Poll: Missour-ee or Missour-uh?
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Missouri Day is coming up this Wednesday, and a poll by Saint Louis University and YouGov asked one of the long-lasting questions in the Show Me State.
In 2023, a poll conducted by SLU and YouGov interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters, asking how they pronounced the name of the state. The poll found that only 9.5 percent of Missourians say they live in Missour-uh. More than 90 percent of those polled say they live in Missour-ee.
“After growing up in Missouri, I was surprised so few Missouri voters used the Missour-uh pronunciation,” said Steven Rogers, Ph.D., SLU/YouGov Poll Director and associate professor of political science at SLU. “Using Missour-uh appears to be partly generational. Sixteen percent of voters who are 65 years old or older said Missour-uh, but only 3 percent of voters below the age of 29 said Missour-uh.”
Fifteen percent of voters in Northwest Missouri indicated they used the Missour-uh pronunciation, but only 6 percent of St. Louis voters said Missour-uh.
Differences between how men and women, urban and rural voters, gun owners, or Democrats and Republicans said the state’s name, however, fell within the margin of error.
“Variation is ingrained in all languages, and there is nothing inherently ‘better’ about one way of pronouncing something over another,” said Christina Garcia, Ph.D., an associate professor of Spanish in Saint Louis University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “However, society creates associations between different forms of speaking and social characteristics, both positive and negative. Since Missour-ee carries prestige in this case, it is likely that Missourians may be under-reporting their use of Missour-uh.”
“These subtle differences are what make each dialect unique, and it is our job as linguists to highlight and celebrate them,” said Garcia.
Poll results and cross tabs are available here.
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