What’s in a Name’s Ending?

Have you ever wondered why we say Californian and Bostonian, but then say New Yorker, Londoner and Midwesterner? A friend recently used the term Kendallites to refer to habitues of Kendall Square, Cambridge MA. I understood perfectly what he meant and it sounded just right, certainly better than Kendallers or Kendellians. But why? After all, we use a derivation of the medieval Latin word cantabrigia to refer to the people of Cambridge — Cantabrigians!  (Note: would the purists among us prefer Grontabriccians? 🙂 The Cam River in England had a Celtic name ‘Granta’ which was changed to Latin ‘Canta’ and then through Norman influence became ‘Cam’.)

Well, there are certainly other -ites: socialite, suburbanite, ruralite. Ruralite? Probably not, just thought I’d sneak it in. 🙂  There is also townie for a class of urban dweller, not townite or townian. What’s right, is it Nob Hillers or Nob Hillians or Nob Hillites? I kind of like Nob Hillies, actually.  What are the odds you could persuade (consciously or unconsciously) people around you to say northernites and southernites, instead of northerners and southerners?  Language has its own momentum, like that of a fourteen-ton sea vessel. One person pushing against its side may not have much effect. And yet, slowly, inevitably, it does change course.

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2 Responses to What’s in a Name’s Ending?

  1. bbear says:

    Ooh, this is fun!
    Would Indianapolis folks be called Indianapolitans? Indianapolites? Indianapolisians?
    Are residents of Phoenix Phoenicians?
    Are those from Worcester MA Worcestrians and those from Wooster OH Woostericals?
    Is Jacksonville home to Jacksonvillains?
    Is Casper WY where Caspersians reside?
    Is Santa Barbara CA full of Santa Barbarians?
    Who lives in Albuquerque? Albuquerquestrians? Albuquerquestions?
    Does Buffalo NY give rise to Buffalopians?
    Is someone from Yuma AZ a Yuman? If so, are two of them Yumen?
    If a citizen of Monaco is a Monegasque, is one from Waco TX a Wegasque?
    If a native of Glasgow is a Glaswegian, is someone from Barstow CA a Barswetian?

    and, yes, those habitues of Kendall Square could be Kendallabra 😉 …

  2. achouston says:

    BBear, you are on a roll here! 🙂

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