In response to my musings on the English word Nigerien, meaning “of or from Niger”, a friend suggests “Nigerois”. This would indeed be less confusing than Nigerien, and is fairly well attested on the Web, though not in any dictionary I can find apart from Merriam Webster Online.
A blogger “siphoning off a few thoughts” has a nice take-down of what s/he calls this “tricky English fake word of the day” here. “Nigerois is tricky because not only do we not refer to people as they refer to themselves [Nigérien], we went to the trouble of creating a word that sounds to an English speaker as if it were French.” A very good point: the tendency to deliberately foreignise English words, sometimes in order to show off an over-confident and sadly incomplete linguistic awareness, can lead to some grotesque results.
Two pet hates of mine are “Galician”, when pronounced with an affected lisp to seem more Spanish, and even worse the nonsense word “Andalucian” (again with the lisp that paradoxically isn’t even characteristic of the Spanish of that area). The adjective Galician (in Spanish, gallego, in Galician, galego), referring to Galicia in northwest Spain, is pronounced “ga-LISS-ian”; to add the lisp is like missing off the s in Parisian — “pa-REE-an” — in order to show off the fact you know the s is silent in French in the word Paris (“pa-REE”), although the French word is of course parisien.¹ Meanwhile we have a perfectly good English word for the region known in Spanish as Andalucía: it’s Andalusia (“anda-LOOSE-ia”²), and the adjective is Andalusian (“anda-LOOSE-ian”). But as so often, a little learning is a dangerous thing. The Spanish adjective is andaluz (“anda-LOOTH”). The ridiculous invention “Andalucian”, or even “Andalucían” (“anda-looth-EE-an”), is neither English nor Spanish, but gets hundreds of thousands of hits on Google.
It makes you think. Maybe there is a role for properly-compiled dictionaries after all? Maybe we can’t always rely on muddling through with Google, the lexicographical equivalent of “ask the audience”.
¹ And in the same vein we might add Munich, when pronounced with an affected German-style fricative “ch”, forgetting the fact that in German it’s not Munich anyway but (as you know, gentle reader) München.
²I gather it comes out in US English as “anda-LOOZH-a”. Yuck.