In English we capitalise demonyms. Someone from Paris is a Parisian. When we insert words from other languages we indicate the non-English nature of the word with quotation marks or italics. "He had his Italian citizenship recognised jure sanguinis," for example. If there is no English-language equivalent of a demonym, and I choose to use one from another language in my English writing, should I capitalise it or not in the case it is not capitalised in the original language?

"We giardinenses/Giardinenses (people from Villa Giardino, Córdoba, Argentina) are fighting a battle against disinformation."

1 Answer 1


If you're using an English word, use English rules. If you're using a foreign word, use rules appropriate to that word.

You've already alluded to that: we say that someone from Paris is a Parisian and that gets a capital letter. However, he would live la vie parisienne, and do so in italics to boot.

If a language makes a particular word into a common noun, then when using that word, it's a common noun:

We giardinenses are fighting a battle against disinformation.

That would be different if you were coining an English word (in the same way as "Parisian"):

We Giardinoan men are fighting a battle against disinformation.

This approach is the one advised in New Fowler's Modern English Usage (R W Burchfield/OUP, 1998) but the entries on foreign words and French in particular [which it's possible to extend to other languages] are too long to quote directly.

  • 5
    Obviously, 'If a language makes a particular word into a common noun', it should not be capitalised, but It is not obvious that giardinenses in the OP's example is a common noun, rather than a demonym that is not capitalised in the language of its origin (in accordance with the general the rules of that language). The example of parisenne is not analogous to giardinenses: when somebody uses parisenne it is obvious (even apart from the italics) that one is using a foreign word, because there does exist a diferrent English word, Parisian.
    – jsw29
    Jul 16, 2021 at 16:07
  • If one is coining an English word for the inhabitants of Villa Giardino, why wouldn't that new English word be Giardinenses?
    – jsw29
    Jul 16, 2021 at 19:28
  • Because that's not the way English forms its words. If you don't like an answer, it's more productive to write your own than argue in comments.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 16, 2021 at 19:37

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