ethnonym
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An ethnonym () is a
name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either uniquely, or within a given context. The entity identified by a name is called its referent. A person ...
applied to a given
ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, an ...
. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories:
exonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, grou ...
s (whose name of the ethnic group has been created by another group of people) and autonyms, or
endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, grou ...
s (whose name is created and used by the ethnic group itself). As an example, the largest ethnic group in
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
is Germans. The ethnonym ''Germans'' is a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
-derived exonym used in the
English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic people ...
. Conversely, the Germans call themselves the , an endonym. The German people are identified by a variety of exonyms across Europe, such as ( French), ( Italian), ( Swedish) and ( Polish). As a sub-field of anthroponymy, the study of ethnonyms is called ethnonymy or ethnonymics. Ethnonyms should not be confused with demonyms, distinctive terms that designate all people related to a specific territory, regardless of any ethnic, religious, linguistic or some other distinctions that may exist within the population of that territory.


Variations

Numerous ethnonyms can apply to the same ethnic or racial group, with various levels of recognition, acceptance and use. The State Library of South Australia contemplated this issue when considering
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (so ...
headings for literature pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some 20 different ethnonyms were considered as potential Library of Congress headings, but it was recommended that only a fraction of them be employed for the purposes of cataloguing.


Change over time

Ethnonyms can change in character over time; while originally socially acceptable, they may come to be considered offensive. For instance, the term
gypsy The Romani (also spelled Romany or Rromani , ), colloquially known as the Roma, are an Indo-Aryan peoples, Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally nomadic Itinerant groups in Europe, itinerants. They live in Europe and Anatolia, and have Ro ...
has been used to refer to the Romani. Other examples include
Vandal The Vandals were a Germanic peoples, Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland. They established Vandal Kingdom, Vandal kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean islands, and North Africa in the fifth century. The ...
, Bushman,
Barbarian A barbarian (or savage) is someone who is perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive. The designation is usually applied as a generalization based on a popular stereotype In social psychology, a stereotype is a generalized belief ...
, and
Philistine The Philistines ( he, פְּלִשְׁתִּים, Pəlīštīm; Koine Greek Koine Greek (; Koine el, ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, hē koinè diálektos, the common dialect; ), also known as Hellenistic Greek, common Attic, the ...
. The ethnonyms applied to
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American" ...
have demonstrated a greater evolution; older terms such as ''
colored ''Colored'' (or ''coloured'') is a racial descriptor historically used in the United States during the Jim Crow, Jim Crow Era to refer to an African Americans, African American. In many places, it may be considered a Pejorative, slur, though it ...
'' carried negative connotations and have been replaced by modern-day equivalents such as ''
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American ...
''. Other ethnonyms such as ''
Negro In the English language, ''negro'' is a term historically used to denote persons considered to be of Black people, Black African heritage. The word ''negro'' means the color black in both Spanish and in Portuguese, where English took it from. T ...
'' have a different status. The term was considered acceptable in its use by activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, but other activists took a different perspective. In discussing an address in 1960 by Elijah Muhammad, it was stated "to the Muslims, terms like Negro and colored are labels created by white people to negate the past greatness of the black race". Four decades later, a similar difference of opinion remains. In 2006, one commentator suggested that the term Negro is outdated or offensive in many quarters; similarly, the word "colored" still appears in the name of the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In such contexts, ethnonyms are susceptible to the phenomenon of the
euphemism treadmill A euphemism () is an innocuous word or expression used in place of one that is deemed Profanity, offensive or suggests something unpleasant. Some euphemisms are intended to amuse, while others use bland, inoffensive terms for concepts that the us ...
.


Morphology and typology

In English, ethnonyms are generally formulated through suffixation; most ethnonyms for toponyms ending in ''-a'' are formed by adding ''-n'': ''Bulgaria, Bulgarian''; ''Estonia, Estonian''. In English, in many cases, the name for the dominant
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
of a group is identical to their English-language ethnonym; the French speak French, the Germans speak German. This is sometimes erroneously overgeneralized; it may be assumed that people from
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...
speak "Indian", despite there being no language in India which is called by that name. Generally, any group of people may have numerous ethnonyms, associated with the political affiliation with a state or a province, with geographical landmark, with the language, or another distinct feature. Ethnonym may be a compound word related to origin or usage. A ''polito-ethnonym'' indicates that name originated from the political affiliation, like when the polysemic term ''
Austrians , pop = 8–8.5 million , regions = 7,427,759 , region1 = , pop1 = 684,184 , ref1 = , region2 = , pop2 = 345,620 , ref2 = , region3 = , pop3 = 197,990 , ref3 ...
'' is sometimes used more specifically for native, German speaking inhabitants of
Austria The Republic of Austria, commonly just Austria, , bar, Östareich is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying in the Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine States of Austria, states, one of which is the capital, Vienna, ...
, who have their own endonyms. A ''topo-ethnonym'' refers to the ethnonym derived from a
toponym Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of '' toponyms'' ( proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name o ...
(name of a geographical locality, placename), like when the polysemic term ''Montenegrins'', which was originally used for the inhabitants of the geographical area of the ''Black Mountain'' (
Montenegro ) , image_map = Europe-Montenegro.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Podgorica , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , official_languages = Mo ...
), acquired an additional ethnonymic use, designating modern ethnic Montenegrins, who have their own distinct endonyms. Classical geographers frequently used ''topo-ethnonyms'' (ethnonyms formed from toponyms) as substitute for ethnonyms in general descriptions, or for unknown endonyms. Compound terminology is widely used in professional literature to discriminate semantics of the terms.


Related terms

In onomastic studies, there are several terms that are related to ethnonyms, like the term ''ethnotoponym'', that designates a specific
toponym Toponymy, toponymics, or toponomastics is the study of '' toponyms'' ( proper names of places, also known as place names and geographic names), including their origins, meanings, usage and types. Toponym is the general term for a proper name o ...
(placename) that is formed from an ethnonym. Many names of regions and countries are ''ethnotoponyms''.


See also

*
-onym The suffix ''-onym'' (from grc, ὄνυμα / name) is a bound morpheme, that is attached to the end of a root word, thus forming a new compound word that designates a particular ''class'' of names. In linguistic terminology, compound words that ...
* diaspora studies * hyphenated American * statistext *
onomastics Onomastics (or, in older texts, onomatology) is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt:orthonym, orthonym'' is the proper name of the object in question, the object of onomastic study. Onomastics can be helpful in ...
* Confessionym


References


Sources

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External links

* {{Authority control Types of words