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Women make wilk, big whop!

November 13th, 2002

Dialects

Harvard’s Dialect Survey is an in-depth look at how we speak as Americans, in terms of vocal inflections and regional phrases. For instance, do you pronounce “coupon” as “q-pon” or are you one of those annoying people that says it “coo-pon”? (Of course here “annoying people” refers to people that “don’t say it like I do.”)

One of the more interesting questions to me was with regards to subs/grinders/hoagies/etc.. Being from New Jersey, I’ve always called them “hoagies” but was amazed that the majority of the country says “subs.” I guess that’s why there’s no chain called “Hoagieway.”

A word they seem to have left out, though, is “water.” I’ve always said it with a “New Jersey accent” (which I wasn’t aware existed until I went to college) as “wooder.” Apparently, that’s not how most people say it…

What words do you use or pronounce differently from everyone you know?

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: jk
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 11:14:11 am
I grew up in an "educated" household where my father (the German immigrant) spoke the King's English, and my mother studied voice and acting, yet I did not realize until I got to college that everyone in my town says "My cars needs washed" and that that was wrong! Linking verbs are scarce in central PA. I am sure that all of our teachers spoke that way, and no one ever corrected us! That needs fixed! (I imagine it stems from the "PA Dutch" influence around here.)

My brother won a contest in college for having the weirdest vocabulary string: in my family, we have always called someone who is a fussy or picky eater "snoopy." As in "He is such a snoopy eater, he never finishes his broccoli."



FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 11:27:32 am
I wonder what came first, "subs" as the definitve description, or did the sandwhich shop push the word into first place?

I did the survey a couple of days ago - its interesting. I use ya'll frequently, which got me plenty of funny looks and redneck jokes in Leesburg although it seems to be much more acceptable in Fredneck



FROM: mike [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 11:49:16 am
PA seems to be a breeding ground for differences...especially those of us closer to eastern PA and those from western PA (my fiancee).

She has pop, we have soda. She has blacktop, we have macadam. She likes the Stillers, we hate the Steelers. She has mulch, we have tanbark. They say 'what are yinz guys doing', we say 'what are you guys doing.'

They've even got their own website to help understand Pittsburgh speak:
http://www.pittsburghese.com.



FROM: Monica
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 12:31:39 pm
My mom's family all live in the Philadelphia area, so I'm used to hearing "wooder" for water and "Woorshington" for Washington. They all use hoagie, too. I used to use it, but now not so often, because people won't know what you mean. Here in Wisconsin, I've learned the "proper" way of saying "drinking fountain" is "bubbler". Weird.
Other regional differences (east coast vs. midwest): soda vs pop, and kitty-corner/catty-corner. I say catty-corner, people here say kitty-corner. Mrow.



FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 2:01:41 pm
Chris -- I started using "y'all" on occasion in college and still use it now. It's the sole piece of "southerness" that has crept into my vocabulary.



FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 6:50:20 pm
Even though I live in the capitol of the Confederacy, the only time Southern slips into my speech is when I talk with my mom, a former Alabamamian. Really, it's a shame because Southern can be downright endearing if you don't actively shut it out.



FROM: Greg
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 7:58:09 pm
With me, I write things properly but mangle them when I speak. I tend to say "prolly" instead of "probably". I say "intresting" instead of "in-ter-es-ting".

One difference I did notice between how we speak here in California and in the South was when I was in Nashville and someone gave me directions. They said, "Take a left and drive until you cross the bridge. Take the first left and go..." Ok, fine, so I took the left and drove for about 5 miles looking for the stinkin' bridge. I backtracked and realized they were talking about the FREEWAY OVERPASS. So for whatever reason, there's no distinction between an overpass and a bridge in the Nashville area.

My dad was even more bizarre. He'd say "chimbley" instead of "chimney".

I really don't have a problem with regional pronunciation until it creeps into writing, and we've all been over this a million times before: people never being taught how to write certain words, so they spell it as it's pronounced. This leads to the old their/they're/there problems, and to top it off, when you point it out they get upset and say, "What does it matter, you understood what I said."

My wife drives me nuts because of her mispronunciations and differences, mainly because we have a baby. I'm afraid she's going to teach him things like "fridgerator" and "guesstimate" (she will never say estimate).

I lost my train of thought. How dare I. Me.



FROM: jk
DATE: Wednesday November 13, 2002 -- 11:04:40 pm
YINZ!!!!!!!!! EWWWW, thank you for the college flashback. I went to PSU where people could argue about this stuff for hours. "Hi! Are you a freshman? What's your major? Do you say 'soda' or 'pop'?"



FROM:
DATE: Thursday November 14, 2002 -- 12:50:41 pm
I moved to the south about two years ago, and I've learned that you don't "push" a button, you "mash" it. You don't use a shopping cart at the store, you use a "buggie". Also, you don't put things "away", you put them "up". Oh, and obviously there is no pop or soda here, it's all Coke.



FROM: Kevan
DATE: Friday November 15, 2002 -- 3:17:21 pm
"Y'all" is one thing, but what about the plural? "All y'all" is a true sign. Quite useful when making generalizations, or when getting the point across (added emphasis).

"All y'all better shut up."



FROM: Vince
DATE: Wednesday November 27, 2002 -- 11:35:31 am
Sometimes, inexplicably, I sound Canadian. It's gernerally only noticable with the words "out" and "house". My oldest brother tells me that he suffers from inadvertent Canadianism, too, although my other two brothers don't.

As an aside, I once heard someone call a groundhog a "whistle pig".



FROM: yomans
DATE: Tuesday October 18, 2005 -- 6:19:01 am
To JK,

"My cars needs washed" comes from the Scottish. I had two Scottish flatmates and they would say "My hair needs washed", where as I would say "My hair needs to be washed" or "my hair needs washing"



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Wednesday October 19, 2005 -- 4:59:10 pm
There are tons of ways to say water. One, which must be Pittburghese, because my mom comes from that area, and she's the biggest culprit: WOT-r. Like WATT. She also says COT for caught and BOT for bought.

But then, way down south, it's three syllables for water: Wa-wa-ta, and two for caught and baught: cawit, and bawit.

I do the "X needs fixed," and "X needs washed," and "the lawn needs mowed," and I never knew it was incorrect until I went to college. Apparently, I needed educated.



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