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Why's Lancaster pronounced as 'Lang-kiss-ter'? Are helmets required for motorcyclists? [We the People]

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LancasterOnline is answering your questions through We the People, a public-powered journalism project. You ask, you vote and our reporters find the answers.

Here are a few answers to questions that had not yet made it to the voting round.

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Why is our Lancaster pronounced differently than the other Lancasters in the USA?

You know whether someone's from out of town by the way they say "Lancaster." 

It's one of those unspoken rules: you just don't say 'LAN-caster,' if you're from the area. It's 'Lang-kiss-ter.'

While this area is known for its Dutch/German influence, people from several European countries settled here in the early days of the country.

According to a LancasterHistory genealogist named Kevin Shue, some of the first settlers were German, Swiss, English and Ulster-Scots.

Though there is no definitive reason as to why we say Lancaster like we do, one speculation is that the English could have influenced our pronunciation.

One town in England is called Lancashire; if you listen to it, it sounds very similar in inflection to how we say it here.

Some say that the pronunciation has a Pennsylvania Dutch spin, though evidence other than "that's just the way we say things around here" has not been made.

Question submitted by Deborah M.


Why does Pennsylvania have no helmet laws for motorcyclists, but it has a seatbelt law?

Motorcycle rider

A motorcyclist rides through Lancaster County Central Park Wednesday. Doctors say wearing a helmet is important to your safety.

There is a helmet law in Pennsylvania, but it has a few stipulations.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, people must wear helmets while riding motorcycles if:

- They are younger than 21 years old

- They have less than two years of riding experience, OR

- They haven't completed a motorcycle course

Nineteen states have universal helmet laws, which require all riders to wear a helmet if they are operating a motorcycle.

Pennsylvania had a helmet law that was repealed in 2003. Those who advocated for free-choice regarding helmets were motorcyclists whose slogan was "Let those who ride decide," according to PennLive.

You can find more information about individual helmet laws at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's webpage.

Question submitted by Steven D.


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