Missouri (see pronunciations) is a state located in the Midwestern United States.〔http://www.census.gov/const/regionmap.pdf〕 It is the 21st most extensive, and the 18th most populous of the fifty states. The state comprises 114 counties and the independent city of St. Louis.
As defined by the 2010 US census, the four largest urban areas in order of population are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia.〔List of United States urban areas〕 The mean center of the United States population at the 2010 census was in the town of Plato in Texas County.〔(Centers of Population for the 2010 Census ), U.S. Census Bureau〕
The state's capital is Jefferson City. The land that is now Missouri was acquired from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase and became known as the Missouri Territory. Part of this territory was admitted into the union as the 24th state on August 10, 1821.
Missouri's geography is highly varied. The northern part of the state lies in dissected till plains and the southern portion lies in the Ozark Mountains (a dissected plateau), with the Missouri River dividing the regions. The state lies at the intersection of the three greatest rivers of United States, with the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers near St. Louis,〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Introduction to Missouri – The Show Me State Capital Jefferson City )〕 and the confluence of the Ohio River with the Mississippi north of the Bootheel. The starting points for the Pony Express, Santa Fe Trail, and Oregon Trail were all located in Missouri as well.
==Etymology and pronunciation==
The state is named for the Missouri River, which was named after the indigenous Missouri Indians, a Siouan-language tribe. They were called the ''ouemessourita'' (''wimihsoorita''〔McCafferty, Michael. 2004. ("Correction: Etymology of Missouri" ) (restricted access), ''American Speech'', 79.1:32 〕), meaning "those who have dugout canoes", by the Miami-Illinois language speakers. As the Illini were the first natives encountered by Europeans in the region, the latter adopted the Illini name for the Missouri people.〔("Missouri" ), ''American Heritage Dictionary''〕
The name "Missouri" has several different pronunciations even among its present-day natives, the two most common one being are and .〔(Missouri - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary ). Merriam-webster.com (August 31, 2012). Retrieved 2013-07-21.〕 This situation of differing pronunciations has existed since the late-1600s. Further pronunciations also exist in Missouri or elsewhere in the United States, involving the realization of the first syllable as either or ; the medial consonant as either or ; the stressed second syllable as either or ;〔Oxford English Dictionary〕 and the third syllable as , , centralized (()), or even ∅ (in other words, a non-existent third syllable). Any combination of these phonetic realizations may be observed coming from speakers of American English.
The linguistic history was treated definitively by Donald M. Lance, who acknowledged that the question is sociologically complex, but that no pronunciation could be declared "correct," nor could any be clearly defined as native or outsider, rural or urban, southern or northern, educated or otherwise.〔http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/american_speech/v078/78.3lance.html〕 Politicians often employ multiple pronunciations, even during a single speech, to appeal to a greater number of listeners. Often, informal respellings of the state's name, such as "Missour-''ee''" or "Missour-''uh''", are used informally to phonetically distinguish pronunciations.
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