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I'm writing a sci-fi novel in which humans travel to a nearby star known by the catalog number Gliese 892, where they encounter a sentient species.

Listening to numerous videos about such stars, it is clear that each number in the catalog name is pronounced separately (so it is "Gliese eight nine two," not "Gliese eight hundred ninety-two").

The crew refers to members of this species as Gliese eight-nine-twoians (and jokes about how awkward the name is).

Is there a rule or guideline that can be applied to capitalization and hyphenation of this term?

I met my first Gliese Eight Nine Twoian?

I met my first Gliese eight-nine-twoian?

Something else?

Or

The Gliese-eight-nine-twoian was nice.

Something else?

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Your example doesn't seem substantially different than the multi-word demonyms we usually use.

North America -> North Americans
Pacific Islands -> Pacific Islanders
New Mexico -> New Mexicans
etc.

This even works with longer place names:
New South Wales -> New South Welshmen
Prince Edward Island -> Prince Edward Islanders

...some of the time...
United States of America -> United Statesmen of America

The failure of the latter has inspired some to search for better alternatives, such as Frank Lloyd Wright's "Usonians." The point being, if the demonym is too cumbersome, it won't be used. This is likely the case with Gliese Eight Nine Twoian.

But in any case, that would be the correct way to write the term, if that's the term you're going with.

  • Indeed, part of the story is the astronauts communicating with the natives and finding a less cumbersome, human-pronounceable term that the aliens find reasonable. – Eric J. Jan 18 at 21:01
  • Would this hyphenation be correct? A Gliese Eight Nine Twoian-sized chair? – Eric J. Jan 18 at 21:05
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    Yes, @EricJ. I'd follow the same pattern as "New York-style" (as in New York-style pizza), which seems to be more popular than "New York style": New York-style, New York style – Juhasz Jan 18 at 21:15
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While there are certain formulations that could be used, if something is awkward, it's unlikely it would stick in popular use.

In other words, there is nothing that's, technically, correct about how something should end up. It's just convention—something that is not always followed in every case.


In your example, it's at least as likely, if not more likely, that people would acknowledge the awkwardness of the so-called correct phrase and come up with something simpler.

For instance, they could use an acronym for Gliese Eight Nine Two:

I met my first Gent.

This is, after all, why we have acronyms.


As per a comment I received, it could also be that the planet is referred to as Gent and its inhabitants as Gentians. But language isn't always logical, so it depends on how you think people would have adopted its usage in this case.

  • I think a bare acronym, with no suffix, is a bit de-humanizing (de-sophontizing?). Since the OP seems to intend positive relations, I think something like "Gent" might be used for the planet, with its inhabitants being "Gentians". – ruakh Jan 19 at 17:51
  • @ruakh That's also a possibility. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jan 19 at 17:56

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