Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A word usage that always annoys me and feels like Euroenglish to me is "touristic".

I don't believe I've ever seen it printed or heard it used by a native English speaker and I've travelled in most of the English speaking countries and work in tourism.

But it's very very common to hear "touristic" from Europeans who speak very good English. Also at least on the web if not in printed media which I'm less aware of.

To me as an Australian the word to use is "touristy". It does sound more colloquial when I compare the two but it is used by all levels of society. Interestingly my web browser is marking "touristic" as wrong and accepting "touristy".

I have checked in dictionaries and both words are listed but they don't break down historic or demographic usage.

So is "touristic" Euroenglish or plain old normal English? Is it more or less formal / more or less artificial than "touristy"? Could it even be that they're not quite synonyms?

(Example usage from travel.SE: "During summer touristic places are open everywhere")

Since this has seemed to be a little controversial so far I did some Googling and found:

  • A thread on this topic on a site called Word Reference
  • Google Ngrams shows results for the English spelling "touristic" under three foreign European languages besides English but shows results for "touristy" only for English.
share|improve this question
    
I'm from Belgium, so a non-native speaker. I came here after my browser said that it was wrong. Something I would never have guessed, it sounds very natural to me. It probably,in the case of native Dutch speakers, comes from the fact that we have 'toerist' and 'toeristisch' which translates to tourist and ... tourist :S So it's only a natural reflex, for a Dutch speaking person, to make this distinction in English as well. (The latter one is an adjective and that is why I would say a touristic office) I didn't find it on dictionary.cambridge.org but I found "Touristic: adj. of or perta –  LaurensP Mar 8 at 21:29
1  
What's Euroenglish? –  Gala May 6 at 13:57
    
@GaëlLaurans: The English spoken by fluent but nonnative speakers in Europe. –  hippietrail May 6 at 14:14
    
@hippietrail Is that a thing? Obviously, the English used in international settings (say scientific conferences and the like) has a particular flavour and I can also discern some peculiarities in the way people who share a specific first language (say French speakers or German speakers) speak English but I was not aware that Europeans in general share a particular variant of English. –  Gala May 6 at 18:41
    
It seems to be a thing. It gets no shortage of Google hits. It's true certain countries or regions share more pseudo-English, but even across countries there is quite a bit of shared pseudo-English. It's not always pseudo, sometimes it's words or phrasings native speakers do use, but much less than nonnative speakers, or vice versa: advices, crowdy, fun/funny, handy, infos, a parking, salty/savoury, shade/shadow, a smoking, terrace, touristic, until now, lack or confusion of the compound tenses, etc. –  hippietrail May 7 at 0:04

9 Answers 9

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As a Dutchman, I have noticed the discrepancy between the English word and most Continental words. I believe the problem lies in the fact that we have a single all-round, neutral adjective on the Continent—at least your closest neighbours do: Holland, Belgium, France—, while you must make do with tourist or touristy.

Een toeristische attractie (Du.) — a tourist attraction.

This sounds perfectly fine in Dutch; in English the noun tourist, while acceptable, is forced to do the work.

Een toeristische route (Du.) — a tourist route? a touristy route?

Perhaps you will disagree, but neither English word sounds nearly as appropriate as the Dutch adjective; tourist route, arguably the better of the pair, somehow has a hint of modern marketese, while Dutch toeristische route is more neutral.

Moreover, Dutch and French are less ready to use nouns as adjectives, which makes using tourist even less attractive for us than it is for the English. For that reason, we crave a neutral word referring to sight-seeing but not evoking the image of concrete tourists. It is very hard to pin-point the difference in connotation.

share|improve this answer
5  
I think Een toeristische route might be more aptly translated as "scenic route," although that misses the point of your answer entirely. –  KitFox Sep 5 '11 at 16:56
1  
@Kit: Yes, I thunk I agree. The noun makes it somehow slightly different. –  Cerberus Sep 5 '11 at 16:59
2  
I agree with everything except the bit that you say is arguable. I find tourist route and most similar compounds quite neutral and I don't feel they're tainted with marketing-speak. –  z7sg Ѫ Sep 5 '11 at 16:59
    
@z7sg: Perhaps you're right... but it just doesn't sound quite like what we Conts would like. Hard to pinpoint. –  Cerberus Sep 5 '11 at 17:47
    
Biologische groenten vs organic veg ;) –  mplungjan Jun 18 '13 at 21:24

In British English the two words are not equivalent. Touristic means "of or relating to tourism" and is a neutral word without connotation, while touristy is usually used in a pejorative sense.

touristy; relating to, appealing to, or visited by tourists (often used to suggest tawdriness or lack of authenticity)

Possibly non-native speakers think they should use the adjective touristic while native speakers prefer to form compound nouns from tourist, for example a tourist map or a tourist route.

In other Germanic languages compound nouns are formed without spaces so I concur it's quite likely that they feel that an adjective should be used instead although in fact the more natural way is to use a noun.

Sometimes the adjective touristic is preferred (or unavoidable). For example:

... a revival intended to enhance the touristic potential of the city of Saint Louis

We are all used to the exploitation of art by tourism, but touristic exploitation of the miseries of war and the destruction of art is a grotesque perversion which brings us up short.

share|improve this answer
    
I believe I have observed non-native English speakers using "touristic" both neutrally and in the negative "tourist trap" sense though it does seem apparent that there are two senses for it and only one for "touristy". It would be nice to have some citations/quotes of British use of "touristic" if you find any. –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 17:35
2  
1848 Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. 64 373 'The touristic hordes, who paddled up and down...' (definitely negative) or 1894 Athenæum 26 May 672 'It has importance from another than the touristic point of view' (neutral). I love and respect the OED, but it's worth noting that without my subscription I'd have been hard put to think of any uses of the word at all. –  TimLymington Mar 23 '12 at 14:40

Do native English Speakers use "touristic"? I found this little discourse, which might help:

Person 1: my experience this term is used mostly by non-native speakers of English. I didn't even think it was really a word. I've never heard europeans use the word which in my experience is common: touristy. I looked at some dictionaries and found that some have an entry for touristy but not touristic. Some also note that touristy generally has negative connotations. All worth looking into

Person 2:In response to this: I am a native English speaker from Europe. I was born in England and I have also lived in Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.It is interesting for me because I have had the opposite reflex when I came across the word "touristy". I thought that "touristy" was a made up word. When I hear the word "touristic" I think of the positive aspects of the described destination i.e. Worth visiting by tourists. Whereas when something is described to me as being touristy I think of too many tourists spoiling that place. I am interested to hear comments from others

Person 3:As an American, I initial reaction was that touristic was made up and rare, while the very common touristy was slang or non-standard. A quick google search indicates the opposite, however. And m-w.com and dictionary.com have entries for both.

As can be seen, it seems that the native speakers don't use it, and somehow, the Europeans and non-native speakers use it.

The cause of this could be the fact that Europeans, whose first language isn't English, will learn a word that exists, but isn't really popular among native speakers. This word, could apply specifically to a certain European concept or issue, and perhaps that's why it becomes popular in Europe. That's a conjecture of my own.

share|improve this answer
    
I was thinking the same, as I suppose is suggested in the wording of my question, but I wanted to know if I held the common view or was I wrong. It might help if some people could provide some stats from dictionaries. I have an OED and a W3 at home but I'm currently travelling... –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 10:05
1  
I'm pretty sure one of those persons was me! –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 10:53

A search in Amazon will yield about 206 results of books that have in its title the word "touristic" vs. ZERO for "touristy".

If you use NGram and compare "touristic" with "tourist", "tourism" and "touring" you'll find that the word is used but not as much compared to the latter three:

Ngram: touristic vs. tourist vs. tourism vs. touring

However, if you compare it with "touristically" and even the French "touristique", you'll find out that it occurs more frequently than the latter two:

Ngram: touristic vs. touristically vs. touristique

What's curious is that even EL&U flags "touristically" as a misspelling!

And to get back to your question regarding "touristic" vs. "touristy", here's the Ngram:

Ngram: touristic vs. touristy

You might be on to something here - it seems that "touristy" is getting more popular than "touristic" through the years.

share|improve this answer
4  
As a native speaker, I find 'touristy' more informal, and 'touristic' off-sounding if spoken. But 'touristy' sounds too colloquial to be used often in print. I say this as it might account for the NGrams stats since that is purely for written records. –  Mitch Sep 5 '11 at 22:03

Rather than "touristic", which to a native english speaker just sounds wrong, even if it isn't, wouldn't "touristed" do just as well? It sounds better to me, and I think it means the same thing.

Interestingly, "touristic" always reminds me of Dutch backpackers. They love that word.

share|improve this answer

As a native speaker, I don't use it, but there's no reason why you can't.

share|improve this answer
1  
Yes that's not really what I was asking though. In fact if you check each option on Google Ngrams one by one you will see on both British and American English the two terms are pretty close but not so on overall English. And when you check the French, German, and Spanish ones "touristic" is on the rise in all those European languages and "touristy" does not occur at all. I think this is very interesting circumstantial evidence. –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 8:48
    
yeah, but the point is that language changes. dictionaries are mostly useless at describing current language usage because they are always behind the curve. I guess the thing you are interested in, which I intentionally ignored, is that you are looking for 'normal English' which, to me, is meaningless. Which variety of English do you mean by 'normal English'? –  user12549 Sep 5 '11 at 8:51
    
I'm specifically asking about native vs non native English usage. Perhaps only Euroenglish is changing, perhaps it's driving a change even in younger native speakers, perhaps lots of native speakers have been using it for ages in some place and I was simply oblivious to it. Perhaps some usage or style guides have something to say either way? –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 8:58
    
and which 'native' speaker are you referring to? South African? Singaporean? Indian? New Zealander? Caribbean? American? Filipino? British? Certainly you don't assume that all of these dialects are in perfect agreement over this term whereas all 'nonnative' speakers use a different term, right? –  user12549 Sep 5 '11 at 9:01
    
I'm referring to all of them as I thought I covered in my question. –  hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 9:07

There is a subtle difference. Touristy is a little derogatory. E.g.: "That restaurant looks very touristy; not very authentic." It's true that we natives don't use touristic much. We prefer to simply use the word tourist or even tourism as a compound noun acting as an adjective. E.g.: "There ara a lot of tourist excursions."

share|improve this answer
    
I would say that touristy only can add a pejorative connotation, not that it necessarily does. Also that using tourist attributively can also add the connotation. If I said "that's just a tourist restaurant" it would mean it's not authentic because it's aimed specifically at tourists. If I said "that's a touristy restaurant" it might mean it's popular or even crowded with tourists whether or not it's authentic. I might enjoy the same place in the low season for instance. But I would never say "that's a touristic restaurant" unless mocking foreign English speech. –  hippietrail Feb 8 at 5:23

In the end, it does not matter what non-natives prefer. A native would never say a touristic site. We say a tourist site.

share|improve this answer

Tourism surely as in Acme Tourism rather than Acme Touristic Service?

... a revival intended to enhance the touristic potential of the city of Saint Louis

... a revival intended to enhance tourism for the city of Saint Louis

or even

... a revival intended to enhance tourism in/for Saint Louis

Touristic may be in some dictionaries, but so is dove, as I dove in the red sea and saw fish.

No more I think needs to be said...

share|improve this answer
2  
Tourism is not an adjective, it's a noun. And even though it can be used as a noun adjunct in such phrases as "Acme Tourism Service", it cannot be used like that generally. The sentence, "We ate at a touristic restaurant," cannot be re-written as "We ate at a tourism restaurant." The latter just doesn't make sense. –  p.s.w.g Jun 18 '13 at 21:58

protected by tchrist Jul 4 at 18:52

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.