Here’s a problem that Berkeleyside wrestles with frequently. Should we refer to residents of Berkeley as Berkeleyites or Berkeleyans?

To my ear, Berkeleyites sounds better. It gets 25,000 results on Google. Someone has entered it into the City Dictionary. Berkeleyan, on the other hand, gets 110,000 Google hits. Looks like a done deal, doesn’t it? But hang on. A lot of those Berkeleyan hits are because it’s the accepted adjective for things relating to Bishop Berkeley (photo left) or his system of philosophical idealism.

Tell us readers. What do you think? Of course, we could cut the Gordian knot and just agree to call everyone Berkeleysiders.

Photo by Harry Harris from Flickr

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. Then there’s the issue of the correct pronunciation of “Berkeley”. Since it’s specifically named for the aforementioned George Berkeley, the pronunciation should be “barkly”. It figures that the source of just about every terrible idea in modern American life is peopled by wannabe intellectuals who can’t pronounce the name of their lunatic asylum of a town.

  2. I came here looking to ascertain proper spelling(s) on the Berkeley denizen question only to realize the diversity of the rainbow spectrum it hosts from the hills to the shore, rich and poor, agitated and quiescent; smart for the most part. I remember the big division as Northside and Southside of campus as a Cal Bear Berkeley resident for six years of double major undergraduate education.

  3. The feminine is Berkeleyisto. Actually, I’m sure it was one of the great Spanish teachers of the Berkeley schools who taught me that -ista is both masculine and feminine. I just wrote someone originally from Palo Alto that I am a Berkeleyan in exile, looked it up and found this page and I’m sticking to it. George Berkeley was just a guy ahead of his time saying it’s all in the mind, y’know (being of sound mind you), and I grew up listening to the Beatles in my near-hippie dad’s LP collection, eventually next door to Lee Trampleasure (hi!), so Berkeleyan works for me. As a poet who was babysat by Evelyn Einstein I’d like to think of us as among time’s noblest offspring. There’s a Daily Planet across the street from where I’m sitting in Seattle, inhabitants of which are called Seattleites; it must be a satellite of the Berkeley paper. Never heard or saw Berkeleyite except here and in that book. Perish the thought! Don’t even think of it!

  4. I second the nomination for “Neo-Hippy Weirdo.”

    On second thought: I prefer “Neo-Weirdy Hippo.”

  5. Dear Lance,
    Thanks for the feedback, you’re right: to clarify, the suave, debonair, etc. was in reference to persons living in Berkeley. The reference regarding Lancaster and York was to the Red and the White Rose cities in central Pennsylvania….sorry for the geo confusion.

    “not sure where you get Yorkian, jpasn. The people of York are called Ebors, from the Roman name of the town, Eboracum. People from New York are, of course, called New Yorkers.

    And it’s Lancastrian. Without getting too huffy about the north of England (where my wife was born), I’m not sure too many people associate York or Lancaster with suave, debonair and sophisticated.”

  6. Susie, I think you’re on the right track. Berkeleyans call ourselves Berkeleyans (I’m third generation, grandma was an ’06 earthquake refugee). If anyone is using Berkeleyite, it’s definitely creeping in from elsewhere. Kind of like “The 880” instead of The Nimitz–but that’s a whole other argument 🙂

  7. Berkeleyan–without question.

    My family has lived in Berkeley continuously since at least 1891. If you add up my years of living in Berkeley and those of my great grandparents, grandparents, parents, spouse and children, they total more than 525 years!

    I was born here, went through the Berkeley Schools, graduated from Cal, taught in the Berkeley Schools, have volunteered in the Berkeley Schools and in the community, and have attended numerous City Council, School Board and Commission meetings. I have NEVER heard the word Berkeleyite.

    My husband worked in downtown Berkeley for more than 20 years and has been heavily involved in the community and in community organizations since 1981. He thinks he might have heard Berkeleyite once or twice. Berkeley people call themselves Berkeleyans, he says.

    One of our sons says he has heard Berkeleyite, also. But it was used by people who were not Berkeleyans to refer to people who live in Berkeley.

    I wonder if checking the google hits for Berkeleyite might show it to be a term primarily used by people who do not live in Berkeley?

    Does Berkeleyite sound better? I was part of a group called Berkeleyans for Academic Excellence. Berkeleyites for Academic Excellence just doesn’t have the same ring.

  8. Add one to the “Berkeleyan” column. I prefer the accent on the “Berk” of “Berkeleyan” rather than on the “ite” of “Berkeleyite.”

  9. Not sure where you get Yorkian, jpasn. The people of York are called Ebors, from the Roman name of the town, Eboracum. People from New York are, of course, called New Yorkers.

    And it’s Lancastrian. Without getting too huffy about the north of England (where my wife was born), I’m not sure too many people associate York or Lancaster with suave, debonair and sophisticated.

  10. “Berkeleyan” as in Churchillian,Brazilian, Yorkian, Bostonian,Lancasterian, you get the picture…suave, debonair and sophisticated with a world view that transcends and encompasses opposites in the same moment. Anything but mundane.

  11. I’m for Berkeleyeans. Note the extra e, which places the stress on the second syllable “key.” I’ve heard it pronounced like it was just “Berkeley” with “ans” appended to the end, and it never sounds quite right. Ber-KEY-lee-ans sounds right to my ear.

    Like Berkeleyium, which reminds me of Einsteinium and Californium, elements which at least had a few micro-seconds in the sun (figuritively and literally) when they were discovered by famous Berkeleyean E.O. Lawrence, who lived on the same street where neighbors are protesting the new K-mart at 2707 Rose St. (which would be visible from his old house). But I digress.

    Berkeley was not named for the philosophy or the preaching of the good Bishop, it was named for the last line of his poem “Verses on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America,” by a gaggle of college lads watching a couple of ships sail out through the golden gate, no doubt over a bottle of some form of ethyl alcohol.

    At least that’s the story on Founder’s Rock, and if you can’t believe a rock at Cal, what is there left to believe in?

    Today’s poem, here in poetry corner, is “Verses on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America” by George Berkeley:

    The Muse, disgusted at an age and clime
    Barren of every glorious theme,
    In distant lands now waits a better time,
    Producing subjects worthy fame:

    In happy climes, where from the genial sun
    And virgin earth such scenes ensue,
    The force of art by nature seems outdone,
    And fancied beauties by the true:

    In happy climes, the seat of innocence,
    Where nature guides and virtue rules,
    Where men shall not impose for truth and sense
    The pedantry of courts and schools:

    There shall be sung another golder age,
    The rise of empire and of arts,
    The good and great inspiring epic rage,
    The wisest heads and noblest hearts.

    Not such as Europe breeds in her decay;
    Such as she bred when fresh and young,
    When heavenly flame did animate her clay,
    By future poets shall be sung.

    Westward the course of empire takes its way;
    The four first Acts already past,
    A fifth shall close the Drama with the day;
    Time’s noblest offspring is the last.

    George Berkeley

    I think we’re well past the fifth act by now, and a little further west than Berkeley himself anticipated, but you sure get the hope for the future that the name Berkeley might have inspired for Frederick Billings and his friends at Founder’s Rock.

  12. I rather agree with Jonah, recalling the UCB newsletter titled “the Berkeleyan” which included a calendar of campus events and opportunities which truly enriched our lives. The best of town and gown.

  13. I say the City Council needs to take this up. And while we’re at it, let’s have the School Board, ZAB, and Peace and Justice Commission take it up too!

  14. Let’s not ignore “Berzerkleyan,” 5380 hits –less likely to be confused with the bishop and always a good alternative.

  15. The other “issue” with Bishop Berkeley is that his names was (or should be) pronounced like the former basketball player, Charles Barkley:

    George Berkeley (pronounced /ˈbɑrkli/)

    Therefore, it seems to me, a phoentic transcription of a Berkeleyan would would like a “Barkeleyan”. Since Charles Barkley is a far better known contemporary figure and since Berkeley (I am guessing) has one of the highest per capita dog ownership rates, it seems “Bark-” is an apt prefix to describe its denizens.

  16. Berkeleyite sounds like someone who advocates for and/or follows the doings of Berkeley. Berkeleyan makes more sense to me. My mom always refers to herself as a Berkeleyan.

  17. And for any concerned parent, I suppose I should mention Leconte Elementary is NOT burning down. The fire appears to be slightly southwest of Leconte (on the other side of the street).

  18. MH: from the Wikipedia article on Bishop Berkeley:

    “Berkeley stated that individuals cannot think or talk about an object’s being, but rather think or talk about an object’s being perceived by someone. That is, individuals cannot know any ‘real’ object or matter ‘behin'” the object as they perceive it, which ’causes’ their perceptions. He thus concluded that all that individuals know about an object is their perception of it.”

    It makes “Berkeley” seem very Berkeleyan, in the philosophical sense.

  19. Since Berkeley was named after Bishop Berkeley… then Berkeley (the town) would be, by that rationale, Berkeleyan (a word which not uninterestingly triggers a spell-check warning)