I just came across this word in a book I’m reading, referring to a guy from Iowa. I wonder if the author made it up or if it is the usual word for inhabitants of that state. It made me think of some British equivalents, and I began to see that the knowledge of some of the names we give to those who live in certain cities or areas would be a good test of a person’s grasp of British English. Here are a few.
I am from Edinburgh and so I am an Edinburger, but if I were from Glasgow I would be a Glaswegian. Someone from Manchester is a Mancunian, one from Liverpool a Liverpudlian. Returning to Scotland, if you are from Aberdeen you are an Aberdonian, if from Inverness an Invernesian, from Dundee a Dundonian.
These are all perfectly respectable words used by all and sundry, not as nicknames. But there are others, which only a person from a certain region would use and understand. I’m sure this is true of almost all areas, but the only one on which I could pass a test is my own original home, the Scottish Borders. Now we leave what are just odd endings to the original town name, and enter another world. Here are a few examples.
I was born in Hawick, and so I am a Teri (pronounced teery). An inhabitant of Selkirk is a Souter (pronounced: sooter); one from Galashiels is a Braw Lad (or Lass). This male/female name reminds me of one of the most hilarious of them all which comes from Linlithgow, where the inhabitants, male and female, proudly call themselves Black Bitches! This comes from the town’s coat of arms which features a black greyhound bitch against an oak tree (If you want to know why, you’ll have to google Linlithgow – it is a lovely story) and the local pub is called the Black Bitch.
But pub names are a wonderful topic, needing a study of their own. My favourite is the Salutation in Perth, which almost no one these days will know comes from the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady and reveals the hotel’s pre-Reformation origin. Just as the Dykes Bar in Liberton, an Edinburgh suburb, reveals its naming in a more innocent age!
“We’re not in Kansas now” or Iowa for that matter.