co, Āca-pōl-co, Tzinācan-tepē-c), then if two locative suffixes are allowed, Chīl-lān-co would mean ‘place of chile peppers’.

  48. George Gibbard says:

    Singular Mazā-tē-ca-tl.

  49. George Gibbard says:

    In Nahuatl, people from Mēxi’-co are Mēxi’-ca-’ (sg. Mēxi’-ca-tl) and people from Az-tlān (vowel length?) are Az-tē-ca-’ (sg. Az-tē-ca-tl), you might want to suspect a further historical analysis of -tlān and -tē- (not -tlē-) given Colimecas from Colima(n), and Mich-hua’-c-ān ‘the place of mich-hua’-que-’ ‘fishermen”.

  50. Wow, so much information packed into a few comments! I now know approximately three times as much about Nahuatl and its naming patterns as I did before.

  51. The least intuitive one that ever applied to me (not presently) is “Haligonian” for an inhabitant of Halifax, Nova Scotia. named after a similar place in England. No data on what inhabitants of the English place call themselves.

    They are sometimes called Haligonians too, as far as I know. The adjective originated in England, and was inspired by a popular pseudo-learned etymology of Halifax as ‘holy hair’ (OE hāliġ feax).

    There are, by the way, lots of interesting slangy demonyms in Northern England, e.g. Mackem for a person from Sunderland (from the way they pronounce “make them”), and everyone knows who a Geordie is. A Geordie can be a Novocastrian on formal occasions.

  52. George Gibbard wrote:
    From what I understand people from Mazā-tlān ‘place of deer’ (mazā-tl ‘deer’) are Mazā-tē-ca-’…

    I’m sure you’re correct and that was my first guess but the Spanish Wikipedia entry for Mazatlan says it’s residents are called Mazatlecos. There could be a number of reasons for this. I suppose one of them could be to distinguish the residents of the resort city from other people who can also claim to be ,mazatecas. For example, there is an indigenous group in Oaxaca and Puebla that is known as the Mazatecos: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazateco_(etnia)

  53. George Gibbard says:

    Ok, I stand corrected then.

    The language name Ayapaneco, the subject of earlier post, must be from another Nahuatl form in -ē-ca-tl, since -pan is another locative suffix. I think these forms were borrowed into Spanish in the (animate) plural -ē-ca-’, since -tl normally comes out as Spanish -te. So these would have first referred to groups of people and only secondarily have been made into adjectives and language names. The final -o instead of -a must be to be more masculine in Spanish. I wonder if Chilango could come from *Chilanga.

  54. Mazateco is from Mazatán, a town different from Mazatlán, with a similar etymology (‘deer place’), I would think from a different Nahua dialect. Some dialects have /t/ corresponding to /tɬ/ in others.

  55. George Gibbard says:

    alacrán ‘scorpion’ is so similar and yet so worryingly different from Arabic al-ʕaqrab ‘the scorpion’ (which has stress on the penultimate syllable).
    cf. al-ʔaqrab ‘the closest’ also ‘the agnate (relative within one’s own patrilineal clan)’
    according to Holy, the words are pronounced the same in Darfur.

  56. George Gibbard says:

    Y, if you’re right, I can’t find a reference to the right Mazatán in Spanish Wikipedia:
    https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazatán
    You’re certainly right that “Some dialects have /t/ corresponding to /tɬ/ in others.” But in dialects without the tl = t merger the place name has tl while the demonym has t, note the example of Tla-xca-l-lān (‘place of tortillas’ where tl has assimilated to preceding l) vs. Tla-xca-l-tē-ca-’
    automatic spell checking changed “demonym” to “demonic” without my noticing it until I proofread.
    What’s more interesting is derivation of tla-xca-l-li ‘tortilla’ literally ‘cooked thing’. Given that -xca- is ‘cook’ you might think that tla- is ‘thing’, but no such independent word exists. In fact, in Nahuatl compounds, the head comes second, as in āhuaca-mol-li ‘mole (mol-li) made from avocados (āhuaca-tl)’, so you wouldn’t expect ‘thing’ + ‘cooked’ anyway. In fact tla-xca-l-li is derived from tla-xca ‘s/he cooks something’, cf. qui-xca ‘s/he cooks (it/them, or an overt object may appear in the sentence)’. So the derived object noun is derived from an intransitivized verb, not the simple transitive verb. me-xca-l-li ‘cooked maguey’ (mescal is liquor made from cooked maguey) is derived from me-xca ‘s/he cooks maguey’ (‘maguey’ is me-tl). And Cuāuh-temō-c is not ‘eagle descending’ but ‘descending like an eagle’, from the verb with an incorporated noun cuāuh-temō ‘he descends like an eagle’.

  57. George Gibbard says:

    The derived object noun is -l-li after a vowel but apparently just -tli after a consonant: chīl-poc-tli ‘chipotle, smoke chili pepper’ from chīl-poc ‘s/he smokes chili peppers’.

  58. There are at least two places named Mazatlán with an “L” inhabited by Mazatecos in Oxaca: the municipalities of Mazatlán Villa de Flores and San Cristóbal Mazatlán. The region where the Mazateco language is traditionally spoken is (according to Spanish Wikipedia) called “la Mazateca” which consists of a mountainous area called the Sierra Mazateca (or Sierra de Huautla) and is divided into the Mazateca Alta (Upper Mazateca) an the Mazateca Baja (Lower Mazateca).

    Compare this to the regions inhabited by the Pimas in Sonora and Arizona known in colonial times as the Pimería Alta and the Pimería Baja. Compare this also to another region in Oaxaca known as La Mixteca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Mixteca) as well as the region known as La Huasteca, a region famous among Mexicans because it straddles several states and is the homeland of a well-known style of folk music, the son husasteco.

  59. George Gibbard: “al-ʕaqrab ‘the scorpion’ (which has stress on the penultimate syllable). cf. al-ʔaqrab ‘the closest’:

    Sorry, but I am not clear on what you are saying. the Arabic word for scorpion and ‘close’ are unrelated. They have different roots:

    scorpion: عقرب
    closest: اقرب (the comparative of قرب)

  60. marie-lucie says:

    GG, thank you for all the Mexican language details. (You too, Pancho).

    GW, I think that GG meant that the only word which resembles “alacrán”, besides the word for “scorpion”, is the completely unrelated word for “close(st)”.

    I think that the Arabic word is most likely the source of “alacrán”. There are not too many consonants that Spanish allows at the end of a word, so, short of adding a vowel to a borrowed word ending in an impossible consonant, it is likely to convert the original final consonant to the one most usually found in that position in the language.

  61. Indeed, the only word-final consonants in Spanish are /l/, /d/, /f/, /s/,and /n/; of these, /f/ is rare, and the others are all subject to dropping in one variety or another, with /s/ rendered as /h/ or zero with laxing of the preceding vowel, and /n/ rendered as nasalization of the preceding vowel. Final consonant clusters are unknown, and even clusters in the syllable coda occur only in loan words, where they too are subject to loss.

  62. “GW, I think that GG meant that the only word which resembles “alacrán”, besides the word for “scorpion”, is the completely unrelated word for “close(st)”.

    There is little resemblance to an Arabic speaker. However, there could be a resemblance to English, and maybe Spanish, speakers as we have no glottal stops or pharyngeal fricatives phonemes. Also, we don’t have vowel length distinctions. The first vowel in ‘closest’ is long and the first in ‘scorpion’ is short which is meaningful to an Arabic speaker.

  63. marie-lucie says:

    GW, indeed, the point is not what the word sounds like to an Arabic speaker, but how it could be more or less imitated by Spanish speakers who could not reproduce either the foreign consonants or the unforeign one in an unusual position.

    Borrowings start with more or less bilingual people adopting a word spoken by foreign speakers and passing it on (usually with some phonetic distortion) to members of their own linguistic community who have hever heard the original and will often distort it further, passing it on, etc until it becomes part of the borrowing language. Many languages are full of foreign words which have been “nativized” and often sound unrecognizable to speakers of the original language: French words in English, English words in Japanese, for instance, among many others.

  64. @John Cowan:on’t forget “reloj.”

  65. True — the RAE dictionary lists 23 such words. But all are very rare except reloj ‘clock’ < Old Catalan relotge < Latin horologium < Greek; carcaj ‘quiver’ < French carquois < Byzantine Greek ταρκάσιον < Persian tīrkaš; and boj ‘box, the tree Buxus sempervirens‘ < Catalan boix < Latin. The rest are at a guess Arabic loans. Final /x/ is also silenced by many speakers, who say reló or reló[h] instead. Indeed, I find it surprising that the word is not *reloje; cf. Port relógio, and Wiktionary says it may be a back-formation from the plural relojes.

  66. “GW, indeed, the point is not what the word sounds like to an Arabic speaker, but how it could be more or less imitated by Spanish speakers who could not reproduce either the foreign consonants or the unforeign one in an unusual position.”

    So, you are saying the Spaniards noticed the similarity of two different Arabic words – scorpion and closer? How is that relevant to them borrowing the word for scorpion into Spanish? I have no reason to doubt the borrowing. My only comment was related to the alleged similarity between the Arabic words for scorpion and closer. I also am aware that Spanish has many Arabic loans – I think I have read that something on the order of 10-25% of Spanish lexicon is borrowed from Arabic.

  67. Pancho, you’re right. The Mazatán I saw is on the coast in Chiapas, near the Guatemala border. Mazateco is spoken in the mountains of Oaxaca.

    For lack of a better suggestion, I still suspect the name is from some Mazatán which may be by now forgotten. I don’t have handy a map or other data to show whether Nahuatl with -t- is or was spoken in Oaxaca, though the Mazatláns you mention argue against it.

  68. Y, whether the place is named Mazatán or Mazatlán I think the traditional demonym would probably be “mazateca” or “mazateco” either way. It’s the pattern that I’ve noticed for these things. It seems like”mazatleco” for Mazatlán, Sinaloa is an exception to that.

    …the homeland of a well-known style of folk music, the son husasteco.

    Oops. I meant to write, ” the homeland of a well-known style of folk music, the son huasteco“. H-u-a-s-t-e-c-o.

  69. George Gibbard says:

    I wasn’t suggesting most Arabic speakers are confused about ‘scorpion’ vs. ‘closer’, or that it’s relevant to Spanish, I just thought I would throw it in as a fun minimal pair. Which it is — the first vowel in the elative ʔafʕalu is not long. In fact the only time a long vowel can precede a cluster in Classical Arabic is ā before a geminate, as in ħājjun ‘pilgrimage’, jāddatun ‘road’ (also in pl. jawāddu). In vernaculars, long vowel + cluster results from syncope; in some dialects e.g. Cairo, this stage was followed by vowel shortening before a cluster (not counting one across word boundaries): hiyya ʕarfa ‘she knows’ < Classical hiya ʕārifah.

  70. marie-lucie says:

    GW: So, you are saying the Spaniards noticed the similarity of two different Arabic words – scorpion and closer?

    Whether they did or not has indeed nothing to do with their borrowing of the word for ‘scorpion’. I am not sure why GG mentioned the word for ‘closer’, but perhaps he meant to point out that since the two words are pronounced the same in Darfur, where other languages are spoken besides Arabic, it shows that the Arabic consonants could be confused by (presumably) non-native or dialectal speakers, so by the same token Spanish speakers could also have borrowed a word with their own consonants instead of the Arabic ones. If GG comes back he might clarify.

  71. George Gibbard: Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t clear on what you were saying.

  72. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks GG, I guess you wrote and posted before I had finished my comment.

  73. marie-lucie: “so by the same token Spanish speakers could also have borrowed a word with their own consonants instead of the Arabic ones.”

    I think that is exactly what would be expected.

  74. marie-lucie says:

    And you, GW, did too.

  75. “And you, GW, did too.”

    I did? I heard a vowel distinction that doesn’t exist in my first language.

  76. George Gibbard says:

    I was thinking, in Classical Arabic ū probably can occur before a geminate in passive perfect forms of a measure III doubled verb, so 1ū22a (but I don’t know any measure III doubled verbs). Meanwhile ī I would think would never occur before a cluster because there happen to be no rules inserting ī after the first consonant.

  77. George Gibbard: “In fact the only time a long vowel can precede a cluster in Classical Arabic is ā before a geminate”

    Form VII? Like: انصرف Or, for that matter, how about Form I, first person singular: اكتب

    (I don’t know how to mark the diacritics on my computer)

    And, thanks again for the explanation. Frankly, I had forgotten this constraint on long vowels, if I ever knew it.

  78. marie-lucie says:

    GG and GW: And you, G…, did too

    I meant that we got our messages crossed as we were all writing at the same time.

  79. George Gibbard says:

    ʔins.arafa, ʔaktubu

    alif in these forms does not indicate a long vowel but serves as the “seat of the hamza” (glottal stop): إِنْصَرَفَ، أَكتُبُ
    Initial ʔā- is written آ with mādda on top: ٌآذَان ʔāðānun ‘ears’ vs. أَذَانٌ ʔaðānun ‘call to prayer’.
    Originally alif itself represented a glottal stop and long ā was not written. But then (already in pre-Islamic times) the glottal stop was lost in some dialects, just as it was in the ancestor of all modern dialects I know anything about. Arabic orthography was developed in one of the glottal-stop-less dialects, so e.g. old biʔr بار ‘well’ became bīr and was respelled بير and bu’s ‘evil’ باس became būs and was respelled بوس. In words like raʔs راس > rās ‘head’, alif was reinterpreted as indicating ā, and this spread to other words with ā, though in the Qurʔān, ā still is usually written without alif. Later, in the early Islamic period, it was decided that the orthography should be reformed to indicate the position of the old glottal stop. This is represented by hamza ء, which can have any of ا و ى as its “seat”: رَأْسٌ بِئْرٌ بُؤْسٌ or have no seat, as in ʔanbiyāʔ أَنْبِيَاءُ ‘prophets’ or Dāʔūd دَاءُودُ ‘David’. At the beginning of a word, the seat of hamza is always alif, a survival of the time when alif was the symbol for the glottal stop. Initial ʔā- is a special case, usually mādda is written and hamza is not: ٌآذَان ʔāðānun; in some Qurʔāns though, ʔāðān is written ءَاذَانٌ and, for whatever reason, mādda is instead written before an intervocalic hamza: أَنْبِيَآءُ ʔanbiyāʔu.

  80. George Gibbard says:

    On my Mac Arabic keyboard, diacritics etc. are written with shift, so shift+q is fath.a, shift+w is fath.a with tanwīn, etc.

  81. George Gibbard: شكرا يا استاذ

    I shouldn’t rely on my lying English-hearing ears. I suspect that when I hear stress in the syllable with an alif, I think I hear a long vowel. Also, as you know, the orthography is not helpful either as diacritics are often not fully used outside of religious texts.

    Out of curiosity, can you think of any words with an alif in an unstressed syllable?

    But, then maybe, I shouldn’t hijack this thread with an extended discussion of Arabic orthography and phonology. My apologies to everyone else who came here for a discussion of Canadian demonyms.

  82. Good lord, don’t apologize! One of the best things about this site is the way discussions divagate to diverse topics. There’s only so much you can say about Canadian demonyms, after all.

  83. George Gibbard says:

    alif in an unstressed syllable:
    not representing a long vowel: ʔatakállam(u) ‘I speak’
    representing a long vowel: in some dialects, e.g. Cairo, long vowels are shortened when unaccented. For CA, kāfirū́n(a) ‘unbelievers’, tārī́x(un) ‘history’, sāʕídnī ‘help me!’, dáʕā ‘he invited’.

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