Ah, welcome to The Nest on this fine Sunday morning! Thirsty? Here, let me pour you a nice, refreshing carbonated beverage….
Now, while you sip your cola, let me tell you about a neat phenomenon I wasn’t really aware of until I entered the internet age a little over a decade ago. You see, it appears that even though in the United States we all speak the same language (well, most of us anyway), we don’t speak it the same way. Of course, each region has its own accent… the way people from that area pronounce certain sounds. Even here in St. Louis, there’s a local tendency to turn the “or” sound into an “ar” sound (example: “I’m stuck in traffic on Highway Farty”), though that has begun to die out over the last generation or two.
But besides the fact that we say words differently, there is also a regional tendency to use different words to describe the same thing. One of the best and probably most infamous example involves that drink I just poured for you. What do you call it?
Well, that again depends on what part of the country you are from. There seem to be three different common generic terms for a carbonated soft drink in this country…. soda, pop, and coke. Below is a fascinating map a friend from my message board put up about 10 years ago illustrating the results of a survey on which word is most popular in each particular county in the US:
You will notice right away that the word “pop” predominates throughout the Northwest and Midwest parts of the country, while “coke” rules in the South, and “soda” is the word along the upper East coast and the Southwest. But there are a few anomalies to the pattern that can be found, and probably the biggest is centered right over where I live….
St. Louis is an island of “soda” in “pop” territory.
This has led to a couple of interesting bad assumptions on the part of people who have judged me by the words I say on the internet. One of the people on my message board once jumped on the fact that I always said “soda” and mentioned that us “east coast types” need to get with the program and start calling it pop.
For whatever reason, St. Louis put a cork in pop and decided to refer to their drinks as soda…. actually, a lot of older native St. Louisans call it “sodee” (rhyming with Cody). There is a guy I work with who grew up here, but spent most of his adult life in Northern Indiana and around Chicago before moving back to town, and he always calls soda “pop”… and that word is like nails on the chalkboard to me for some reason. It just sounds so out of place and wrong to call it pop….
You’re back in St. Louis, dude, call it what it is…. SODA!!!!
Wait a minute… what did I just say? Icebox? What decade am I living in, the 1920’s?
When you hear the word “icebox” these days, you probably think of something that had to be filled by these men…
But that’s just another regionalism of my area. It doesn’t matter how modern it may look, everyone here will refer to your refrigerator as an icebox…
I had no fricking clue until the folks of the internet again started looking at me funny that most people outside of St. Louis didn’t call their fridges “iceboxes”. It still doesn’t seem right to me to call it a fridge… refrigerator’s just some fancy name made up by Sears or Maytag, right?
This regionalism is getting awfully confusing and frustrating. Oh, you’ve finished your soda? How would you like to top it off with a nice hot fudge sunduh?
What do you mean you have no idea what that is? A sunduh!!! Everyone’s had a sunduh before, right?
Sigh… it turns out most people pronounce the ice cream treat you see above the same as the current day of the week. But around here, a lot of people turn the “dae” into a “duh”, and this is one local variation even I’ve begun to evolve out of since it’s begun to fall out of favor here… and I’m not very proud of it. I still want to go to Dairy Queen and order one of their grossly overpriced sunduhs. I hear they even have rainbows on fire…
Each area of the country has its own regional vocabulary, and sadly these local curiosities are becoming a victim of the booming internet and particularly social media… slowly forging one homogenized language that will be spoken by everyone from sea to shining sea. But it may take some time to break down the soda/pop/coke walls that divide us… and that’s a good thing, because we should maintain some semblance of representing where we come from.
So, what terms are specific to your area of the country that aren’t in common usage elsewhere? Feel free to educate me in the comments section!