Fun Maps

There are some neat maps of regional pronunciation in the US available from NC State University. I thought I'd point out a few. There are 122; I recommend checking them out. You can click on these to make them bigger.

Bowie: I'm surprised that so little of the country pronounces this correctly:

But I did learn how to speak in that little blue shading that's over there on the east coast. I have a theory about why it is that although the vast majority of the [u:] pronunciation is in Texas, there's a little pocket in Maryland. I'm sure that Bowie Mike would agree.

Creek: How do you pronounce "creek"? I have to wonder whether this has changed over time with the advent of mass media and perhaps some shaming from that? Because I remember as a kid knowing people who pronounced it with the short i, but this map shows hardly anybody at all.

Monday: OK, this is the one that made me wonder how accurate this survey was. How aspirational is pronunciation and/or our self-assessment of pronunciation? I know that more than 6% of the people I grew up with pronounce Monday as Mundy, but we feel dumb doing it.

If I wanted to feel more like I fit in with a particular region, I think I could use these maps to figure out a specific place and what it is proud of saying and try to pass.

Dinner: When I moved to Tennessee, I remember there was a soda machine (pop, for those of you in the midwest, dope in TN) at the school. There was a sign on it that said: "Not to be used until after dinner." I was kind of perplexed. I asked another kid, "Who the heck is here after dinner?" He looked at me like I was nuts. "We all are, dummy," he said. Turns out that dinner is the mid-day meal and supper is the end-of-day meal. "It's obvious," he told me. "It's because of Jesus. He ate the Last Supper. Duh." Oh, well, yeah. My lack of religious upbringing also hurt me when we read out loud in HS freshman English. (Did we really do that? It feels like something little children do.) I had never heard the word "Yea" out loud, so I pronounced it "Yeah." But since every other word in the Bible is apparently "yea", I got laughed at. Yay.

Also, there was no way I was going to go to the corner to get a "dope in a poke," thank you very much. I don't care how friendly you think you're being; a Baltimore kid is going to be on the lookout for cops in that situation.

Come With This one strikes me as accurate, if only because my late wife said "Come with" and she was from Wisconsin. She also followed the map for "poem."

The devil is beating his wife: And finally, I have never heard anybody say this, but I am so adding it to my vocabulary right this minute.

Are there interesting phrases or pronunciations you use that aren't covered by the NC charts? And are you proud of them or do you try to suppress them? Every so often I catch a flat "o" that I thought I'd stamped out years ago. Do you pronounce all the consonants in "breakfast"?

7 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

lacochran's evil twin said...

You mean everyone didn't yell out "Dibs!" when they wanted the front seat in a car? That's just wrong.

AbbotOfUnreason said...

I've always used Shotgun. "Dibs!" was used by my middle-school friends to keep each other away from the girls we wanted to go steady with.

Of course, we never talked to girls.

Highway said...

I might have mentioned that my wife is from Maryland, so I did have to relearn how to pronounce the name of Maryland's former governor and namesake.

Now however, my "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" album will never be the same.

Highway said...

On the same subjects (my wife and accents, that is) -- my wife, even after years of being away from home, still says, "warsh" as in "Warshington, DC"!

AbbotOfUnreason said...

My dad was born in DC and he puts that R in there. Mom wouldn't let us pick that up, and I think it was less common in my area of Baltimore anyway. She also never let us pronounce water as whutter and we certainly never put it in the zinc. I do catch a flat O every so often, though, as celebrated in the song, "Oh, I want crabs for Christmas."

On the other hand, my friends and I have said we were going "down nee ocean" ironically so often that it seems like it has stuck and I can't shake it.

Amanda Mink said...

We live in Crofton now. I will never forget my first visit to Maryland. The Inner Harbor was most memorable. That, and my purple polka dot polyester shorts that Uncle Johnny's girlfriend made for me specially for that trip. Thanks for good memories,
your cousin Amanda

AbbotOfUnreason said...

Hi, Cousin Amanda! I'll bet you know how to pronounce Bowie. I live in California these days. Trying to decide where to move next.

How did you find the blog? We should connect, I don't think I have your email. Mine is abbot at abbotofunreason dot com.