Monday, October 15, 2007

Which English do you speak?

OK, are you ready for some discussion?

Here are my thoughts on a selection of questions from the survey. If you haven't taken it yet, go here before you read on.

And for the record, my place of growing-up is Beaverton, Oregon.

2. I grew up saying "pop" exclusively, but somehow, after leaving home, "soda" has crept increasingly into my vocabulary. This distresses me. In any case, "coke" is not an acceptable variant to me, unless you're living overseas. Then it becomes OK for some reason.

3. I say "tennis shoes," but the fun thing is that my brain no longer recognizes it as two separate words, each with their own meaning. Instead, they've merged to become a new word, "tennishooz." I seem to remember my mom saying "tennies," which was always mildly irritating to me. Sorry, mom.

4. I wouldn't even know what this is except that we did a huge project on them in 5th grade. And we called them crawdads, thank you very much. During that 5th grade unit, I think I wrote a story for creative writing time about one getting stuck in the cafeteria blender. Lovely.

5. I use "you guys" to the extent that I've taught it to all the English pupils and classes I've had over the past 5+ years.

7. I had no idea there was a phrase for this phenomenon. Call people who live in the South what you will, but wow, have they got a colorful description for everything!

8. Again, I experienced a shift here. It used to be "sleepies," but I find myself saying "eye boogers" more and more. I think it might be because it's simpler with Miriam - she understands boogers, eye boogers, and most recently ear boogers. That's what we call built-up ear wax, but when we call it boogers, she puts up less of a fight when we get it out. Oh, and terms involving profanity - does anyone really use those?!?

9. OK, one more creepy shift. I grew up saying "aunt" like "ant," but now say "auhnt." I'm not exactly sure about this, but I think it happened when we moved to Russia and I wanted to be more precise about the term to non-native speakers of English. So I started saying "auhnt." And now I still do.

A similar thing happened to me with the word "mobile." Every country we've been to besides America pronounces it something like "mow-bile." So that's how I say it. And then we come back to America and apparently, it's "mow-bull." Who knew?

10. I might still say "garage sale" except that Tucsonians DON'T HAVE GARAGES! What is up with that, anyway?

12. Definitely traffic circle. Now that we've determined what they're called, if only Americans could figure out how to use them...

18. I say "dinner," but sometimes I wish I said "supper." It sounds so cute and makes me feel like I'm Laura Ingalls (a recurring childhood fantasy, actually).

25. More wishful thinking: I say "binky" but I wish I said "dummy."

26. I called this "take-out" until we went to the Middle East, where it's called, in all seriousness, "take-away" (in English and everything).

27. I had not thought of these creatures in ages, so I really couldn't remember what I called them. I hope I didn't mess up their survey too much.

29. Does anyone else remember that Mathnet? Definitely "ATM - automated teller machine."

Please share your thoughts! I am so interested in dialect variation and I would love to hear what you say and why.


Suzanne Bubnash said...

Interesting that according to the survey some of my usage is more appropriate to the Northeast than to the West coast where I was raised. But my folks were both from the Northeast, which obviously affected my speech. For instance, we said 'sneakers' in our house while my peers used 'tennis shoes' (sorry about the tennies. . . ). We used soda until spending a lot of time w/ our PA cousins, who said 'pop'. I had to learn what green onions were--to me they were 'scallions'.

Bridget said...

You know, I've always wondered what scallions were. And all this time, it turns out someone could have just said "green onions" and it would have made sense!

Thanks for nothing, Emeril!

Liz Johnson said...

Ok... here are mine. I would love your analysis, Bridget.
2 - Generically, it's coke, although I mostly call things by their name, even if it is Diet Dr. Thunder.
3 - Sneakers. Always sneakers.
4 - Crawdaddies.
5 - You guys. Sometimes I say ya'll very deliberately, but it does NOT come naturally.
7 - "It is raining while the sun is shining and that really freaks me out." No set phrase, either.
8 - Eye crusties.
9 - Generically, 'ant,' specifically, 'ahnt.' And it's mow-bull.
10 - Crap sale. Second choice is garage sale.
12 - Roundabout or 'glorieta,' which is what they call them in Mexico.
18 - Dinner.
25 - Pacifier and binky are interchangeable here.
26 - Take out.
27 - I'm with you! Do we really see these creatures often enough to give them a common name??
29 - ATM.

Also, the bug is a roly-poly.

Nancy said...

I grew up so many places, I don't think I even know where I get my accent from. I have tried desperately to maintain my childhood-isms as the Utah accent has never greatly appealed to me. years...that'll put some Utah-isms into my speech.

I actually could never choose one and had to think long and hard about what I would say before my language was infiltrated (by Albertaisms before Utahisms).

Shoot, I'm a mixed-up individual.


1. Sub, or cold cuts...not hoagies which is what everyone seems to call them here.
2. Pop, but soda is creeping into my vocab. We never drink it so it's usually not a problem.
3. Tennis shoes, gym shoes, runners, or...inside shoes, anyone? (I grew up wearing boots, so we got "inside shoes" for school).
4. Crawdads.
5. I also say y'all or you'uns deliberately but naturally I say, you guys.
6. I don't really have a word for this guy. I've heard them called potato bugs, which bothers me, because their not. Rolly Polly just gets on my nerves.
7. Sunshower, of course. Or basketball rain, but that wasn't one of the options and I think it's just something my family says. I might start saying "The Devil is beating his wife," just for kicks though.
8. Sleep. Or eye boogers.
9. I usually say "Auntie" when addressing my aunts. I pronounce both like ant, although I occasionally say auhnt. (mow-bull drives me nuts, by the way, Bridget...I can't stand it).
10. Garage or yard sale
12. Traffic circle.
18. I used to not distinguish, by my aunt does, so now I kind of do. I suppose typically dinner...
28. Soother. Although I'm tempted to start saying nuk-nuk or something else...
26. Take-out

I think some of their choices were too cliche--probably because I studied them already in my first linguistics class and could pin point who would, typically, say what, where...I did my survey in an airport, actually. It was great. I got people from all over to take it.

Hareega said...

in Tucson running shoes is "zapatos" !

in Jordan soda is always "bebsi" even if it was a coca cola or a sprite or a fanta

Bridget said...

Liz - you are one of the coke people?!?! Had I known...

Crap sale? Really? I thought some of those choices were just fake fillers. :)

Sneakers. *scoff.* Don't know what you're gettin'.

Bridget said...

Nancy - "inside shoes" is intriguing to me. Was that one of the choices?

I call them roly poly or potato bugs. You say they're not potato bugs, but did you see some of the choices? They're certainly not box elder bugs, either.

I knew you would choose "soother." That's the only time I've heard it and it was on your blog once.

Bridget said...

Hareega - ah yes, Bebsi. My best friend.

michelle said...

So I am being a blog stalker... I was a little distraught that I put my place of origin as Canada (which WAS one of the options) and then I did not appear on the map... "Soother" is definitely a Canadian term (well, it is widely used in my area anyways! I hadn't heard them called anything else until I moved to the States) "Inside shoes"... I had forgotten all about those! We did call them that, although I think that referred to any shoes you wore exclusively indoors (aka, not boots or muddy shoes). We were required to have them in elementary. "Supper" too, definitely. Maybe it is a farm thing? Although I now use dinner more often... Oh, and I call them pill bugs. And I also thought it was interesting to see that green onions are scallions! Who knew they were the same thing??

Kristen said...

This is too fun. Also having grown up in Beaverton, our dialiect is similar...and I have fond memories of laughing with you about those who mispronounce certain words like "take a pitcher, walk acrost the street, and put the melk in my baig." Of course this survey is not about accents or pronunciation but about labels. I took the survey FIRST, and then read in disbelief how similar our first several answers are. Except this one: for some reason I've always said soda! Calling soda "coke" is like calling jeans "levi's," which is only acceptable if you are, indeed, drinking a Coca-Cola or wearing Levi's brand jeans. Definitely tennishooz. Um, there is an 8-inch photo of my face examining a crawdad for our fifth grade class project in the Oregonian. Mostly you guys, but a variant of y'all has crept into my casual speech. It's not quite the Texan drawl version, though. What's up with the wife-beating in Hell comparison? Don't those southerners know that domestic violence is no joking matter? I had never heard of any devil or monkey metaphors for this phenomenon--come to think of it, I would just say, "Oh, look. The sun is shining and it's raining. Cool." Okay, I admittedly call them eye boogies. And I would have thought that's what I always called them had the suggestions not been listed, because it was seeing the word "sleepers" that forced my recollection that I always called them that as a kid. A suppressed memory? I say garage sale, but yard sale is perfectly acceptable, and an estate sale is reserved only for selling off the estate of one deceased. I say roundabout, but they don't have many in our area...until just recently there are two right in a row on the way to my house. So I had to make up my own word, since I didn't grow up hearing it commonly. Dinner. Supper makes me think of soup and tea with pinkies extended and still starving after it's finished. I say pacifier, when I was a baby mine was a Nuk (thankfully, that is actually the brand we used so it was okay!), and my good friend Wiyaka called it a chewie, which I thought was so cute. And by the way , which and witch are pronounced the same. Julee and I used to try to catch the skeeters (and crawdads come to think of it) in the creek (not crik) in Oak Hills. And the other bugs are potato bugs in my language. I say ATM, and I don't remember a Mathnet specifically pertaining to ATM's, but I sure loved that segment, and Square One in general. It is probably the reason we are so smart. :)

Bridget said...

Michelle - Welcome! I'm not sure what's going on with the maps. Maybe they'll update them as they get more data from crazy places like Canada. :)

I'm glad some one else wasn't in the know about scallions and green onions.

Bridget said...

Kristen, you make an excellent point: people who call all jeans "Levi's" are WRONG!

For some reason, saying roundabout sounds so...Canadian to me. Michelle and Nancy, as our resident Canadians, can you confirm this? Of course, in my imagination, it's pronounced "roundaboot."

Oh, I totally remember making fun of that dialect that shall remain unnamed where people say bayg, acrosst, and melk. And pellow. And Sundee, Mondee, Toozdee, etc. Good times.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Hey, Grandpa, Pennsylvania born & bred, called the days Sundee, Mondee, etc. But at least he never walked acrost the street although he did play in the crik (or the run) as a child.
My Pennsylvania cousin Carol once asked Nancy & me if we wanted some "pine-cone" cookies she had made. We had never eaten pine-cone cookies--did they taste like pine-cones, were they shaped like pine-cones, was the dough textured by pine-cones, we had no clue. It took us several minutes of discussion and multiple requests for Carol to repeat it, before we could figure out she had made pumpkin cookies! When she asked, 'what did you think I was saying?' we told her, 'pine-cone' cookies-- she laughed and said how silly that was--she had not made pine-cone cookies, she had made pine-cone (pumpkin) cookies! She pronounced them the same but apparently thought she was saying 2 different words.

Nancy said...

Here in Utah people walk acrost the street. *shudder*

I'd only ever used "traffic circle." But, again, in Utah, they say round about, least, I've met people who were clueless when I've said traffic circle.

And, yes, I, too, was a little distraught that they claimed this a a survey of world languages, yet only the States were mapped. *sigh*

Kristen said...

I wanted to add that I do know what scallions are, but only because I worked in restaurants where it's apparently not fancy enough to say "green onions." Also, Suzanne, I am having trouble imagining this "pine-cone" could anyone possibly pronounce pumpkin like that? Probably worse than "punkin." I guess some folks were never Hooked on Phonics!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Well Kristin, if you ever spend time in certain Eastern states, you'll hear worse speech than that. I would have used other examples but wouldn't have a clue as to how to spell what their speech sounds like. They drop the endings off words & make multiple words one word, all of which sounds like cave-man talk. It's no mistake that national news anchors talk like we on the West coast. Pine-cone cookies is now an in-joke with me & my sister. I'll bring you some next time I'm out in FG!

michelle said...

I call them traffic circles... in fact, I thought "roundabout" was an American thing since Utahns call them that (Utah was the only place I encountered traffic circles and Americans at the same place. We don't have any where I live now, so I've had no chance to observe...)

BTW, I say "bayg" but not "acrost" or any of those other words... I do say "pahsta" (an 'a' like in 'fan') not "posta" for the noodles you eat...


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