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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Demonyms and Adjectives|
|Question:||The demonym of Britain is British or Briton. The demonym of England is English or Englander. What would be the demonym of Albion, an old name of Britain? Would it be Albionian, Albionese, Albionish, etc.? How can we determine which is the right one, when it's rarely used? A lot of U.S. states use its name as an adjective (ex. ''California government'' instead of ''Californian government''), even when an adjective could be easily formed. Why is this usage commonplace?|
|Reply:||Let me add a note to Prof. Pyatt's response. Your question about right usage nearly answers itself. When a word is rare or archaic, there may be no accepted derived form, as with your suggestions for Albion. Judgments of correctness depend on usage, not the other way around, and without usage no such judgment is likely to form. As to your second question, it is useful to distinguish between function and form. California is a noun, and like most nouns, especially place names, it can be used to modify another noun. Modification is a function a word can fill but does not necessarily shift a word from one form class (noun) to another (adjective).|
|Reply From:||Herbert Frederic Stahlke click here to access email|