East is back (was: /or/ distinctions: TOUR)

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Mon Apr 17 15:52:03 UTC 2000

From:    "Steve K." <stevek at SHORE.NET>
: On Fri, 14 Apr 2000, Peter A. McGraw wrote:

: > To a westerner, "out east" sounds really bizarre.  Except for
: > "Down East," which I've always understood as a specific region
: > and its culturee rather than a direction, the only way to
: > describe any place east of the Mississippi (roughly) is "BACK
: > east" (as opposed to "out here").

: To me, 'back east' would imply that one has been there at some
: point?

: I could be alone in my little solitary isogloss, however. I think
: my use of 'out east' is modeled on 'out west' and I never really
: heard people refer to the east all that much, so I probably made
: up my own phrase.

Well, to this Easterner, it's consistently "out West" and "back East". To
many of my students here in Utah, though, most of whom are from Utah,
southern Idaho, and Southern California, "out East" is a fairly common
naturally occurring form.

I had a professor at the University of Maryland who was from California, and
she used "out East", even in Maryland. She said that she tended to think
that the usage was a result of the US West finally becoming an established
(rather than a frontier) place for people to live, so that the West to
Westerners was a "here" rather than a perennial "there", no matter where you
happened to be at the time.

David Bowie                                       Department of English
Assistant Professor                            Brigham Young University
db.list at pmpkn.net              http://humanities.byu.edu/faculty/bowied
   The opinions stated here are not necessarily those of my employer

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