You Say Soda, I Say Coke

Hey, remember a while back when everybody was doing those regional accent video blogs? Well, a friend of mine just sent me link to a bunch of maps put together by a North Carolina University PhD student that are based on a linguistic study that looked at this very thing. Pretty cool if you’re into that kind of thing, and I know many of us are. You can look at all of the maps from the study, and look at the results by city, by clicking here. I’ll be nerding out on this for the forseeable future.

Despite what the maps say is the norm for a regional term or pronunciation, its not that simple. I grew up in Southern California, but use many terms and pronunciations that are distinctivly south-midwestern thanks to my mom’s family who came from Missouri. For example, soda/pop was always “coke” (note the small c) no matter what kind you were drinking:

Waitress: Can I get you something to drink?

Me: Sure I’ll have a coke, what kind do you have?

Waitress: Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper…

Me: I’ll have a Dr. Pepper

See what I did there? Dr. Pepper is a coke, with a small “c”. Not “big C” Coke, like the brand. When I looked at my hometown on the map, it does reflect a higher percentage of people who use the word “coke” than in other Southern California cities, so it makes sense.

Also, we grew up saying “grinder” instead of sub, but I don’t even see that reflected on the map. I know we aren’t crazy, because there’s even a shop that my mom loved called D’Elia’s Grinders that she thought was worth going out of the way for if you wanted a sandwich. It was pretty good, as I remember.

And I know that California is a little blended on the caramel/carml question according to the map, but I can’t think of anyone who says “carml” instead of “caramel”, unless they are talking specifically about Carmel the city, in which case they say car-MEL; or one of the many roads and neighborhoods here in San Diego with Carmel in the name, in which case they say CAR-mel. If you’ve ever driven the highway 56 corridor through San Diego you know there are a lot of Carmel streets. I think they were short on name inspiration in that corridor, but thats another blog.

A couple of other comments:

Mayonnaise is always pronounced “man-aze”. And its gross.

It doesn’t matter how you pronounce “pajamas” because they are called “peejays” or “jammies”.

Dinner is an early supper.

“Roof” and “root” are not pronounced the same as “room” and “broom”, despite the presence of double ohs.

“Expecially” isn’t a word. It should always be pronounced “especially”. I can’t believe they even asked this question in the study…

Ok, so now go take a look at all the fun maps!


About PGMG

Mama. Bookworm. Hiker. Music lover. Retro enthusiast. Eater of nachos.
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2 Responses to You Say Soda, I Say Coke

  1. eric.rial says:

    In Iowa we called it Pop. In fact it said that on the vending machines… pop machines. Got a lot of weird looks when I moved to North Carolina. Nice post.

  2. JM Randolph says:

    I have found my kindred spirit! In Indiana, we grew up calling it coke. I was trying to explain that to my kids and they looked at me like I had three heads.
    Them:”Well, what would you say if you wanted a Diet Pepsi?”
    Me: “You’d ask them what kind of coke they had. Duh.”

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