Tradition, Urban Identity, and the Baltimore “Hon' : The Folk in the City

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    • Abstract:
      Baltimoreans have garnered a reputation for greeting one another by tagging “hon” to their speech. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, this small piece of local dialect took center stage in a series of rancorous public debates over the identity associated with Baltimore culture. Each time, controversy followed leading to consequences ranging from protests and boycotts to formal legislative action. “Hon” brought into focus Baltimore's past and future by symbolizing lingering divisions of race, class, gender, and belonging in the midst of campaigns to unify and modernize the city. While some decried “hon” and “the Hon” as embarrassing, others hailed the word and the related image of a down-to-earth, blue-collar woman as emblematic of the authentic Baltimorean. This book tells the story of the battles that flared over the attempts to use “hon” to construct a citywide local tradition and their consequences for the future of local culture in the United States.
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