Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with a passion. Learn More

Using country name as an adjective?

The media in English speaking countries seems to be developing a tendency toward using a country’s name as an adjective.


Syria crisis instead of Syrian crisis

France fullback instead of French fullback

Another is the anglicising of some country names and nationalities:-

Argentina becomes Argentine and Argentinians becomes Argentines.


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I'm okay with Syria crisis (like world crisis). However, the France fullback is just so wrong....has to be French fullback. I don't have technical reasons to back it up, just sounds right.

Oh, and Anglicising foreign place names? As a rule I would say they should stay as they are. I see no reason to change Nederland to The Netherlands or Deutschland to Germany, and if one cannot pronounce some names....learn how to!

Lets look at Argentina first. When I was young it was sometimes called The Argentine (to rhyme with the River Tyne), but according to Ngram, this was always a minority usage, especially in BrE. Its official name in English (as used by the Argentinian government) is still The Argentine Republic, and although the people are probably usually referred to in English as Argentinians, Argentine seems to be used quite a lot as an attributive adjective - the Argentine economy etc (including or even especially by Latino-sounding authors).

Incidentally, Argentinian is no less English than Argentine, perhaps even more so. The Spanish is Argentino/a - "una chica argentina","el tango argentino". Argentine is arguably closer to the Spanish than Argentinian, but the '-an' ending is more typical of English. But if you can have a Pole and a Swede, why not an Argentine?

Incidentally, a couple of other countries seem to have dropped 'the' as well. It's still officially The Gambia, but seems to be more commonly named without 'The'. Before its independence, Ukraine was often referred to as The Ukraine, but the 'the'-less version now seems to be the preferred one. (If other Slavic languages are anything to go by, Ukrainian won't even have a word for 'the') .

On Anglicising country names in general - I suggest going with what's natural - where there's a generally used English name, use it. If I pronounced Paris as Paree or told you I lived in Warszawa in Polska you'd no doubt think I was being pretentious, and I'd agree with you. Apparently SpeakEnglandverydelicious wouldn't, however. If we went by his/her system I might describe my holiday thus:

"We went to Italia, to our little house near Firenze in Toscana, stopping off in Milano and Venezia as well as Lago di Como on the way" - Pretentious! Moi?

Now to sports etc - "England full-back" gets slightly more hits on Google than "English full-back". And I think I understand why - in these days of the internationalisation and commercialisation of of sport, the team name "England" has a stronger identity internationally than simply the nationality of the players. I see plenty of Poles wearing England T-shirts, for example.

Lastly, in Google search 'Syria crisis' just tops 'Syrian crisis', but at Google Books it's very different, with the adjective version well ahead of the noun. But I can see that it could be said that this crisis isn't simply a Syrian problem; it affects the whole region, hence the use of the noun.

It's too early for the current crisis in my next-door neighbour to make it into Ngram, but on Google, 'Ukraine crisis' has about 3 times as many hits as 'Ukrainian crisis' and 'Crimea crisis' about twice as many as 'Crimean crisis'. In contrast the 19th century conflict is invariably the 'Crimean war', not the 'Crimea war'. So perhaps we are seeing a shift.

Warsaw Will May-09-2014

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Correction - I was forgetting about Ngram and capitalisation. Judging by Ngram, The Argentine was the more popular form in both Britain and North America up to around 1900. It continued to be used in British English but has been decreasing in popularity since 1940ish. I think it's considered pretty old-fashioned these days.

Warsaw Will May-10-2014

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As for anglicising the names of foreign countries, we say Germany for Deutschland, Sweden for Sverige etc. I can't see that changing.
The French say Angleterre, la Grande Bretagne etc.

Skeeter Lewis May-11-2014

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With New Zealand, you have no choice. Well, informally you can say Kiwi, but there's no "New Zealandish" or anything like that. Are there any other countries whose adjectival form is simply the name of the country?

Regarding the other point, I'd find it quite odd if someone (in English) started talking about Italia or Deutschland. Watching the World Cup, English-speaking commentators and writers seem split on whether to say the Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire. I much prefer the former.

Chris B Jun-20-2014

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@Chris B

Apparently FIFA issued a directive that commentators should use Côte d'Ivoire, but I too prefer Ivory Coast.
Then we can call the people Ivory Coasters. :)

user106928 Jun-21-2014

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Some commentators may be following the FIFA guidelines, but the print and online media certainly aren't. A site search of BBC Sport returns 9130 for Ivory Coast, with a mere 9 for Côte d'Ivoire, at Sky Sports it's 43,200 to 167, and the picture at the rest of the British media seems pretty similar. Google Search gives:

"Colombia beat Ivory Coast" - 165,000
"Colombia beat Côte d'Ivoire" - 9720
"Colombia beats Ivory Coast" - 196,000
"Colombia beats Côte d'Ivoire" - 2010

Warsaw Will Jun-22-2014

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@Chris B - The only other one I can find is Gibraltar, and a few island or island groups with 'island' in the name. Some single islands have the same adjectival form as the name, eg Pitcairn Island; some plural groups, such as the Solomon Islands can take a singular form for the adjective - the government there refers to itself as the Solomon Island Government, for example, but also seem to be used in the plural.

Warsaw Will Jun-22-2014

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Ivorian Salomon Kalou, in the short My World Cup Dream, on BBC World News, calls it Ivory Coast.

Warsaw Will Jun-22-2014

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My generation still calls it The Ivory Coast but 'the' has been dropped.

Skeeter Lewis Jun-23-2014

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I find it extremely irritating and quite frankly a little disrespectful. I have yet to see it used to describe America or Britain people but if I fall off a scooter on a Greek island I may now need to see a 'Greece doctor' !?

Patrick Walter Feb-11-2017

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