Michigander, Michiganian, let’s call the whole thing off
Here’s a debate as heated as today’s weather in Michigan: Is “Michiganian” or “Michigander” the preferred term?
Notice I didn’t say “correct” term or even “proper.” There isn’t one. I once asked my boss who is a former Detroit News reporter, and he claimed the paper settled the debate years ago. (I believe he said “Michiganian” won but I imagine the study was largely unscientific.) Anyway, the good folks at PureMichigan, the state’s official travel and tourism site, rekindled the discussion earlier today on Twitter:
@PureMichigan Ok, #PureMichigan, we have a serious question for you: Michigander or Michiganian? Which one do you use?
My reply led to another reply. Lunch being particularly bland today, I decided to dig in. Unable to pinpoint the boss’ reference anywhere online, I unearthed the following:
The web site of the Michigan Historical Center uses Michiganian. Michiganian has a long history. It is the term used for the state’s citizens in The Collections of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society since the 1870s. But people who call Michigan their home use the word they like best. There is no “official” term.
– “Michiganian or Michigander?” Michigan FAQ, michigan.gov
Michiganian and Michigander are demonyms for residents of the U.S. state of Michigan. But people who call Michigan their home use the word they like best. There is no “official” term. Less common alternatives include Michiganer, Michiganite, Michiganese, and Michigine. Residents in the Upper Peninsula more typically refer to themselves as Yoopers instead.
– “Michigander.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org
The correct term, as readers of the Free Press all know, is “Michigander.” But many distinguished, if misguided, speakers and publications use the less euphonic “Michiganian.” (Former Freepster Hugh McDiarmid Jr. has an excellent analysis of the dispute in the current issue of the Michigan Environmental Council newsletter at www.mecprotects.org/MERspring2008.pdf.)
There is a group that calls itself Michiganders for Obama. But perhaps the candidate was trying to reconcile bitter partisans on each side of the long-running Michigander/Michiganian divide.
– “Michi- what? Obama mingles in Michigan.” Detroit Free Press, freep.com
“I stand corrected, because I double-checked. Michigander is the noun; Michiganian the adjective.”
– Daniel Howes, “We here in Michigan are not ‘ganians, but ‘ganders.” Detroit News, detnews.com
Clearly, nobody knows but everybody cares, especially when you weigh all the blogs and forums on the matter. As for my preference? Well, I’m from Ohio (Cleveland, really — big difference). So as the debate stirs on, I bring you this funny quip from my lunchtime research: “What’s good for the Michiganian is good for the Michigander.”