Here’s a mouthful: Hoosers excel at linguistic gymastics

“What about this one?” asked Mary Ellen, as she flashed a thin paperback volume in front of my face. “Can we chuck it?”

At the time, we were trying to decide which books in our basement we’d donate to the library and which ones to simply discard. Some decisions are easy.

You can’t throw away an old copy of Moby Dick or a novel by John Grisham, but Computers for Dummies (2002) doesn’t have much prospect for a future readership, and keeping it would only perpetuate someone’s quotient of nerdiness.

When I took the paperback from Mary Ellen and flipped through it, a CD slid out from inside the covers and onto the floor. The book was titled, “Why Hoosiers Can’t Pronounce ‘Indianapolis.'” I skimmed through it and recalled interviewing the author, Dr. John Terhune, on my TV segment about 15 years ago. John is a local chiropractor who spent part of his life boning up on how people, specifically Hoosiers, talk.

“I simply listened to friends, patients and people in the media,” John explained when we met again for breakfast this past week.

John’s contention is that Hoosiers have created and speak a “new global language.” He quotes Thomas Jefferson, who said, “The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do.”

In his book, John gives countless examples of how Hoosiers efficiently combine words into nifty little linguistic packages. “People in other states also run words together occasionally,” John says, “but Hoosiers are way bedderdnat.” (better than that). Hoosiers also reduce the number of syllables in a word, which gives them mordnenuf (more than enough) time to watch baskaball (basketball).

If you are innersted (interested), you can listen to the accompanying CD that provides hunnerds (hundreds) of additional samples of Hoosiers doing the talk.

But the most fun is John’s artful analysis of the linguistic variety of ways our city’s name as pronounced by local media personalities. Listed below are more than a dozen examples that John has collected over the years.

ANNAPLUS (Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor)

ANYANAPPLES (Dan Quayle, former VP)

ANYNAPLUS (Goldsmith, again)

ENGINEAPLUS (Anyone from Speedway)

INDANAPLUS (Dick Crum, Dr. Dirt)

INIANAPLUS (Bart Peterson, former Inianaplus mayor)

INDINAPLUS (Paul Helmke, former Fort Wayne, mayor)

INDYPLUS (Angela Buchman, WTHR)

ININAPLUS (Bill Benner, former Star reporter)

INNAPLUS (Dave “The King” Wilson and Bobby “Slick” Leonard)

INNYNAPLUS (Tom Griswold of Bob and Tom)

INYUNAPLUS (Pam Elliot, former WISH-TV anchor)

NNAPLUS (Ray Compton, formerly with the Nnaplus Colts)

My wife thought folks would really like reading John’s book and suggested we donate it to the libary (library), but, she decided to keep it as a valuable reference source instead. “I was just thinking that,” I told her. Of course, what I really said was: auzhusinkinat!