M asked in Science & MathematicsGeography · 10 months ago

Why do people think Ohio, Indiana, Maryland and even Pennsylvania are southern?

I had someone tell me that the southern halves of IL, IN, and OH; most of MO, many parts of MD, and some parts of Western PA and Eastern KS are "southern" and that many people have southern accents there. Everyone in the group seemed to agree, even though it's totally ridiculous.

I know that the southernmost parts MO, IL, and IN are slightly southern, and maybe even the southernmost parts of OH too. I can even see the southernmost parts of MD on the eastern shore being slightly southern, as it's right next to VA....but to say that many parts of these states are southern is asinine....and PA and KS??? PA is fully northern, and KS is all Midwest! It makes me so angry when people make such ridiculous comments.

12 Answers

  • Greg
    Lv 6
    9 months ago

    Because they all border Southern states, so there's some influences from that.

  • Sharon
    Lv 6
    10 months ago

    I have a horde of relatives in Evansville, Indiana, in the southern-most part of the state, and their accents are not even remotely southern. I've been in most of Ohio, and they have a harsh Midwestern accent. Maryland is a border state. William Penn would spin in his grave hearing PA is southern

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago


  • 10 months ago

    I am afraid you need to go farther South

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  • 10 months ago

    Everything is relative. Pa is "southern" in speech/accent and dialect compared to my New England upbringing, but it is scarcely what I would call "southern". Maryland is part of the "south" if you use the Mason-Dixon line and Ohio River definition of the pre-Civil War era.

    I think the idea here would be that the proximal areas of the "Not south" (as per mason-dixon line) have interacted with the other side of the line (Ohio River or Md border) to attain a bit if southernish character, but I would never call it truly south.

  • John P
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    Presumably because they are American. If you look at questions and answers from Americans, it seems that many of them have very little idea of where in the world, or even in their own country, they are.

  • Andrew
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    There's nothing even remotely ridiculous about the statement in whatsoever, though to be fair, the claim is certainly stronger for certain states than it is for others.

    The terms "Northern" and "Southern" are not strictly geographical ones when employed by Americans in that context. While "the North" and "the South" have no set geographical boundaries in the US, one accepted delineation between them would be the Mason-Dixon line, and the greatest portion of the line straddles the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

    Pennsylvania is a fairly large state by the standards of the Northeastern United States. Only New York State occupies a larger tract of land in the region. Pennsylvania is about 280 miles from east to west and about 160 miles north to south. From the Delaware Water Gap and the Poconos Mountains in the northeastern portion of the state, to the southeastern portion where Philadelphia is located, there's a lot of variety to be found. The small hamlets in the hills in Pike County don't look anything like the cornfields and affluent suburbs of Bucks County.

    Many of the people who live in northeastern Pennsylvania have close ties with New Jersey and New York, either because they moved to Pennsylvania from one of those places or because they commute to one of those places for work, thus the accent and the culture between that portion of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas of the Northeast itself are very similar.

    Pennsylvania is also a Great Lakes state as its northwestern corner touches lake Erie. Western Pennsylvania has a lot in common with eastern Ohio. Traditionally, Pittsburgh and the surrounding area was very industrial, it was all steel mills, and Pittsburgh is only an hour from Youngstown, OH and 2 hours from Cleveland, as opposed to a 5 hour drive to Philadelphia. It only stands to reason that people from the western portion of the state would have more in common with Midwesterners than they would with people from Eastern Pennsylvania.

    There aren't many cities along Pennsylvania's southern line. It's a fairly rural area, so many of the people who live there are accustomed to heading into the neighbouring states fairly often. The accent and the culture haven't been determined by an arbitrary line drawn up 250 years ago, and it's not as though people from Pennsylvania go out of their way to be different from the people on the other side of the line in Maryland.

    People from a small town on the Pennsylvania side of the border with Maryland would likely sound a lot more similar to a Marylander than they would to somebody from Philly or Pittsburgh.

    The same is true of Ohio. It's a Midwestern state, but the southern portion is nothing like the northern portion. Other than Cincinnati in the west, there are no sizable towns in southern Ohio to speak of at all. The southeastern portion of the state is extremely rural and the least populous region of the state. The people living there don't see themselves as a breed apart from their neighbours in West Virginia. If anything, they feel detached from the people of the urbanised northeastern section of their own state.

    There isn't much in southern Indiana either. Louisville is by far the biggest city along the Ohio River as it passes along to mark the border between Indiana and Kentucky, and so it's an important place not just for Kentuckians but for people from Indiana too. The people on either side of the river have a very similar culture and accent, and somebody from north of Louisville would have a lot more in common with someone from Kentucky than he would from somebody from Gary.

    The population of Missouri is more than double that of Kansas. And Missouri has a sizable metro area on either side of the state. St. Louis and Kansas City, MO are both considerably larger than the largest city in Kansas, Wichita, which is located towards the central part of the state. Obviously, there are many more people in the eastern section of Kansas than there are in other parts of the state, so they tend to have a lot of interaction with people from Missouri. Then again, Missouri isn't a small state, so there are wide variations between the people living in the different portions of the state just as you would find anyplace else.

    "Northern" and "Southern" can be used to describe generalities in the way a person speaks and behaves and can be applied to paint a general picture of a person's character. "Generally", people from southern Pennsylvania sound more Southern, are more politically conservative and tend to be more religious than people from Northeastern, Southeastern, or Western Pennsylvania. "Generally", people from southern Ohio sound more "Southern" than people from Cleveland or Toledo, and live in an environment that bears far more similarity to the Appalachian region of the South than it does to the Great Lakes Midwestern region up north. "Generally", people from southern Indiana have more in common and are more indistinguishable from Kentuckians than from people of northern Indiana. And "generally" people from eastern Kansas have more in common with people from Missouri than they do with people from Western Kansas, but not in all cases and to varying extents.

    Western Maryland is far more "Southern" in character than the suburbs of Washington, D.C. or the Baltimore metro area, but again, these are generalities rather than rules.

  • 10 months ago

    All of Maryland is south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so all of Maryland is in "Dixie."

    The other states you mention are indeed not "southern."

  • 10 months ago

    "Southern" culture doesn't quite stick to state borders, you know?

    But those parts of the states you list are more "country" than "southern." It's mostly people who've never spent much time in the actual South that would confuse them.

    But of the states in your question, none were actually part of the Confederacy. So if that's your definition then you are correct, and that person is wrong.

  • 10 months ago

    Southern MO residents act like they're an extension of Arkansas. Pretty southern culture. Eastern KS residents don't have a 'southern' accent or other type of 'southern' culture. It's like the rest of Kansas with a Midwestern culture, much like Texas and Oklahoma.

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