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Rhode Islanders Will Tolerate Most Anything

Rhode Islanders Will Tolerate Most Anything
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Welcome to the June 2009 edition of “Jud’s New England Journal,” the rather curious monthly musings of Judson Hale, editor-in-chief of Yankee Magazine, published since 1935 in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Rhode Islanders Will Tolerate Most Anything

Well, most anything except inaccuracy.

Concern for accuracy — particularly historical accuracy — is a trait shared by all New Englanders, but it seems most highly developed in Rhode Islanders. Their noted tolerance in other matters (they were, for instance, the first civilized community in the world to allow freedom of religion), doesn’t extend to errors. Over the years, whenever we’ve published something containing even the most minor mistake, we hear first and most often from Rhode Islanders.

“Your December cover painting showing the church choir is nice but inaccurate. The American flag just visible on the left of the clergyman as he faces the congregation is in the wrong position. According to Public Law 829, 77th Congress, Chapter 806, second session HJRES 359, it should be instead on the right.” This from Wakefield, Rhode Island.

When we mentioned in some article that the distance from Rhode Island to New York was quite a few miles, we heard not a word from our New York subscribers. But from Rhode Island we received an avalanche of mail, each letter and postcard (this was before e-mails) pointing out to us that the two states actually border one another — out in Long Island Sound. Many gave us a seagull analogy. “A seagull might sit in the water at a certain point in Long Island Sound and have his tail feathers in New York, his beak in Rhode Island, and his left wing in Connecticut.”

In southern Massachusetts just south of Worcester is a lake we mentioned in an issue of Yankee/ as Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. A few days after that issue came out, we heard from several Rhode Island readers who told us we’d misspelled it. There should have been, they said, another “g” after our fourth “g.” We noted and corrected the error in our next issue.

In the interest of further accuracy, I’d add a linguistic observation or two for those wishing to assimilate quickly into the community that is Rhode Island. Probably needless to say now, never refer to Rhode Island Reds as communists. Rhode Islanders never did think that was particularly funny. More important, the state should be pronounced “Ruh Dilan.” If that concern seems stupid, then call it “stupit” — pronounced stoo — pit.

Of course, the Rhode Island language is a whole other story in itself.

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Rhode Islanders Will Tolerate Most Anything

Updated Monday, June 1st, 2009

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