The New York Times recently brought awareness to the regional language differences across America in a quiz they published online. Participants were asked to answer each question with what word they normally use that matches each description. A map then shows you what areas share those regional language differences across America. By the end, it collects the data and guesses where you live. And it’s pretty accurate too!
1. Addressing a Group
One of the most popular regional language differences across America is how we address groups of people. Do you say “you guys” or “y’all?” The southern states are most famously linked with “y’all.” In fact, it’s even written on signs down there. “Y’all come back now!” I’m from the crew, like most of America, that says “you guys.” What do you all say?
2. The Sandwich
Are you a hoagie fan like me? Or maybe subs float your boat? If you’re down in Louisiana, you may want a po’boy or poor boy. We all have a mental prototype of the longer sandwiches that have lunch meat or cold cuts in it. But of course we all call it different things.
How do you pronounce the word “pajamas?” The quiz offers two options: with the vowel either in “palm” or “jam.” I sometimes interchange these two, but the east- and south-coasts over to Texas are associated with using the “palm” pronunciation. It’s interesting to learn about subtle differences like this.
Up and around the New England area, we wear sneakers to gym class. But as soon as you move over one time zone, it explodes into a tennis shoe frenzy. There aren’t many words to describe this type of shoe - running shoes is another. I find it eye-opening to see how something that we all use can have such a different name across the country. I mean sneakers and tennis shoes sound nothing alike!
When you are driving and you run into a circle, what do you call it? Is it merely a “circle?” No, “traffic circle” sounds right. But what about the people like me who call it “roundabouts?” If you’re in New England, it may even be a “rotary.” Goodness, Google’s driving directions must get confusing having to list all of those in case you call it something else.
No one knows how to use the word “anymore.” Some people add it in random places that doesn’t technically make sense. An online example is “pantyhose are so expensive anymore that I just try to get a good suntan and forget about it.” While the majority believe this usage to be incorrect, a decent number consider it appropriate to use. I can remember my mom saying once, “So, is the concert still at 7:00 anymore?” I’m used to it, but that doesn’t mean I agree it can be used there.
7. To Top the Cake
Do you use frosting? Or icing? Are they interchangeable or are they two different things? Most people say frosting but there are people torn between the difference. Icing is thinner than frosting and has a sugary taste. Frosting is thicker with a more creamy or buttery taste. You’re welcome.
These are just a few of the regional language differences across America. To me, it’s fascinating to see how the same country can have so many different dialects. Did any of these shock you? How do you say the things I talked about?