Learning Language – Who’s Ear?

So I decided to switch things up a bit this time. Instead of teaching you something German…..I thought I would delve into my Indiana roots. I’m sure you’ve heard the word “Hoosier” thrown around (if you live in the US).

Welcome to Indiana

What is a Hoosier?

In reality it means someone from Indiana. However, if you go a bit further west, ‘hoosier’ is actually used as a derogatory term. Though this is supposedly found in St. Louis, Missouri (it is said to mean ‘white trash’ or yokel’)

But where did the word come from?

In reality, no one really knows. There are many stories told throughout my state’s history as to the origin of such an odd word.

The story I am most familiar with came from Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley who claimed that there was a fierce brawl between two French immigrants in a pub in the hills of southern Indiana. Apparently, one was cut and a third Frenchman entered the scene to find an ear on the floor, then slurred the words, “Whose ear?”

There’s another that regales the story of a contractor by the name of Samuel Hoosier from Louisville, Kentucky who preferred to hire folks from the Indiana side of the Ohio River. His men were supposed to be well known as Hoosier’s men or just Hoosiers. Indiana past Governor Evan Bayh made the claim that this was the true history of the word Hoosier. However, the US Army Corps of Engineers have yet to come up with any proof that Samuel Hoosier….or any one with the last name of Hoosier…..ever existed.

Personally, I prefer Riley’s story. It’s a lot more fun and is more fitting for a Hoosier.

Are you familiar with the word Hoosier? If so, in what capacity? Is it a insult? Does it mean Indiana folk? Or is your only connection with the word is through that Gene Hackman movie?

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