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State of the Art

Posted by Lewis on February 09, 2004

In Reply to: State of Confusion posted by Lotg on February 07, 2004

: : : : "Show Me State", "Granite State" etc. are used a lot in TV weather reports and at primary election time and numerous other times and places. There must be 50 of them and they are all a little bit annoying.

: : : : This nicknaming must have started early. Where? And Why?

: : : I guess you could start your quest at the link below.

: : It's likely that state nicknames have taken a variety of paths from casual reference to official recognition, but a large factor is the desire of state legislatures to provide slogans, state nicknames, state birds, state flowers, state songs and the like so that the members may make speeches, and perhaps honor friends and constituents as well. I think my favorite state nickname is "The Sooner State" (v. Oklahoma in the link above), explained facetiously by some wag as meaning "I'd sooner be somewhere else." SS

: I don't know about the U.S., but I don't remember seeing much of this before the 1980s. And as we tend to copy stuff like that from the US, and we do it fairly quickly, I'd imagine that would only be shortly after it started there. Whether it started there, I have no idea, cos we copy European and English ideas too. Hell, we even have a few of our own. Maybe WE started it. Who knows.

: There is presumably supposed to be a marketing benefit in doing this. And sometimes I think they're right. But sometimes, it's just downright laughable. Sometimes it seems to me to be a job creation scheme. ie. There must be people whose jobs are solely to make up stupid names. This also applies to paint colours and a variety of other things.

: Our nicknames are not confined to states. They do it in certain regions too, particularly the tourist regions.

: Here in the Blue Mtns (a tourist area), each town has a nickname. Some of them sound rather corny, especially if you don't know their history, which as a rule, tourists don't. eg. One town called Bullaburra, has a sign saying it's the "Blue Sky Village". Firstly, there is no village, just a bunch of houses and a train station. Secondly Bullaburra shares the same sky as the rest of the Mountains. However, apparently Bullaburra is an aboriginal word for "Blue Sky", so there is some logic. Another town, Wentworth Falls, has the nickname "Explorers Village". Again seems completely stupid as every town in the Mountains was a stopping point for one reason or another for the explorers. However, there was supposed to have been a famous Weatherboard Hut where they stopped at and the town was originally called Weatherboard. But again, the average tourist wouldn't know that. So I wonder about their effectiveness from a marketing point of view. The list goes on...

: But some that do work, marketing-wise, would include "the Sunshine State". All Australians know that's Queensland, and everyone identifies with it. It does after all paint the very real and positive picture. They also have a saying that goes with the state "Beautiful one day, perfect the next". Who wouldn't want to go to Queensland on hearing stuff like that?

: The other states tend to be a bit lame. eg. Victoria is "the Garden State". Well whoopee, wouldn't that just make you hang out to go there... Given Victoria is the gourmet & arts capital of Australia, I would have thought it more appropriate they aim their marketing in that direction. Although, South Australia has claimed the Arts title. So confusing.

: I live in New South Wales and I can't even remember the nickname for our state. We've got a Waratah on our number plates and lots of other things, so maybe it's that. Or maybe it's just "State of Confusion", I don't know. So that's been effective marketing as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not sure how long ago it started but some counties of England have had nicknames for many years - Kent for example is most famous as "The Garden of England" and traditionally justified it by being a large agricultural area near to London.
Surrey in particular is called "The Stockbroker Belt" as it has towns near enough to London to commute from. I think Warwickshire being "Shakespeare country" is fairly modern, but some counties (like Kent) do have traditional nick-names.

In quizzes, state nick-names and capitals are a source of irritation because the state capital is usually much less famous than some other city and the nicknames seem to multiply. I can remember Texas being the 'Lone Star State' but as for North Carolina, Dakota or Arkansas - well, no chance. and how many "Sunshine state"s are there?
(I've heard Florida & California).