What's in a name anyway?
Published: Sunday, August 22nd, 2004
I was reading in a newspaper the other day that the state of North Dakota was thinking about changing its name. Really! In fact, it has even been brought to the floor of the North Dakota state legislature and they have been discussing it. Their argument is that the reason no one goes to North Dakota for tourism is because the name puts them off. It is true that the state does have the fewest tourists of any state in the United States, but I question if all of that is because of the name North Dakota. History tells us that when the Vikings (the people not the football team) named a big hunk of ice and cold, cold weather “Greenland”, it didn’t make it any warmer or more pleasant and I don’t imagine it made tourism figures that fantastic either. Imagine the discussion: “Ethel, it’s nothing but ice and rocks.” “But Eric it says right here in the brochure that its name is Greenland.” “The only thing that is any different color is our daughter - she just turned blue.” “Well, it could just be a cold snap. We probably just hit it on a bad day. I’m sure it will be much warmer tomorrow.” “Ethel, It’s mid August. Nope, let’s keep going. I heard there’s some nice weather down south of Newfoundland. Just don’t be sending any directions to your Italian cousin. You know he’ll want to come visit. and then ‘there goes the neighborhood.’” Anyway, what name are they going to change it to? North Florida? North Arizona? I don’t think so. And with the Truth-in-Advertising laws these days the feds could get upset about a name change like that or one that called themselves something to the effect “North Warmplace” or “Tropical Dakota.” Nope, if they were going to change their name and stay with Truth in Advertising, it would have to be something like “Really Cold Place” or “Frostbite.” Now I brought this whole thing up with North Dakota because we have an identity problem too. I mean all of us know someone that lives outside the state who thinks we live outside the U.S. Granted, in my case my relatives just wish I lived out of the country. A couple have even gone so far as to take up collections to send me to such vacation spots as Afghanistan and Iraq. The old joke went, “If it’s not New and not Mexico, why do we call it New Mexico?” Maybe North Dakota has the right idea. Maybe we should look at new names for the state. Personally I like the name “Hawaii” but my wife tells me that name is taken. I really have to get out of the house more. They keep slipping these things in when I’m not watching. I have a friend who lives in Lordsburg that suggested an appropriate name might be “Sand”, but another guy living near Ruiduso thought “Treeland” would be good. Using logic like that I would be willing to bet that people in Albuquerque would suggest renaming us “Orange Cone” for the omnipresent traffic control device in Albuquerque (It is on the city seal isn’t it?). I thought about just going with “Enchantment” but that sounds too much like an illegal drug like Ecstasy or Bute. Nope, I guess we’re going to have to stay with the old name after all, although I hear that the name North Dakota might be available. Wait, wait, I think I’ve figured it out. With all the rain we’ve had recently, we can call ourselves “Greenland.” Or has somebody else got that one.
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