Just like the old “tu’mey-tow” vs. “tu’maa-tow” debate, Michiganders, or Michiganians (depending on which side you’re on), have long found themselves in a state of disconnect. It seems that the great divide facing residents of the Great Lake State these days centers around the demonym – the name of a resident of a specific locality – that best suits the people of Michigan. Whether you proclaim yourself a Michigander or a Michiganian may say a lot about who you are and where you come from. Is one better than the other? Can the two co-exist?
Many demonyms are derived from the inhabitants of a certain local. For instance, Germany for the Germans and France for the Franks. As in the case of the great Michigan debate, the most common technique for creating a demonym is to add a suffix to the end of the location’s name – this is called suffixation. Often modeled after Late Latin, Semitic or Germanic suffixes, these affixes can also come in irregular forms while highlighting a definitive aspect of that locale; some examples include Nutmegger for Connecticut and Bay Stater for Massachusetts.
A recent poll conducted on six-hundred Michigan residents shows that fifty-eight percent of those surveyed prefer to call themselves Michiganders while only twelve percent favor Michiganian as their choice demonym. The remaining thirty percent were fine with both, did not like either of the two, or simply did not care.
Many residents feel Michigander simply rolls off the tongue easier and that Michiganian denotes an air of pomposity unbecoming of a true Michigan dweller. We’d like to know – what’s your state’s demonym?
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