A brief, weird little story

On my way in to work, late last week, I drove by a sign on the side of the road. I didn’t get that long of a look at it, obviously, because I was driving and I wasn’t expecting to suddenly encounter something interesting, but it looked permanent– it wasn’t, like, attached to a light pole or something like that. Somebody had dug holes and poured concrete for this thing.

It was advertising a local business, and had the following instructions on it under the name of the business: STRAIGHT AHEAD, ON THE RIGHT.

And underneath those instructions, an arrow. Pointing to the left.

I very nearly stopped the car and turned around to get a picture of the sign, but again: driving to work, and my margins for “arrive on time” and “perilously late” are, uh, thin, on the best of days. So I resolved to get a picture of it the next day, because obviously I need to put this sign on my blog.

And the next day, the fucker was gone. I have been looking for this sign for a week, assuming that I just didn’t remember where it was or something, and it’s no longer there, and it hasn’t been replaced by anything, either, because surely I would have noticed that. And so I’m left wondering if I just imagined the damn thing, or badly misread it, or what, and I can’t confirm my own memory, and that’s really annoying.

Slightly related, at least according to how my brain works: I live in northern Indiana, maybe a 25-30 minute drive from Michigan. This area is generally known as “Michiana,”(*) and that word is pronounced like you think it is, especially once you realize that the “-ana” part comes from Indiana, a word that is generally pronounced only one way. To be obnoxiously clear about it, that penultimate A is pronounced like the penultimate A in banana or Havana or bat. And I have lived here for more or less my entire life and I have never heard anyone pronounce it incorrectly.

There is a local radio ad that I keep hearing all the Goddamned time for a used car company, and the person reading the ad repeatedly– at least a dozen times in the ad, since the word is part of the car company’s name– mispronounces “Michiana” as “Michi-onna,” like the last o sound in Pokemon. And it drives me into a killing fucking rage every time I hear it, because not only is it wrong and stupid but it offends me on a deep and fundamental level that somebody from the company that paid for this ad listened to it and went yeah, okay, that’s fine, and didn’t immediately demand that the ad be re-recorded because of the constant mispronunciation of the name of their business.

I hate it. I hate it so much.

The end.

(*) I believe I have brought this up in this space before, or at least on Twitter, but Indiana also features Kentuckiana and Illiana, although I do not know if either Indihio or Ohiana, both of which strike me as linguistic abominations, are places. Do other states do this with their border regions? I know there’s a place called Texarkana which, oh, Christ, is in something called the Ark-La-Tex region, but beyond that is it a thing? Is there a Califoregon out there, or a Pennsylvaryland? Michiconsin? Colobraska? Help me out.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

5 thoughts on “A brief, weird little story

  1. Hey, I grew up next to Texarkana. It’s partly in Texas, partly in Arkansas. The name is an amalgam of TEXas, ARKansas and LouisiANA, which doesn’t make sense because it’s closer to Oklahoma than Louisiana. Then again, I think Oklahoma was still a territory when the city was named.



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