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Name change?

December 17, 2012
The Mining Journal

To the Journal editor:

The inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula are a good people, pleasant in manner, hard working and generous to a fault. Regrettably, they are saddled with a name that does them an injustice. That name is Yooper.

Words are judged by their sounds as well as by their meanings. Yooper is a pedestrian word without a hint of class or inspiration. Admittedly, Yooper has its uses in the scheme of things. It is a perfect fit-for house pets and circus clowns. But as a moniker for a proud people, Yooper misses the mark, even drawing snickers from downstaters.

More is at stake here than an inferior word. Normally, a close connection exists between a population and its location. For example, Detroiters are from Detroit and Michiganders from Michigan. Where are Yoopers from? Timbuktu? Brigadoon?

Thus the Yooper term fails to convey a sense of identity and place. It is, in effect, a code word, for its meaning cannot be deciphered by dint of the word itself Outsiders may be forgiven if the meaning of Yooper eludes them, unaware that the word springs from a vocalization of the U.P. initials.

As argued, the denizens of Upper Michigan deserve a new name, one that matches their character. An apt candidate is Superiorlander, a title that meets several criterial.

First, it draws inspiration from Lake Superior, the area's dominant geographical feature, thereby establishing a direct link between people and place.

Second, it has tradition on its side, for Superiorland is a recognized place name for Upper Michigan.

Third, Superiorlander, as a proper noun, has clarity written into it. Outsiders will immediately grasp its meaning.

Finally, and not least, Superiorlander is a stately, elegant word that has a nice ring to it.

Citizens, let's deyooperize for a superior reason.

Roger Magnuson




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