S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Collective adjectives

Most countries have adjectives which refer to things which belong to or are from that country.
America - American
England - English
France - French
Canada - Canadian
Japan - Japanese
Italy - Italian

Put the word "the" in front of the adjective and you have an adjective representing a noun phrase. "The English" is short for "The English people". And yet - any of these adjectives ending in a -sh/-ch sound is plural, and any of them ending in -ian is singular.
Singular: the American, the Canadian, the Italian
Plural: the English, the French, the Japanese

Why? Where does this pattern come from? And is this related to the plural of "fish"?

P.S. And since when has a macro been defined as a "picture with a caption"? I've seen this several times in the past 24 hours.
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