-ese ethnicity/nationality nouns in a sequence of other demonyms

HSS

Senior Member
Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
While there are a lot of other threads regarding -ese demonyms, I doubt this query has not been cast. If there is a series of denonyms in a question like the following, would you still use 'a Japanese person'?

Are you an Italian, an American, a Peruvian, a Russian, a Japanese, a Korean, or an Australian?

Hiro
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    It doesn't sound very natural to repeat articles so many times. I'd expect: Are you Italian, American, Peruvian, Russian, Japanese, Korean or Australian?

    But if you are going to repeat the article, your use of "a Japanese" sounds all right.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hello, everyone. Who's an American here? And who's a Japanese? I heard we have them here.

    How's this then?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    As I am sure you realise, "-ese" nationalities are problematical as a noun. When you have a long list of nationalities then they might be unavoidable, but with just two it seems better to me to use a different term:
    Who's an American here? And who's from Japan?​

    Edit: Note that "American" cannot be used in any way for ethnicity, so "from Japan" is a better match than "Japanese", which can refer to ethnic origin as well as nationality.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Hello, everyone. Who's an American here? And who's a Japanese? I heard we have them here.

    How's this then?
    That sounds awful to me, especially that last part. It makes them sound like some sort of alien species. :eek::eek:
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Now that I read it again, yes, Donny, it sounds somebody from the outer space is among them.:eek:

    A Japanese is more about someone's nationality whereas the adjective Japanese explains their ethnicity. If that is the case, maybe the next sentence stands, does it not?
    I'm not a Japanese, but I'm Japanese. I was born and raised in the States under Japanese parentage.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    A Japanese is more about someone's nationality whereas the adjective Japanese explains their ethnicity. If that is the case, maybe the next sentence stands, does it not?
    I'm not a Japanese, but I'm Japanese. I was born and raised in the States under Japanese parentage.
    Not necessarily. Noun forms are used for ethnicity as well as nationality. "An Arab" would undoubtedly refer to ethnicity, and so by extension can "a Japanese", even though you choose not to use it that way yourself.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    A Japanese is more about someone's nationality whereas the adjective Japanese explains their ethnicity.
    No, I do not agree with that statement at all. The adjective "Japanese" is used millions of times a year to mean "a citizen of Japan".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Not necessarily. Noun forms are used for ethnicity as well as nationality. "An Arab" would undoubtedly refer to ethnicity, and so by extension can "a Japanese", even though you choose not to use it that way yourself.
    There are dozens of "Arab" countries, so the term cannot refer to nationality. You can't extend that to "Japanese".

    But I agree with your point: nouns and adjectives are both used for nationality and for ethnicity.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I'm not a Japanese, but I'm Japanese. I was born and raised in the States under Japanese parentage.
    The common term for that is "Japanese-American". It is both a noun and an adjective. It means someone raised in America, who has a Japanese ancestry and cultural heritage. The short version is "American", not "Japanese".

    Everybody in America has ancestors from one or more other countries. A person's ancestry and cultural heritage are important, but only to that person.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    In Australia we almost never hear “he is a Japanese”, “he is a Chinese” or he is “a Singaporese”. But we are happy with, “he is a Malaysian”, “he is an Indonesian”, “he is a Papua New Guinean”, “he is a New Zealander”.

    I think the idiom (rather than grammatical rule) is something to do with the (mistaken?) idea that the “-ese” ending denotes an adjective not a noun.
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    If there is a series of denonyms in a question like the following, would you still use 'a Japanese person'?
    To be clear, for me the answer is an emphatic “yes”.
    And it’s nothing, in my mind, to do with questions of ethnicity or nationality.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The problem isn't with subtleties of ethnicity or origin, it's the grammatical fact that the -ese words are no longer used as nouns. They used to be: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese is a pun; it looks like it means "translated from the Portuguese (language)" but refers to Robert's nickname for her, 'my little Portuguese', because of her colouring. This use of a Chinese, a Japanese, a Maltese, a Portuguese, is just old-fashioned and sounds odd; in a long list I think it sounds acceptable, but not on display by itself.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    No, I do not agree with that statement at all. The adjective "Japanese" is used millions of times a year to mean "a citizen of Japan".
    That's exactly what I mean. Nationality, citizen of the country. In the States, how would you distinguish someone from Japan in a sojourn and, say, a third-generation Japanese citizen? If you simply ask 'Are you a Japanese?' this is clearly asking a nationality??? Nonetheless, does this include Japanese Americans? (Now, wait a minute, I'm getting back to 'a Japanese' as a singular noun again:oops:)

    Oh! a second-generation Japanese, a third-generation Japanese --- do they also require a noun like man, woman etc. following them to sound more natural???
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    It’s both nationality and origin.

    It is, “He is fourth generation Japanese Australian.”
    Not, “He is a fourth generation...”
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Okay, thanks, Orble.

    Grammatically speaking, 'He is fourth generation Japanese Australian' is a bit problematic. 'Fourth generation' is not an adverb yet it modifies an adjective 'Japanese Australian.' But this must be the way it goes.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    'Fourth generation' is not an adverb yet it modifies an adjective 'Japanese Australian.' But this must be the way it goes.
    It’s not unusual to find words working in different ways.
    Many words do not belong to a fixed word class. They get their classification from their job in a particular context. E.g. green:
    I’m wearing a green dress. (Adjective)
    I met him on the green. (Noun).
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    [QUOTE="HSS, post: 17582961, member: 143577"In the States, how would you distinguish someone from Japan in a sojourn and, say, a third-generation Japanese citizen? ]If you simply ask 'Are you a Japanese?' this is clearly asking a nationality???[/QUOTE]
    It could mean either.

    A: Are you Japanese?
    B: Yes, I am. I'm here on a business trip.

    or
    A: Are you Japanese?
    B: By origin, yes. My grandparents and parents came to the US in the 50s, and I was born here.
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Just looked around online ....

    This must be used in the published form as the second generation Japanese here points to the generic entity, must it not?

    The second report is more of especial interest to sociologist, reviewing, as it does, the occupational and educational status of both the first- and the second-generation Japanese.
    (Vocational Aptitudes of Second-generation Japanese in the United States, vol1, by Edward Kellogg Strong and Reginald Bell)
    (I'm starting to think I must set up a spin-off thread for this)
     

    HSS

    Senior Member
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    The problem isn't with subtleties of ethnicity or origin, it's the grammatical fact that the -ese words are no longer used as nouns. They used to be: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese is a pun; it looks like it means "translated from the Portuguese (language)" but refers to Robert's nickname for her, 'my little Portuguese', because of her colouring. This use of a Chinese, a Japanese, a Maltese, a Portuguese, is just old-fashioned and sounds odd; in a long list I think it sounds acceptable, but not on display by itself.
    Could anybody kindly suggest how far back we should go to when the -ese ethnicity nouns were used? Maybe surpassing 100 years? I was curious how the nouns meaning ethnic orientations have faded out. Perhaps, it per se sounds too rash?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I don’t think “a Japanese” ever sounds okay to me. I would never use it. I would always add a noun: “a Japanese person,” “a Japanese man,” “a Japanese citizen,” “a Japanese national,” etc.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don’t think “a Japanese” ever sounds okay to me. I would never use it. I would always add a noun: “a Japanese person,” “a Japanese man,” “a Japanese citizen,” “a Japanese national,” etc.
    That grates on me, too, although I have no particular objection to "the Japanese" or "the Chinese" to denote a collective plural.

    But in BE, "a Chinese" means a Chinese takeaway meal, and not a Chinese person.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I have no particular objection to "the Japanese" or "the Chinese" to denote a collective plural.
    Same, although they do sound somewhat history book-y, as though they referred to “civilizations” or the like. In most everyday contexts, I would say “Japanese people” and “Chinese people.”
    But in BE, "a Chinese" means a Chinese takeaway meal, and not a Chinese person.
    Interesting! We don’t have that in American English. (We do say “I got Chinese,” with no article, to mean “I got Chinese food.”)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    But in BE, "a Chinese" means a Chinese takeaway meal, and not a Chinese person.
    Yes, but "an Indian" is often an Indian meal (at a restaurant or a take-away), and "an Indian" can definitely refer to a person. Not, I might add, that I generally favour -ese nouns for people from a particular place or of a certain race.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top