What's Good for the Michigoose...

The other day, I was faced with a perplexing question: What do you call someone from New Jersey? "A genius," my colleague Chris, ...
by | March 12, 2007
 

Michigander The other day, I was faced with a perplexing question: What do you call someone from New Jersey?

"A genius," my colleague Chris, a Garden State native, offered.

But what I meant was, is it "New Jerseyan" or "New Jerseyite?" There are actually a lot of demonym disputes like that, enough to make a state government writer's head spin.

A couple of Web resources provide some guidance (here and here), but neither seems definitive, so allow me to make some observations and suggestions:

* Massachusetts residents, so far as I can tell, are the only Americans without a dictionary-recognized name that's a variant of their state's name (I even tried a dead-tree dictionary). "Bay Stater" is all they've got, which is lame (I'm from Virginia and we also have a bay). Some people have tried Massachusettsan, but it seems too clunky to catch fire. I prefer something sleeker like "Achu" or "Chewy."

* Most people agree that "Arkansan" should be pronounced like "are Kansan." But, perhaps since people from Arkansas aren't Kansan, others prefer "Arkansawyer."

* I'm a big fan of "Michigander" (much better than "Michiganite" or "Michiganian"), but shouldn't that only be used for men? A woman from Michigan would be a "Michigoose."

* My Microsoft Word drives me nuts by saying "Coloradoan" is right and "Coloradan" is wrong. A Rocky Mountain News columnist agrees with me.

* "Missourian" is correct, of course, but what about people who pronounce "Missouri" as "Missourah?" Do they say, "Missourah-an?"

* Connecticut is an interesting case. The dictionary-recognized form is "Connecticuter" (how cute!), but no one uses it, to the point that it only gets 820 Google hits. "Connecticutensian" and "Connecticotian" are slightly more widespread on the Internet, although neither seems to be in contemporary use. Connecticut residents call themselves "Nutmeggers," but no one's quite sure why. "Connman" and "Necer" are options, although both might bring negative connotations.

* One more suggestion: "Vermonter" is fine, but "Vermonster" sounds even cooler.

* Other disputes include Alabaman v. Alabamian, Arizonan v. Arizonian, Delawarean v. Delawarian, Floridan v. Floridian, Illinoisan v. Illini, Indianan v. Indianian, Louisianan v. Louisianian, Nevadan v. Nevadian and Utahan v. Utahn.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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