Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

“Missouree Was Always Out of Step with Missourah”: Sociolinguistic Variants as Moral Toponyms

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Daniel Duncan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Language users can create moral geographies, in which values are mapped in space, by indexically linking values and spatial referents. One understudied aspect of linguistic practice in this domain is the role of toponyms in constructing a moral geography. This paper illustrates how sociolinguistic variants of a toponym can be used to construct a moral geography. I take as a case study sociolinguistic variation in Missouri, in which the state name can be produced as Missouree or Missourah. Qualitative analysis of a set of local newspaper columns shows these variants can be used as place names. However, they do not distinguish regions of physical space. Rather, the variants label moral spaces by setting each variant on opposing ends of cultural, geographic, and political axes of contrast. Because their primary role is to label moral space, I suggest that toponymic studies should consider the kind of geography that a toponym labels space within. I consider the usage here to be examples of moral toponyms, in contrast to traditional toponyms which label physical space.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Duncan D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Names: A Journal of Onomastics

Year: 2022

Volume: 70

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 22/08/2022

Acceptance date: 21/06/2022

Date deposited: 21/06/2022

ISSN (print): 0027-7738

ISSN (electronic): 1756-2279

Publisher: University Library System, University of Pittsburgh


DOI: 10.5195/names.2022.2383


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric