Dictionary.com Word FAQs
Is there any system for the formation of derivatives of place-names, i.e., adjectives meaning 'pertaining to' and nouns meaning 'person from'?
Many English and non-English place-names have special names for the inhabitants (person from) and adjectival forms (pertaining to). These are called demonyms. Some are conventional, e.g., "Parisian" from Paris and "Roman" from Rome. Typically, names ending in the letter a add an n to the end to make an adjective, while other vowels add an an. Other strategies to create demonyms are: -ite (mostly for cities; Vancouverite), -er (mostly for cities; Londoner), -ish (Spain > Spanish), -ese (mostly non-English, non-European; Taiwanese), -i (mostly Middle East; Irani), and -man/-woman (Englishman, Englishwoman). In some cases, both the location's name and the demonym are produced by suffixation, e.g., England and English (derived from the Angles). In some cases, the derivation is concealed enough that it is no longer morphemic, e.g., France > French. In some cases there is no obvious relation, e.g., Netherlands > Dutch. Many demonyms cannot be deduced and therefore one needs to refer to a dictionary, encyclopedia, geographical dictionary, almanac, or other reference book. In most cases, an inhabitant of the place will be the same as the adjectival form, e.g., American, American; Californian, Californian.