"an American" vs. "a Taiwanese"

Anyone know any easy ways to explain how certain nationalities can be an (adj.) as well as a (n.) for a person from that country (like “American” or “Canadian”), whereas other nationalities can be an (adj.) but don’t really work as a (n.)?

I’m trying to explain why saying, “I am an American” is fine, but saying, “I am a Taiwanese” or, “I am a French” sounds strange.

The best I can tell you is that “Taiwanese” and “French” are adjectives only, while “American” and “Canadian” are both nouns and adjectives. As to whether there’s a rule that governs the distinction, I can’t tell you.

Yeah, that’s what I would say too, but annoyingly when I looked up the word “Taiwanese” online, this is what I found:

Tai·wan·ese
[tahy-wah-neez, -nees] Show IPA adjective, noun, plural Tai·wan·ese for 2.
adjective
1.
of or pertaining to Taiwan or its people.
noun
2.
a native or inhabitant of Taiwan.

3.
the Chinese language of Taiwan, a member of the Min group.

It is a noun. You can say ‘the Taiwanese like blah’. But no, it needs ‘people’ after in the example you give. Most countries that don’t end in -an (Italians, Bulgarians, etc), but I’m sure there are exceptions!

I propose:
Place: Taiwan
Language/People/Culture: Taiwian (pronounced as Tywin)

Taiwanese = mass noun or “uncountable” noun. So you can have “The Taiwanese believe they are not part of China, while the Chinese disagree.”

But you cannot say “A Taiwanese hit a Chinese over the head in a bar fight last Friday.”

The same holds true of Japanese and any other nationality that ends with -ese.

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]Taiwanese = mass noun or “uncountable” noun. So you can have “The Taiwanese believe they are not part of China, while the Chinese disagree.”

But you cannot say “A Taiwanese hit a Chinese over the head in a bar fight last Friday.”

The same holds true of Japanese and any other nationality that ends with -ese.[/quote]

You discriminate the Asian!

Nah, Koreans are in the clear. :wink:

Now, if we called Taiwanese ppl “Formosans…”

And Asianeses.

"I’m a Taiwaner => “I’m an Asianer” :roflmao: :loco: :roflmao:

The Asianses, precious!

“Why don’t we go over and see what the Asianses are doing? They brought over that nice bottle of cabernet last month.”

There is.
It is here.
edufind.com/english/grammar/nouns6.php
You need to add a noun ie citizen, traveler, student or man or woman to the adjective to make it work.
If Hokhongwei was right you wouldn’t be able to say a Portuguese but you can. You Mr. Chris have hit it spot on. As for Asianese, that is the equivalent of Arseholese of which I come. Yes, I owe you a beer and you know who you are. Back in Taiwan yet?

Yeah, I don’t agree with that list at all. Would you really ever say “I met a fascinating Czech yesterday” or “This Greek I know is a great singer” or “My favorite historical Chinese is Hong Xiuquan” ???

Those all sound patently wrong.

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]Yeah, I don’t agree with that list at all. Would you really ever say “I met a fascinating Czech yesterday” or “This Greek I know is a great singer” or “My favorite historical Chinese is Hong Xiuquan” ???

Those all sound patently wrong.[/quote]
They might to you but I am sure there are some who would consider them just fine. I find some of the list unnatural too, but your first two sentences seem fine to me. Number three not so much.

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]Yeah, I don’t agree with that list at all. Would you really ever say “I met a fascinating Czech yesterday” or “This Greek I know is a great singer” or “My favorite historical Chinese is Hong Xiuquan” ???

Those all sound patently wrong.[/quote]

but I hear people say “that damn Chinese” on occasion, and they sound pretty sure they are using it right…

To quote one of my favorite teachers: “語言是感覺.” We’re all going to have different opinions on what is and is not acceptable, especially if we’re from different geographical regions. As a professional editor and translator, I would mark the sentence “I am a Taiwanese” wrong.

If you Google “a native Burmese,” you’ll find that almost none of the results on the first three pages (I didn’t bother to look past that) use the phrase that way. Burmese is nearly universally used as an adjective.

Regardless, that touches upon the bigger issue: it sounds kind of weird to say “I am a Briton,” as well. In terms of place of origin/identity group, English tends to prefer adjectives to nouns – “I’m Jewish,” rarely “I’m a Jew” – and I surmise this has something to do with our bizarre vilification of nouns. Think about it – almost all ethnic slurs are nouns or noun phrases, and even seemingly neutral terms like “Jew” and “black” can seem almost discriminatory when you use them that way:

“I met this Jew the other day…” “The blacks in this area tend to frequent this restaurant.”

I don’t know why, but both sentences would make me shudder.

In summary: Adjectives are sometimes much nicer than nouns. Also note, I’ve never heard a Taiwanese-American say “I’m a Taiwanese…”

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]
Regardless, that touches upon the bigger issue: it sounds kind of weird to say “I am a Briton,” as well. In terms of place of origin/identity group, English tends to prefer adjectives to nouns – “I’m Jewish,” rarely “I’m a Jew” – and I surmise this has something to do with our bizarre vilification of nouns. Think about it – almost all ethnic slurs are nouns or noun phrases, and even seemingly neutral terms like “Jew” and “black” can seem almost discriminatory when you use them that way:

“I met this Jew the other day…” “The blacks in this area tend to frequent this restaurant.”

I don’t know why, but both sentences would make me shudder.

In summary: Adjectives are sometimes much nicer than nouns. Also note, I’ve never heard a Taiwanese-American say “I’m a Taiwanese…”[/quote]

you might be onto something. in the example i gave, “that damn Chinese” also uses the word as a noun to make it sound derogatory.

as for “i’m a jew”

Official video link: southparkstudios.com/clips/1 … -christmas

[quote=“E04teacherlin”][quote=“Hokwongwei”]Yeah, I don’t agree with that list at all. Would you really ever say “I met a fascinating Czech yesterday” or “This Greek I know is a great singer” or “My favorite historical Chinese is Hong Xiuquan” ???

Those all sound patently wrong.[/quote]
They might to you but I am sure there are some who would consider them just fine. I find some of the list unnatural too, but your first two sentences seem fine to me. Number three not so much.[/quote]

The Greek example sounds fine to my ears. The Czech doesn’t but that’s only due to homonyms. Using kiwi as an adjective sounds strange to North American ears but then again kiwifruit isn’t contracted everywhere.

This is when Chinglish is ideal: “He’s a Taiwanren.”