Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Out of State

The expression, "I going out of state” has always bugged me. "Out of state?" has no connection to distance or time traveled. I live in a metropolitan area of two or three states. I am not sure if Wisconsin is part of the metropolitan area. Many metropolitan areas include three states such as Washington, DC, New York, and Dubuque, IA. Detroit - Windsor is a metropolitan area spanning the US and Canada. Kansas City is in two states with only State Line Road dividing them. When traveling most highways from one state to the next only a sign tells you that you have crossed a boarder. What is the big deal about moving or travelng "out of state?"

Some states are so small that one could drive across them in less than an hour. Some are more than 700 miles in one dimension making them difficult to drive across in one day. Rhode Island is so small it could get lost in some of our national parks. Yellowstone National Park is 3472 square miles while Rhode Island is 1214 square miles and Delaware is 2490. If I start out from my house, I could drive for 30 miles and still be in the same city. If I were in Rhode Island and drove 30 miles, chances are high that I would be in another state. The official name of the state according to its constitution is: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations? Thus the smallest state in area has the longest name.

I suspect "out of state" is a Germanism. "Stadt" in German means city. The etymology of the word is from Old High German, stat or statt meaning a place or location. The Oxford English Dictionary while it acknowledges a similarity in sound between "state" and "stadt" says that the words do not share the same etymology. OED says that the all the meanings of "state" are from the old French estat which is from the Latin status. OED says that the Latin was the source of the German, Staat meaning "state" (as in political entity) In some cities such as St. Louis and Cincinnati German language had an influence on local expressions, but I don't see this as the case with "out of state." Both Cincinnati and St. Louis are bi-state metropolitan areas. Crossing the river to another state in the same metropolitan area is a daily occurrence. The metropolitan airport for Cincinnati is in Kentucky.

A search of 18th and 19th century books for the expression "out of state" yields results concerning taxation and law when person is in another state or travels. Jurisdiction is the concern, not distance. When the expression is used for differential treatment as in differential tuition "out of state" seems very appropriate. But for traveling "Out of state" is less useful than "I'm going out of town or I'm going to Cleveland."

I’m going on a little trip out of town this week – anyone want to join me in visiting Skokie?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never thought about this before, but finding out "stadt" is German for city makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing this with us!

The phrase that bothers me is when someone here in Jacksonville, Florida states, "I'm going up to Orlando this weekend." Since when is Orlando up from Jacksonville? And how did up come to mean south?