Folk speech

“He’s a Hoosier”

The informant describes a phrase that is specific to St. Louis, Missouri.  The informant believes he learned this word from one of his friends first, but sees the term as a way of describing a certain group of people in a derogatory way.  He also thinks of being at Six Flags in St. Louis because this is where he sees many hoosiers.  The informant found it weird that no one knew what a hoosier was when he came to California.

The informant explains that the state emblem of Indiana is the Hoosiers and the University of Indiana is called Hoosiers as well and for some reason in St. Louis a hoosier indicates hick.  When you see someone who is like a hick – people who are overweight, not very smart and farmers – you say, “Oh, they’re a hoosier.”  The word hoosier is effectively synonymous with “white trash.”

The term hoosier used in St. Louis is interesting as it shows how a term in one region is specific to the group who uses it, but different terms with the same meaning exist outside of St. Louis.  Hoosier effectively meaning “white trash” indicates that groups around the U.S. come up with different ways of categorizing this type of person – described as overweight, unintelligent, and a farmer.

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