How is the adjectival form of a place name formed? For instance, why is a person from Houston called a "Houstonian" and not a "Houstonite"? Why is someone from Detroit called a "Detroiter" and not a "Detroitian"? and why in heaven's name is someone from Glasgow referred to as a "Glaswegian"?
English is rich in forms for this and other designations, due to varying native forms and extensive borrowings from other languages.
Popular usage seems guided by the basic rule of ease of pronunciation and euphony, that is, just what seems to sound best in each case. This latter is also why there are, in fact, competing forms (two or more variations of names) for certain places.
"Glaswegian" for someone from Glasgow developed by analogy to another name coming from medieval Latin. The base is Galwidia (pronounced Gahl-WEE-dee-yah), medieval Latin for Galloway which came to be pronounced Galweja.
A person from Galweja, then would be a Galwejan, spelled Galwegian. This being a common name (in the region), then, by analogy, the same ending form for "person of" is added to the first part of Glasgow (Glas), for Glas+wegian.
Looking for a Plural
Based on notes in an email exchange 10 December 2001
Article written and posted 05 December 2004
Last edited 27 June 2012
Copyright © 2004 Orville Boyd Jenkins
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