Does anyone like the term “Washingtonian”?
& # xD;
By Morf Morford firstname.lastname@example.org • 4 August 2022 1:30
By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
A demonym is a word that describes the citizens of a specific place, in most cases a derivative or an extension of the name of that city or state.
It comes from the Greek word “demo” or “demos” for people and “nym” for name.
Our current governor seems to use the term “Washingtonian” to regularly describe the residents of our state.
I don’t remember any previous governor – or anyone, actually – using that term before.
Some states have a nickname that emerges naturally and flows when used.
The terms “Texan”, “New Yorker” and “Alaskan” flow easily, while labels like “Connecticuter”, “Massachusettsan”, “Wyomingite” and “New Hampshirite” clearly don’t.
These are the official demonyms recommended by the United States Government Editorial Office.
You would think there would be some kind of system for something as simple as how we define ourselves and our regional origins and identities.
It is not always easy to guess the demonym of certain places. Some are easy and obvious, but some are, to put it simply, just plain embarrassing.
You might think you could just add -an or an -ite or even an -er to the place name to get a demonym, but that’s not always the case, especially with the names of many of our states, cities and counties.
For whatever reason, several New England states use -er – as in the New Yorker, Vermonter, and even Mainer, many Mid-West states use -an (Coloradan, Iowan, Texan, and many others).
Some states add only one letter to describe its residents: Nevada (Nevadan), Iowa (Iowan) and Utah (Utahn) and a few others.
Most states expand the original state name with their own demonym – only two states do not – Kansas (Kansan) and Texas (Texan).
A state completely abandons the state name to describe its residents: Indiana. The term “Hoosier” is used to describe Indiana residents. After all, what term could they use? Indians? Indianites?
Residents of Washington, DC have been using the term “Washingtonian” for decades.
It was even the name of a popular regional magazine.
From time to time there are rumors that Washington DC is becoming a state. To put it simply, it would be complicated.
But a fundamental question arises; what would those residents be called?
Some locals (I’ve heard) use the term DC-ites.
But most of them are used to using the term “Washingtonian” and are attached to us, at least more than we (the residents of Washington state) appear to be.
Maybe it’s just me, but the term “Washingtonian” seems to sum up everything that our state is not; elongated, pretentious and, above all, not very descriptive – or poetic.
We, the residents of Washington state, need a name that fits us, dynamic and unique like rivers, mountains, glaciers and, yes, rain, flowing and, in the present and for millennia, has truly defined our region.
Geologically and geographically, we in the upper left corner of the United States map, with a northern border facing Canada and our western edge facing the Pacific Ocean, have, at least somehow, more in common with the Canada or the open ocean than with the rest of our country.
All it takes is the closure of some mountain passes and a problem on the I-5 heading south, or perhaps a long overdue volcano, earthquake or tsunami, and we are, except for air traffic (which lately hasn’t was very stable), cut off from the rest of the country indefinitely.
We have weather conditions, geological features and features that few other states have.
For example, we have the largest state-owned ferry system of any other state in the United States.
We also have more than our share of volcanoes.
And few states, aside from Alaska, have more wilderness than we do.
About a third of our state is national forest, essentially cutting our state into two separate ecosystems.
In addition to major cities (and over 70 ports, you can see them here: www.washingtonports.org/ourports-directory) we have important agricultural areas. A state senator told me several years ago that we produce enough food within the borders of our state to feed the rest of the country.
But even with all of that, we don’t need a long and complicated name to describe ourselves. We need a name that summarizes, reflects and, in a word or two, captures the essence of who we are and where we are going.
Birthplace of Boeing and home to Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft, with snowy vistas in the distance from almost everywhere, we need a name that suits us.
We are, strangely, the only state that bears the name of a president of the United States.
I am not at all convinced that the term “Washingtonian” is a great honor for our first president.
It looks awkward and forced. It is also artificial. In short, nothing like our state or the president it claims to honor.