Vol. 66 No. 1 (2018)

Understanding St. Louis’ Love for Hoosier

Published 2018-01-02


  • Restaurant names,
  • American Chinese restaurants,
  • transliterated hanzi,
  • food onomastics


While the American English demonym hoosier refers to Indiana residents, it means “poor, rural, white trash” in St. Louis, Missouri. This paper uses discourse analysis of several texts across a range of registers and formalities to explore why its use persists despite less-localized alternatives (redneck, etc.) and why it has become enregistered as a feature of the local dialect. Findings show hoosier is used to police the behavior of the target. Unlike similar slurs, its use requires knowledge of St. Louis’ social geography. Hoosier allows speakers to demonstrate localness while positioning themselves and St. Louis as cosmopolitan compared to the derided target. As such, hoosier asserts positive values for St. Louisans who use it.


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