Published on theBeijinger Feb 5, 2019
"What do you call somebody from Xi'an? Xi'anian? Xi'aner? Xi'anese?"
None of the above, apparently, as I recently learned while writing a blog headline, and putting the question out to my colleagues here at the Beijinger.
While citizens of Beijing and Shanghai have firmly established demonyms in English (Beijinger and Shanghainese, respectively), to our knowledge they are the ones that do. Why? Perhaps other cities have simply not been talked about enough in English to have (yet) earned a demonym, but regardless, as residents of China we think it's high time this imbalance was addressed.
After extensive research of at least six minutes, we discovered that although there are no hard and fast rules, in English most demonyms are created by adding a suffix to the end of the city name, such as:
-(a)n (mostly for countries) as in Nigerian
-ite (mostly for cities) as in Vancouverite
-ian as in Oregonian
-er as in New Englander
-ese as in Japanese
But the list of exceptions is long and varied; for example Glasgow – Glaswegian; Manchester – Mancunian; Liverpool – Liverpudlian; Melbourne – pretentious asshole.
After a brisk bit of brainstorming, the collective hive mind of the Beijinger staff came up with this non-exhaustive list of names for people who live in a certain place. We offer it up humbly for your reading pleasure:
Dongbei – Dongbang'r
Xi'an – Xi'anite or Xi'anger
Chongqing – Chongqinger
Tianjin – Tianjinian
Ningbo – Ningboner
Xiangxi – Xiangxigger
Huaibei – Huaibeigian
Wuhu – Wuhu'er
Dali – Dali'ite
Hohhot – Hohhotter
Zhengzhou – Zhengzhoulese
Qingdao – Qingdaoist (Daoist lite)
Sanya – Sanyanite
Chengdu – Chengdudes and Chengdudettes
Hangzhou – Hangzhouker
Wudaokou – Wudaokouhort
and our clear favorite:
Shenzhen – Shenzhentlemen and Shenzhentlewomen