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Spring 2024

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Polygence Scholar2023
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Sumitra Rajagopal

Class of 2024Winchester, Massachusetts

About

Projects

  • "Evolution and Usage of English Demonym Suffixes of Countries " with mentor Jade (June 28, 2023)

Project Portfolio

Evolution and Usage of English Demonym Suffixes of Countries

Started Feb. 23, 2023

Abstract or project description

Research question: How did English demonym suffixes develop and change over time based on morphological patterns and etymology of the stem word?

The suffixes of demonyms are not consistent across the English language; various ones include -an (ex: American), -i (ex: Israeli), -ic (ex: Icelandic), -ish (ex: English), -ese (ex: Chinese), and -tch (ex: Scotch). This paper will look specifically at demonyms as they pertain to countries and will answer the question, “How did English demonym suffixes develop and change over time based on morphological patterns and etymology of the stem word?” I will examine the etymology of each of these suffixes and look for patterns in which cases each suffix is used, based on the time period during which the suffix was first used, the root word (i.e. the name of the place), and the locations of the places/people that the suffix applies to. I will gather my information by using websites and dictionaries to determine the origins of the suffixes (etymological dictionaries) and the time at which they began being used (Google n-Gram). I will structure this project by analyzing the origins and evolution of each suffix in order of when they started being used. At the end, I might look at some exceptions to any patterns that I find, if there are any. Studying the differences in English demonym suffixes can reveal changes in English grammar and Anglophones’ perceptions of people from foreign countries over time.