Reading this piece on the Atlantic about negativity (bad reviews, say, or hate speech) garnering higher ratings in Google searches, I was reminded of a reflexive discomfort that I have for group names as nouns. The article talked about the difference between “Jewish people” and “Jews”. The noun–“Jews” is more likely to be used on anti-semitic websites, whereas actual Jewish people say, well, “Jewish people”.
This has long bugged me for no great reason: I react with revulsion when I hear about what “the Japanese” think, but read right past mentions of “Japanese people”. I’ve never quite been able to pin down my problem precisely, except that the noun form sounds like a pejorative, whereas the adjective is simply an adjective. Of course, one could very easily say “All Japanese people are racist,” and one would be racist one’s self, and another could easily say “Japanese have a tendency to have fewer children per couple than most other people,” which is a simple and factual observation. Something about the connotations of the noun just grate on me.
I have no larger point here–it’s just neat that google appears to back me up: at least with regard to Judaism, anti-semites are statistically more likely to use the noun then others. Hooray for statistical evidence supporting my otherwise weird reactions to word choice?