Friday, January 13, 2017

People From Indiana Now Officially Called "Hoosiers"

Call the neighbors and wake the kids. We're Hoosiers now!

That is, we're officially called Hoosiers by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), for whatever that's worth.

According to a recent story in USA Today, Senator Joe Donnelly and former senator Dan Coats had asked the GPO to update its official style manual and change the name of people from Indiana to "Hoosiers." And since they were in the process of updating the manual anyway, they made the change, so now we're really and truly Hoosiers!

No longer do we have to put up with this "Indianians" or "Indianans" nonsense, two names we have railed against as woolly headed and dumb.

It's not that there's anything wrong with having your state name as part of your demonym, a proper noun that refers to people from a particular country, region, or state. In fact, every other state in the country is part of the same sheep-like flock. Floridians, Kentuckians, Illinoisans, and even Michiganians and Wisconsinites.

I also learned that people from Massachusetts are not called Massholes, they're called Massachusettsans. (Guess you learn something new every day.)
A pork tenderloin, our official state sandwich

If you're not from Indiana, you may not understand how important this is. We've always called ourselves Hoosiers, even if the rest of the country only thought it referred to people from Indiana University who were abused by Bobby Knight.

For over 180 years, we've used the term, even though we're not exactly sure where it comes from. We've been using it since at least 1826 when the term first appeared in area newspapers.

It gained popularity in the 1830s when Richmond poet John Finley penned "The Hoosier's Nest," which contained the lines "The emigrant is soon located, In Hoosier life initiated; Erects a cabin in the woods, Wherein he stows his household goods."

Past etymological exploration about the term have turned up stories about mispronunciations of Hussar, the term "Hoshier," surveyors' questions of "Who's here?" and the rather dark question, "Who's ear?"

That last theory was offered by our very own Hoosier Poet, James Whitcomb Riley, he of "Little Orphant Annie" fame. Riley says that back in the day, we Indiana folk were quite the vicious tavern brawlers who would gouge and bite off the noses and ears of our opponents. This was such a common occurrence, said Riley, that a settler might enter a tavern the next morning, spy a piece of humanity on the floor, poke it with his toe and ask "Whose ear?"

This story was later commemorated by former Indiana inmate and noted ear biter Mike Tyson during his 1997 title bout with Evander Holyfield, where Tyson bit off a piece of Holyfield's ear in the third round of their fight.

But bitten ears and poets aside, many of us are proud to call ourselves Hoosiers, especially now that we've got the full backing of the GPO, and can put this whole "Indianians" nonsense to rest. Donnelly and Coats even said they found the term "a little jarring to be referred to in this way," as did the rest of us.

I remember a few years ago, reading an article written by someone who claimed to be an expert on our fair state. Except she used the term "Indianian" throughout the piece, which betrayed her as a fraud, and she was promptly roasted by angry Hoosiers on Facebook and Twitter.

We Hoosiers may be mild mannered in most things, but call us the wrong name, and we can be royal bastards.

Because we're a proud people. We pioneered our state, we settled it, and we built it. Not like California and Florida, which were built by other people. We did it ourselves. We're often overlooked and forgotten — we're called a flyover state by those haughty stiff necks on the coasts — but we're a state of firsts and onlies. We can claim things that no one else in the world can.

For example, we have the only town in the entire world, Nappanee, to be spelled with exactly two of each letter: two N's, two A's, two P's and two E's.

We have the world's largest ball of paint in Alexandria, the world's largest concrete egg in Mentone, and the world's largest sycamore stump and world's largest steer, both from Kokomo.

We're also the only state that lists the Sugar Cream pie as its official state pie, and the pork tenderloin as its official state sandwich. No seriously, we had meetings about it. We voted and everything.

These are the kinds of things that make us better than other states. Massachusetts has been trying to declare the fluffer nutter sandwich — peanut butter and marshmallow fluff — their official state sandwich, but their legislature has been stuck on the issue for 10 years. A whole decade, and they can't even agree on a damn sandwich that, frankly, sounds a little nasty.

And now we're the first state to have a non-state name demonym. Not those lazy Californians, not the rude Marylanders, and certainly not those swamp Yankees, the Rhode Islanders.

Say it loud, say it proud, we're Hoosiers.

Well, not too loud and proud. Who do you think we are, New Yorkers?



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