On _hoosier_ as an insult, etc.

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 13 01:27:26 UTC 2012

Like residents of every other city, St. Louisans have quirks that must
be explained to outsiders: their fondness for Provel cheese [W:pedia:
"_Provel_ is a white, processed cheese that is popular in Saint Louis,
Missouri."], for one, or their _use of the word "hoosier" to mean
anybody [white] with three teeth, a pickup, and a mullet, instead of a
person from Indiana_. But the habit that seems to perplex newcomers
the most is the eternal question, "So, where'd you go to high school?"


Whenever I meet someone else from Saint Louis, I *still* ask this
question, despite my not having even been to Saint Louis since 1962.
Onne reason is that the answer lets me know whether the person is from
the City of Saint Louis or from somewhere else in the greater Saint
Louis metropolitan area. Ask a Brooklynite where he's from and he may
answer, "New York City." Ask Jonathan Franzen where he's from and he
*may* answer, "Saint Louis." But, ask where he went to high school,
and he *has to* answer, "Webster Groves." Now, I know that he's really
from Saint Louis *County* and not from Saint Louis sensu stricto by
any measure. City is city and county is county and, in this case, the
twain don't meet.

As for "hoosier," I've heard it used in the relevant sense by people
from as far away as Granite City, IL, and Cairo, IL, so it's an areal
phenomenon. in the local BE, it's pronounced [hu:dZI]. as a
consequence of which, no connection was (is?) made between "hoojie"
and "hoosier." (If *I* didn't make the connection, then it's extremely
unlikely that any other black St. Louisan made (makes?} the
connection. Fo' real, y'all.;-) It's not at all obvious to the naive
speaker that a difference like sE [ruZ] v. BE [rudZ] "rouge" has
anything to do with anything.)
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list