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October 13, 2009

Romeo, Romeo, why are you Romeo? Then why are we the Japanese and the Koreans Koreans?

Lately I noticed one great unfairness. We Japanese are named as "Japanese", while the Koreans are named Koreans. In the school we used to be taught that the suffix "--ese" is an expression of disrespect. The suffix "---ian" is for normal races like the Arians, we were told.
Knowing or not knowing about it, many people in the West also use more simple "Jap". It is safer, perhaps they think, because it is without any suffix-----my goodness.

Just for convenience let us unify the suffix to "---ians" for all nations: Japanese to Japanian, and Chinese to Chinian and so on and so forth.


Author: georg | April 27, 2012 3:15 AM

It isn't as distinct as you seem to imply.
There's a strange set of rules based on the endings on the original nouns that I, a native English speaker, don't even fully understand.
China, Burma, Vienna, Guyana and the like receive the -ese treatment.
"Japanese" seems to break this trend from first glance, but one must recall that English is a Germanic language. The German word that correlates to this is "Japanisch". This word, however, is more appropriate when referring to the Japanese language, or an object originating from Japan, rather than a person.

So, yes, it's a bit unfair, but not in the way you imply.

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