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Date Posted: 15:22:11 01/15/03 Wed
Author: Mt. Healthy Mountaineer
Subject: "Whatever it is, Hoosier sure yelps...by Dave Berry

Whatever it is, Hoosier sure yelps... by Dave Barry

Boy, am I in trouble with the Hoosiers. "Hoosiers", of course, is what people from Indiana proudly call themselves, and for an excellent reason, which I will explain shortly. Unfortunately, I managed to get a batch of Hoosiers very upset when I wrote a column about the stupidest state.

For the record, I did NOT say Indiana is the stupidest state. I believe that many states, including mine, are stupider than Indiana.

What I did say-- and I now realize that I was wrong-- was that "Hoosier" is a stupid nickname. My argument was that nobody seemed to know what a "Hoosier" is, so why would you go around calling yourself one? I stated that "Hoosier", for all we know, could be a Native American word for "has sex with caribou".

Many people wrote in to stridently object to that statement, including one Hoosier who pointed out that-- and it's hard to argue with this logic-- "Indiana has no caribou."

Many irate Indiana residents wrote to point out that I am a moron for stating that nobody knows what "Hoosier" means. According to these people, EVERYBODY in Indiana knows what "Hoosier" means, and if I had just bothered to ask a Hoosier, I could have had the simple, well-known answer, and would not have made such an idiot out of myself.

So to clear this issue up once and for all, here, according to the letters I received, is what "Hoosier" means:

"Hoosier" was the name of a contractor who worked on the Ohio River in the early 19th century.
"Hoosier" is a word meaning "highlander" or "hill-dweller".
"Hoosier" is a word referring to anything large of its kind.
"Hoosier" comes from when Indiana people would stand on the riverbank and shout to people on boats, "Who is ya?"
"Hoosier" comes from when Indiana families would hold big reunions, and the mothers, referring to the children, who would ask each other, "Who's yours?"
"Hoosier" comes from the aftermath of knife fights in Indiana taverns, when somebody would pick up a lump of flesh and say, "Whose ear?"

So from now on, when you hear people proudly refer to themselves as "Hoosiers" you will know exactly what they're referring to: an inquisitive, one-eared, hill-dwelling Ohio River contractor, large for his kind, who has a lot of trouble with pronunciation but does not have sex with caribou. Who WOULDN'T be proud!

One closing grammar note: I got several letters from people who informed me that "stupidest" and "stupider" are not real words. To those people, I say with gratitude and sincerity: Oh, shut up.

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