Pacific Islander - "of Pacific Islander descent" (adjective)

ShirleyLing

Banned
chinese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara,_California
The racial makeup of Santa Clara was 52,359 (45.0%) White, 3,154 (2.7%) African American, 579 (0.5%) Native American, 43,889 (37.7%) Asian, 651 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 9,624 (8.3%) from other races, and 6,212 (5.3%) from two or more races.
"Pacific Islander" is not an adjective, so shouldn't the underlined phrase be "of Pacific Islander descent"?
 
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  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Moderator note

    I have changed the title. Please include the topic phrase, word or usage in the thread title.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Asian = from Asia
    European = from Europe
    Pacific Islander = from an island in the Pacific

    As the list is about racial matters, the words "of the race" preceding the adjective/adjectival phrase are implied, i.e. Pacific Islander = of the race from an island in the Pacific.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    But in my original post, "White", "African American", "Asian" were are used as adjectives, because there are no trailing "s"s.
    And in the exact same way, in your original post "Pacific Islander" is also being used as an adjective.

    Nouns can be used attibutively as adjectives:
    We boarded an Amtrak train.
    I wish they all could be California girls.
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I'm beginning to think you might be right but, in this context, the usage would be correct. It seems to be that, occasionally, English add -er to a geographical location to indicate a person's nationality, origin, occupation and/or racial appearance and thus creates a noun. e.g. "Ha! He would say that, he is a New Yorker!" which means, "Ha! He would say that, he is from [originates in] New York!" This is probably from the way in which some words (mainly verbs) are turned into nouns: Sell - seller, buy - buyer, farm - farmer, plumb - plumber, to play football - footballer, etc.

    If you mean that "(0.6%) Pacific Islander," could/should be taken to include, say, "a Japanese person who was born and brought up on an Pacific Island", then I agree, but you will note that there is a very small percentage and to break this down to Micronesian, Polynesian, Melanesian, etc, would be pointless, especially as "Asian" comprises (I assume) everyone from Pakistan to Japan and from Eastern Russia to Indonesia.

    I suspect that the adjective should be "Pacific" but I have never seen this used on its own.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Shirley

    It appears you are trying to relate the English language to some sort of rule none of us native speakers have ever heard of. Please re-read GreenWhiteBlue's post, i.e, African American, Native American and Asian, are all nouns used as adjectives.

    If they had broken out "Chinese," that would have been as well.

    Note that you are trying to nit-pick the usage of the U.S. government, specifically the Bureau of the Census, which has used the term for about 50 years.
     
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    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree with the respondents here. The usage is completely unremarkable. There is no marked adjective form of Pacific Islander (e.g. "Pacific Islandese" is not accepted). The phrase is conventionally unchanged where an adjective force is required. E.g. "The Festival will showcase foods, crafts, artefacts, singing and chanting, dancing and storytelling in the finest Pacific Islander tradition". Your suggestion "of Pacific Islander descent" uses the phrase in this way too, so this does not solve your problem, and has the disadvantage of sounding awkward and taking up unnecessary space where brevity is required.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Mr Graham has it right. "Pacific Islander" is a label employed by US government agencies. It's based, like other racial and ethnic categories they use, on terminology established by the Bureau of the Census. "Pacific Islander" is specifically a geographic rather than racial designation and mainly denotes origins of Hawaii, Samoa, and Guam.

    "Asian", also a geographic designation in government parlance, refers chiefly to China, Japan, India, the Philippines, Korea, and Vietnam when speaking of origins of those in the US population.
     

    abenr

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Shirley

    It appears you are trying to relate the English language to some sort of rule none of us native speakers have ever heard of. Please re-read GreenWhiteBlue's post, i.e, African American, Native American and Asian, are all nouns used as adjectives.

    If they had broken out "Chinese," that would have been as well.

    Note that you are trying to nit-pick the usage of the U.S. government, specifically the Bureau of the Census, which has used the term for about 50 years.
    You are bang on the money. :warn:
     
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