When speech signifies class

by bklurker

Almost all of us code switch to some degree – make changes in speech and behavior depending on the situation and audience (such as adults who speak differently with friends and family than with strangers or coworkers, or children with their friends versus their parents or teachers.) I wonder how deeply parents and teachers/supervisors are involved in helping to define that difference.

A few incidents have made me think about this recently. I recently finished the second Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novel and was amazed to find out that well into the 1960s speaking Italian, instead of regional dialect, not only required training and effort, but was considered a snobbish affectation in certain circles, while, conversely, speaking Italian with a regional accent marked one as less educated. The second incident was visiting with my kindergarten-age nephew in a Boston suburb. He enjoyed testing my reaction to saying that he’s in “kindagahden”, as they say in the public announcements at his school. I’m originally from the lesser exurbs of Boston and have always found the accent to be offensive; the real accent only slightly less aggravating than the recent Hollywood portrayals. He reveled in my distaste as he had in his parents’ “We do not speak that way”. But how could we tell him why without insulting the people who do? How do we explain socio-economic class and its signifiers to a five-year old?

So here are some questions for discussion – how do you deal with accents and/or appropriate speech with your children? Do the accents only apply to the east coast, Texas and girls from California? How much code switching occurs naturally and how much does it have to be cultivated by family or serious self-study of higher culture to escape a perceived lower class? How do children (and young adults) learn to differentiate slang and texting from proper speech and written communications?

And at work – is it a hindrance to moving up in your company? Have you ever coached someone to speak/behave differently to get ahead?

Here are a few articles (since we always need links here…) The first is an NPR explainer on code switching, the second is about Hollywood’s golden age of the mid-Atlantic accent.

How Code-Switching Explains The World

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent

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292 thoughts on “When speech signifies class

  1. Interesting topic. My kids go to an urban school, watch a lot of gaming related videos (with UK and US speakers), play computer games, and have relatives whose first language is not English (although all speak English fluently). It’s interesting to see them switch between these worlds where what is acceptable varies greatly.

    My only pet peeves (so far) are when they say “aks” instead of “axe” or “dat” instead of “that”. Both picked up at school mostly from peers but a few adults too.

    They’re also learning what is an acceptable expletive and what is not. We have had a lot of discussions about what is appropriate in one setting is not appropriate in another.

    As for work, I have noted that native NYers with a strong accent tend not to get hired.

  2. I come from a middle class Massachusetts family so my dad has a touch of the accent but no one on my mother’s side does. When I got to college, other kids actually said to me that I didn’t sound like I was from Massachusetts (which was a compliment I guess). I quickly abolished “wicked” from my vocabulary as that just wasn’t said.

    I’ve lived in Atlanta for over 12 years now and so I do occasionally find myself saying ya’ll (where I previously would have said “you guys”). The “you guys” sounds harsh down here but feel like a faker saying ya’ll since I am not southern.

    I can tell immediately who my husband is talking to on the phone. He has one tone for his mother, one for his dad and one for his brother. If it’s a business call you can definitely tell too. My 8 year old is starting to lapse into a “I’m so cool and I’m bored with you” type tone on occasion and she’s definitely starting to sound like the girl she spends most of her time with at school. My younger kids go to a diverse daycare and last week my son told me he had a “booty butt”.

  3. DS says “yo, bro waas up” and sometimes says “yo, mama waas up” to me. He also does the Indian accent like in the Simpsons. He does all this to be funny but I remind him that the fakery can be seen as offensive. Yesterday, DD was talking about her accent. Her friends think she has an accent from somewhere. She proudly mentions that she was born in Boston and spent her babyhood there, so it must be a Boston accent.

  4. Louise -my brother was born in NY, lived in NJ and then Boston for his developmental years and then returned to NY. He ended up seeing a speech therapist for awhile because of the strong and muddled accents he picked up.

  5. I grew up in places with strong regional accents (Texan, Appalachian – which is very different from Southern) and went to college in Boston where there was yet another strong accent. But I managed to pick up none of them. I have a Michigan accent despite having never lived there. I did affect the use of the word “wicked” to mean “very” for a while when I was in college, but that was about it.

  6. BTW, I am of the opinion that the most accentless state in the country is Connecticut. I have never met anyone from that state with a trace of any regional accent.

  7. my sister (boston) married a connecticut guy and his parents and his siblings and now their kids (they all still live in CT) have very noticeable CT accents. there definitely is one.

  8. I just can’t hear the CT accent I guess. What characterizes it? BTW, I lived in CT for years, and my DH grew up there, and his whole family still lives there.

    To me, the way people from CT speak just sounds like newspeople on TV

  9. Mooshi- Eastern/Southeastern Connecticut natives often have the Providence/Warwick accent (not surprisingly), and that’s distinct from the Boston one. (Much worse, imo.) I hate the RI one, but love the Boston one.

  10. MM & anon,

    Is the Connecticut accent where they talk without moving their teeth? Sort of a Thurston Howell/ William F. Buckley like accent?

  11. BYSTANDER 1 [to Higgins] ‘Ere, tell him where ‘e comes from ‘f ya wanna go fortune-tellin’.
    HIGGINS [thoughtfully] Cheltenham, Harrow, Cambridge, and er—[glances at his notes]—India?
    PICKERING. Quite right!
    BYSTANDER 1. Blimey. ‘E ain’t a tec, he’s a bloomin’ busy-body. That’s what ‘e is.
    PICKERING. If I may ask, sir, do you do this sort of thing for a living, in a music hall?
    HIGGINS. Well I have thought of it. Perhaps I will one day.
    ELIZA. He’s no gentleman; he ain’t interfere with a poor girl.
    PICKERING. How do you do it, may I ask?
    HIGGINS. Simple phonetics. The science of speech. That’s my profession: also my hobby. Anyone can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue, but I can place a man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.

    Speech and teeth are the first indicators of social class available to strangers/interviewers, with makeup and hair close behind. You may recall that Melanie Griffith in Working Girl was taking speech lessons even before the masquerade and cut her bouffant hair to pass as an executive. BBC radio helped to flatten out British speech (at least below the true upper classes) and TV did the same in the US, but it wasn’t the Hepburn drawl that prevailed here but a California – Middle American hybrid without the hard r’s. I still have some regionalisms from my youth in my speech, such as the use of fetch as a verb applying to humans, not just dogs. But when I leave the northeast people and people ask where I am from I don’t say BOSS tən, but BAHS tən, which gets knowing nods.

    My kids are forgetting sometimes to code switch when they text, such as the recent use of can you do me a solid (I had to google it). I am just glad no one asked me that in the workplace when I was there.

  12. “When I got to college, other kids actually said to me that I didn’t sound like I was from Massachusetts (which was a compliment I guess).”

    I got the same remark about my lack of a Texas accent. Along with “you sound so educated (because of your lack of accent).”

  13. Ooh, the RI accent is a little trashy but I think of it as more pronounced in places like Cranston than in Providence. My DH spent his high school years in RI and he had a girlfriend from Cranston for a while with that thick accent. My SIL is from RI and she has it but it’s mellowed since she and my BIL moved to Massachusetts. I think I think of the RI accent as trashy because my SIL swears all of the time with that accent (not that the people of RI are trashy).

  14. We had a little bit of a problem with our children not code-switching when talking to me and DH. This happened in early middle school for both kids. I had to remind them that I’m not their friend, I’m their mother. They learned quickly, but needed a little guidance.

  15. When I got to college, other kids actually said to me that I didn’t sound like I was from Massachusetts (which was a compliment I guess).

    I got the same comment about my lack of a NJ accent when I went to college in the Midwest.

  16. I just can’t hear the CT accent I guess.

    We don’t hear the accent that is normal to us.

  17. Denver – The only people I know w/the Jersey accent are from S. Jersey but I can see how that has come to represent the way NJ people speak to others in just the way the Boston accent somehow stands for the way people in Mass. talk. I truthfully don’t know one person from Massachusetts in my generation that has that accent.

  18. Here, at least in the city the southern accent is fast disappearing. In an effort of appear folksy the car dealerships have a Bill Clinton talking in his southern drawl asking people to come buy their cars.

  19. “Boston accent somehow stands for the way people in Mass. talk. I truthfully don’t know one person from Massachusetts in my generation that has that accent.”

    I knew several in college.

  20. Houston,

    In Texas, is your drawl inversely related to your SES? Would a born and bred Houston based Exxon executives have a very light drawl while a refinery foreman would have a very heavy drawl?

    Here in Boston, your accent is inversely related to SES.

  21. Rhett: You nailed it. It does depend on your industry, as well as SES. In my neighborhood, there are very few natives–most people have moved here from other parts of the country. Also, most are in the medical/education profession. No accents, even in the schools.

    Even in energy companies, people in the finance/m&a/corporate side do not have accents. The only people that I know with accents are the ones actively out in the field. Some adopt an accent to fit in, and some have it naturally.

  22. I have a slight Southern accent although for the most part it’s pretty neutral (I think). I know sometimes I say “Ah” instead of “I”, because Ah can hear it echo in the phone. Sometimes I catch it in other words with a long I (sometahmes). I speak at several conferences each year, and I know that when I am speaking in front of an audience, it comes out (or maybe it is always there and I just hear it from the mike) so if I’m unconsciously coding I’m not making good choices. I don’t know why – there’s no advantage to having a southern accent when speaking in front of a national audience. My theory is that because I’m speaking more slowly and deliberately than I would in a normal conversation, I default to the vowels that are easier to draw out.

    I definitely use certain colloquialisms – y’all, fixin’ to, etc.

    There is a particular Low Country Southern accent that I love, I could listen to it all day. Not hickish at all, just lilting and soft. But it’s dying out. I know every few people of our generation with it.

  23. I’m trying to get DD to stop her frequent use of the word “like”. I didn’t realize I was going back to the valley girls in my own house. It’s a terrible habit, and I think the overuse of the word interferes with her message if she uses it in every sentence.

    DH does not have a Long Island accent, but several of his cousins and aunts have a deep accent. DD imitates them after we spend time with a lot of them on big holidays.

    My cousins are from central CT. They grew up near ESPN and I think they have an accent, but it’s different than southern CT.

  24. There is/was an old money Connecticut accent – think Katharine Hepburn – but I have never heard it from anyone under 70.

    The working class Connecticut accent sounds to me like an amalgam of Boston and Brooklyn, and is signified by the absence of certain consonants mid-word: mih’en rather than mitten, etc.

    I stamp it out mercilessly in the children, along with grating errors of grammar, based on the inverse relationship with SES here.

    Although regional accents are frowned upon at some white shoe law firms, they are an asset in court (as long as it is the local accent!).

  25. Atlanta – I drop “to be” with “needs,” too. Sounds totally correct to me. I need someone to zap me when I do it so that I can stop it because I am aware that I do that and cannot change it.

    My husband code switches. I can tell who he is around at work when he calls me. I can also tell who he is talking to on the phone. The exasperated/condescending tone is saved for certain family members. He doesn’t use that with me. Yet. :)

  26. My middle daughter still has some English Language Learners habits that we have almost managed to extinguish. Hat of Matt sort of thing. Last year, I had a number of conversations with some of the oldest DD’s native Spanish speaking classmates. One of them made a comment about my family’s (especially the girls’ and mine) vocabulary and that led to conversations about developing a broader vocabulary and comfort with more academic/professional language.

    One of the problems they had with code switching is that is was so unacceptable for them to speak professionally/academically in most situations so that they simply didn’t get the practice to become professionally fluent in English.

  27. “ The only people that I know with accents are the ones actively out in the field. Some adopt an accent to fit in, and some have it naturally.”

    My Texas accent was strongest when I worked in the oil fields, and in the intervening years I’ve lost it completely. At that time, many of the executives had pretty strong accents but I guess things have changed since then.

  28. “I’m trying to get DD to stop her frequent use of the word “like”.”

    Me too! Even if I could convince her to stop, I don’t know how a person makes a change like that, short of a professional voice coach. I think you have to be really motivated.

  29. Regarding Texas oilfield accents….I just recalled that my Wisconsin native uncle who spent his life from late teens until death was a Texas oil man. I never noticed any accent, nor much of an accent amongst his friends. Hmmm.

  30. A good TED Talk on code switching is Jamila Lyiscott’s 3 Ways to Speak English and being told that “you’re so articulate” from an upperclass woman because it was so shocking that she could speak so well.

  31. Sad news – Alan Rickman died. Thinking of accents – Hans Gruber, one of the best movie villains ever!

    I lived in Texas for a number of years but had only one good friend who was a native Texan, the rest had moved there recently from New Jersey. I didn’t pick up an accent but definitely used words like y’all, and when I am back there for any length of time it creeps back in!

  32. When I first moved to NY from Texas, I worked in a call center staffed mainly by locals. They would enjoy making fun of various Southern accents they heard from callers, remarking how strange and stupid they sounded. It was interesting to me hearing these heavily accented (IMO) people from Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and “Lawn Guyland” making fun of other people with “strange” accents.

  33. “We don’t hear the accent that is normal to us.”

    What’s normal to us is normal, not an accent.

    “I got the same remark about my lack of a Texas accent.”

    I’ve received compliments on not picking up a mainland accent despite the time I’ve spent there.

  34. You can listen to regional accents on this website. I didn’t hear a CT accent, but it may be too subtle for my ears.
    http://www.dialectsarchive.com/dialects-accents

    My H’s family made a big deal of trying to sound more educated by avoiding local accents, specifically dropping Rs at the ends of words. That’s a bit of a Bronx influence, I think, and is common around here. Instead of October, for example, people may say Octobuh. Our town name ends in an R, and the way a person pronounces it is a dead giveaway to their roots or maybe just to how they adapt to local accents.

  35. I hope I never run into any of you with my RI accent! Seems the littlest state gets no love here…Although most of the people I meet ask if I am from NY, so…

  36. “specifically dropping Rs at the ends of words. That’s a bit of a Bronx influence, I think, and is common around here.”

    That’s also very common here, and I don’t think that is due to any Bronx influence.

  37. I listened to Connecticut1, 2, 3, and 4 in your link before I got bored. None of them have much of an accent. Connecticut1 and 2 sound like my DH and his family. Connecticut3 actually sounds a bit Midwestern.

  38. Most of the Kenucky samples are for the western part of the state, which has a quite different accent from the eastern part. Kentucky12, though, is a good representation of eastern Kentucky

  39. I am very good with language, because I find it easy to pick up phrases that people say to me and parroting them back in the same voice. I speak another language that I started learning when I was 14 without a noticeable accent – because of my ability to repeat chunks with intonation. (You might think I would be a good singer and you would be very, very wrong).

    However, I find that it is a natural habit when speaking to someone with a pronounced accent. I don’t do it on purpose, but it kind of comes across as mockery.

    I used to work in a place with a number of Indian (dot not feather) patients who had the Simpson’s accent – so pronounced, almost like they were joking with us. Head moving with speech, too. “He is fevering!”. Is that a regional thing from a part of India, or SES?

  40. Also, Rhett – I would love to see a person’s teeth move when they talk. That sounds awesome.

  41. My mother had a very strong Boston accent (she grew up in a working-class neighborhood right outside the city). My father grew up speaking a different language, and although he became very fluent in English, he retained a thick foreign accent. Somehow I didn’t get any traces of either of their accents — my speech is pretty “newscaster” standard. I actually think that might be because I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid.

    My husband grew up in rural northern New England, and his accent changes a bit when he talks with his old buddies. One of the biggest things I notice is that his final “g”s disappear — “drinking” becomes “drinkin”, “hunting” becomes “huntin”, and so on.

  42. I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens. Most people are surprised when it comes up in conversation because I’ve lost most of the accent but it used to very heavy early in my career and I remember clients being amused by it but in a nice way as far as I could tell. When I get together with old friends from HS and the neighborhood, the NY accents are still really strong. DH and I make fun of our kids because they say OR-ange and we still say ARE-ange. And we still say CAW-fee. LI accent sounds as if their mouth is full of marbles.

    My parents aren’t native English speakers. Occasionally they use some new slang and it comes out totally wrong. At one point my mother started using the word “pissed” to describe how angry/annoyed she was. When I finally told her what it meant, and how it’s not really a good term for use in most conversations, she was really embarrassed. Ditto with my father and the f word, although that happened when we were kids.

  43. I grew up in rural Mississippi. My family obviously has a Southern accent – some tend toward the more “country” accents. When I would come home from college, my mother would tell me I was talking in my “college voice”. Over the years and with some effort, I think I have taken most of the country out of my accent, but I still definitely have a Southern accent. And I know the accent that Lark is referencing, very genteel, and I love it. Unfortunately, that’s not the one I have.

  44. Ada – it is probably prounced in some regions. However, higher SES folks with access to proper English speaking schools would find their kids being corrected at school and prohibited from speaking their home language at school with the goal of getting the kids to speak correct English without the interference of another language.

  45. I took that quiz two years ago, and I just retook it now. It is amazing. Darkest red right around Detroit for me, with lighter red through Wisconsin, Iowa, and upstate NY. I remember my kids took it, and got their darkest red in the Hudson Valley NY and CT. I wouldn’t have even guessed that my kids sound much different from me, but they do.

  46. I just took it again – it gave me my home town (a city of 200k), and two cities, 1000 miles away, near where I went to college. Amazing.

  47. Also, the quiz shows the least similar areas for me as being Maine, the Boston area, and RI!

  48. I got Boston, Worcester and Springfield when I took that quiz and think I got similar results the last time I took it. DH got Pittsburgh. I don’t think I have a Mass. accent but I know my terms for things like soda, sneakers, water fountain, etc. are very different from what my husband calls those things. And then there’s our aunt vs. ant battle. All of my children’s aunts do live in the NE so I stamp out the “ant” anytime I hear it.

  49. “I got Boston, Worcester and Springfield when I took that quiz ”

    Atlanta- I, too, got Springfield, along with DC and Arlington.

  50. Also, Rhett – I would love to see a person’s teeth move when they talk.

    Well, technically they don’t move their jaw. But watching them talk, you’re stuck by how their teeth stay still while their lips move.

  51. I loved how many times I had to click – “I have no word for this thing.”

    What do you call a drive through liquor store?

    What’s the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the road?

  52. Rhett – I did too. I also have no word for the night before Halloween or when it’s raining and sunny at the same time.

  53. I notice that not everyone gets the same questions. I didn’t get the one about the night before Halloween, or the drive through liquor store. I did get the one about the trucks (we always called them “semi’s”)

  54. “What’s the patch of grass between the sidewalk and the road?”

    Where I’m from we call it dirt, but I don’t think that was a choice.

  55. A drive thru packie!

    I don’t think those are legal in MA, I’ve never seen one that I know of.

  56. Pidgin is a lot less prevalent on Oahu than when I was a kid, but it’s definitely still around on the Big Island. It’s probably the urbanization issue — Oahu is the big city island with people from all over, plus people who may have grown up speaking pidgin but toned it down for professional life and now only bust it out occasionally for social purposes.

  57. We saw the drive through liquor stores in WY, and maybe CO, this summer. First we were stunned by the concept, but we quickly realized that it probably made a lot of sense in the winter.

  58. “but we quickly realized that it probably made a lot of sense in the winter.”

    or if your young kids are with you I guess, so you don’t have to bring them in or leave them unattended in the car

  59. I did get the one about the trucks (we always called them “semi’s”)

    The correct term is of course 18-wheeler.

  60. I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens. Most people are surprised when it comes up in conversation because I’ve lost most of the accent but it used to very heavy early in my career

    Same with me. I ran into someone I grew up with and noticed their very thick Boston accent. Since I never noticed it growing up, I can only assume I had the same accent. I never consciously tried to get rid of it but I think I lost mine in college.

  61. My 3 similar cities were Scottsdale, Chandler, & Gilbert Arizona. All very close to one another.

    Expressway is what they are called here. Almost universally. I grew up with Freeway. I thought it interesting to see signs “Freeway Ending” in the suburbs of Syracuse, NY this past weekend.

  62. ATM – so you should move back home…and clearly 25+ years here hasn’t changed my speech pattern/lexicon at all!

  63. The entire NE was bright red to mid maine, but there was also significant red patch in Montgomery/Frederick County MD. Bright blue everywhere else. More confirmation that I am hopelessly provincial. The most distinctive accent in my larger family is Philadelphia. The people they picked to read have much more mainstream vowels than my highly educated cousins.

  64. Wow, that quiz nailed my hometown! I think I probably sound a lot like Lark – soft southern accent with long vowels – but some people I’ve met from the midwest think I have a very strong accent. It definitely gets stronger when I drink and/or flirt!
    My mom and her siblings have some very “country bumpkin” accents and colloquialisms that my DD sometimes doesn’t understand. I have worked hard to get those out of my vocabulary because it embarrassed me as a teenager. My rural college town has a wide range of accents, from the locals (similar to my mom) to generic mid-Atlantic to foreign accents from all over the world.

  65. I was least similar to Springfield and Worcester, most similar to Overland Park and St Louis, both places I have never lived. I was born in Philadelphia and raised by parents from there, but grew up on the plains. I think I speak with traces of both. There were a lot of questions where I said a word one way for years, but switched after being mocked (crown for crayon) in my new area.

    On the original topic, I don’t mind any of the southern things my daughter picks up, but cannot tolerate double negatives or the use of ain’t. Those are both common in my inlaws, so I had to insist on my preferred speech without using words my children would then repeat. I had what my siblings referred to as my babysitting voice when someone called, so I suspect I still have a different tone for work.

  66. My accent, when it shows, is squarely NYC metro. Part jersey part Bronx part Brooklyn. The quiz still says that. I code switch frequently and will pick up an accent if I’m somewhere new within a week. I have one way I talk with my BFF and another at work. I dropped my jersey accent in college to improve my presentation skills. Taw-king by the wawr-ter a mile a minute doesn’t fly.

    Nyx- I’ve been in RI for a decade- definyeky some interesting dialect around here. I’ve been very careful to not assimilate any of it. Nor the BAHS-tin accent either. Are you in RI? I’d like to not be the only one! Lol

  67. We don’t have drive-thru liquor stores in VA, so it’s always a novelty to go to Brew-Thru whenever we go to the Outer Banks (NC).

  68. I’m a Michigander through and through. Devil’s Night is the give-away. My DD has picked up a slight regional dialect, and is noticed in the link that COC posted. She also is picking up the vocabulary. She says “suppose” way more often than I do (Do you suppose we should go to the store now?). But I’m doing my best to prevent “duck duck grey duck” from being said, as well teaching her the correct use of “lend/borrow”.

  69. Funny, I see that on the regional accent sample site the two from Hawaii were both tour guides, and both clearly using their tour guide voice — i.e. with the accent very toned down. In fact one of them, in his non-scripted portion, expressly said that he used to speak pidgin but changed after leaving home (not entirely true, he still had some of the inflection and definitely the speech patterns, but more the ‘lite’ version that would be comprehensible to the tourists he’d deal with in his job). Why would they choose people who’ve trained themselves to have less of a regional accent if the purpose is to collect samples of regional accents?

  70. Rhode-yes, born, raised and still here in little Rhody! Can’t say I totally disagree with the comments on RI’ers, some of it does sound trashy I suppose to outsiders-heck even we make fun of the Cranston/Johnston area folks! As for me, I have tried to work on it over the course of my professional life, with some success, but sometimes things just slip out!
    And Rhode, I know we both had little ones around the same time, and mine is turning one at the end of the month, so happy birthday to yours!

  71. That quiz never changes for me. New York, Newark/Paterson and Yonkers. All places where I or my parents lived.

  72. Rhett – I knew sisters from Staten Island – one had an accent and had gone to public high school, the other had nearly no accent and had gone to a Catholic high school. Accent is determined in large part by peers, not family. It took me quite awhile to understand their dad, but I got it eventually.

    I have a pretty good ear for understanding accents, which helped immensely when I lived in London. I tend to mimic or pick up bits if I’ve stayed somewhere long enough. Apparently though you can’t take the Buffalo accent out of a girl.

  73. Accent is determined in large part by peers, not family.

    I had a friend who moved to Australia with her American husband and had kids and was shocked to find that they spoke with an Australian accent. She had always just assumed they’d speak with an American accent.

  74. Thank you! Happy birthday to your little love bug!

    If you ever get the desire to throw two crazy babes together, let me know. I like meeting people from the blog!

    I’m glad you agree about Cranston. I know one person born and raised in that area who doesn’t have that accent.

  75. Atlanta, that’s so interesting. I grew up in Pennsylvania and never heard phrasing like that (or at least, not enough to recall it). I grew up on the eastern side–maybe it’s an east/west thing? I also think Philadelphia has its own expressions/accents that fall away not that far outside the city.

  76. Minneapolis St Paul, Grand Rapids and Madison, but the whole northern US to the West Coast is pretty red, which is why I probably don’t think I have an accent.

    We were just discussing candidates with limited English and/or who are very soft-spoken. Given that most of our hourly employees are native Oregonians, speaking English fluently and understandably becomes a distinguishing factor among candidates. Few of our candidates have regional US accents, but that isn’t important to us. Almost everyone who grows up in the US has understandable English and that’s really all we care about.

    My kids say “aminals” instead of “animals” and DS1 has just started saying it correctly. Mr WCE gets “bring” and “take” wrong, but that’s common and I suspect our kids will get it wrong too.

    Given that my mom is a reading/grammar specialist, it took me a long time to figure out that I needed to adjust my grammar/vocabulary to my audience. That’s something I will do differently with my children and is part of why I don’t correct their grammar.

  77. My results are dark red for NY metro, but certain words are leading indicators such as soda.

  78. Rhode, I would love to meet up some day!

    somewhat on topic-I find it interesting when you speak to someone on the phone and imagine what they must look like based on their voice/accent/terminology, and if you eventually meet them, how the image matches to reality!

  79. “when it’s raining and sunny at the same time”

    Places like this tend to have a lot of rainbows, and Rainbows as well.

  80. Lauren – growing up I said pop but now say soda. For the quiz I answered soda, so there must have been another question (or more) that still tied me to Western NY.

    WCE – Grand Rapids was the third city listed for me after Buffalo and Rochester.

  81. “We had a little bit of a problem with our children not code-switching when talking to me and DH….They learned quickly, but needed a little guidance.”

    What did you do? Just correct them everytime? My 10 yo DS is always calling my DH “dude” and he doesn’t like it.

  82. HM, did you see that the real Fate Yanagi has come forward?

    DD has met the Fate Yanagi from the video.

    BTW, to this day, anytime I hear someone ask, “you sure you sure,” I want to say, “ono you know.”

    I remember seeing Rap at Flagship U games. When he would walk up the stairs during games, passing the student section, chants of “bucks for lolos” would spontaneously break out.

  83. Minneapolis, Des Moines, and Lincoln. Nailed it with Minneapolis.

    Definitely duck, duck, grey duck. Peppermint bon bon instead of mint chocolate chip.

    You betcha

  84. Since I’ve finished the Ferrante novels, I’ve coincidentally met 3 women from Italy, 2 of which are from Naples. I also didn’t know, before reading the novels, that there are so many regional dialects in Italy. Italian is the Florence dialect and was chosen as the official language when Italy unified in the 1800s. The women I met said, yah, we speak dialects at home, what’s the big deal?

  85. Of course! Possibly the most interesting local news story of the past year.

    My youngest used to take a martial arts class with this tiny girl named either Faith or Fate — couldn’t tell which — and I always thought of Fate Yanagi.

    Ah, he had so many classics in such a short time.

  86. I am amazed at how many different ways there are to refer to sun and rain happening at the same time.

  87. @TCmama – You Bet is another one (used in the professional setting). I’ve started to add that one to my vernacular.

  88. @Murphy, Me too, especially since there’s no term for the sun/rain phenomenon in my lexicon!

  89. I watched the movie “Another World” about the voiceover industry. The main character offered speech training to a woman she met on the street who had a baby voice (great in the bedroom, they joked, but she was an attorney who couldn’t get hired).

  90. I never knew there was another way to say sunshower or rubbernecking until I took this quiz.
    When I was a kid, I learned from TV that trash is garbage, but it will always be garbage to me.

  91. I thought trash was paper and similar non-wet non-stinky stuff, and garbage involved old food and wet stuff that would get smelly (plus whatever else was in there).

  92. Atlanta – here they call sneakers, tennis shoes. In the home country sneakers were just called Nikes.

  93. ATM, I think sneakers is heard nationwide even though it’s most strongly associated with the northeast, but alternatives like tennis shoes are more regionally distinctive.

  94. I thought trash was paper and similar non-wet non-stinky stuff, and garbage involved old food and wet stuff that would get smelly

    That was always my understanding.

  95. “our aunt vs. ant battle.”

    Neither of those is used here. It’s always pronounced, “anty.”

  96. I’ll bet the quiz is more accurate for people who don’t answer “Where are you from? with “Well, I was born and raised mostly in A, but spent several summers visiting relatives in B, and went to college in C and grad school in D, first job in E, and moved to F just before the kids were born.”

  97. I’ve always known traffic circles to be traffic circles (with and without traffic lights). I just learned the term roundabout. I’ve also called traffic circles rotaries.

    The number of words for a carbonated beverage is pretty fantastic. Though I’m not sure how “lemonade” counts as carbonated.

    We had an argument about Devil’s Night. I know it as Goosey Night (as does my mom), but DH and his family call it Mischief Night.

  98. “a trash vs. garbage question.”

    Small kid time, we separated trash from garbage.

    Trash went into the trash can, for pickup by the opala man (the guy we left a case of beer for every Xmas), and went to the landfill.

    Garbage went into the garbage can, for pickup by the garbage man, more commonly referred to as the “butakaukau man.” The garbage, which was limited to food waste, was fed to pigs.

    Do you put trash into your garbage disposal?

  99. The quiz gets me pretty good for Newark and the NY/NJ area.

    The night before Halloween is cabbage night. How do people not know that?

  100. Cabbage Night?? Was your neck of Bergen County flush with cabbages that needed to be hurled somewhere?

  101. “What do you call the night before Halloween?”

    The obvious answer was not among the choices. Here, we call it “the night before Halloween.”

  102. I use the word aunt pronounced like a bug, but another difference is that we skip the title. I often hear the parent refer to the person as Aunt Sue or Uncle Bob, but then the child will just use the first name.

  103. “garbage= trash” — Yes, thank you! And garbage= trash=rubbish. It’s all the same to me, but my H and I have ongoing disagreements about these definitions, which affect how to group it all and which day of the week the stuff gets hauled to the curb for pick-up.

    “I remember seeing DS code switch when he was about 2 or 3 years old.” — That kid will go far. :)

  104. “I use the word aunt pronounced like a bug”

    ??? I went to Uncle Bob’s and Bug Sue’s house to visit???

    “I often hear the parent refer to the person as Aunt Sue or Uncle Bob, but then the child will just use the first name.”

    Such a child would be looked upon here as very disrespectful.

  105. ““garbage= trash” — Yes, thank you! And garbage= trash=rubbish. It’s all the same to me, but my H and I have ongoing disagreements about these definitions, which affect how to group it all and which day of the week the stuff gets hauled to the curb for pick-up.”

    Do you have separate pickups for garbage and trash? Is rubbish separate from them as well?

  106. “Stephen Colbert deliberately killed his southern accent.”
    So did DH when he went to college. I still have mine, but VA is not really very “southern” in speech so mine is not strong.
    We all took the quiz the last time a totebagger linked to it. It was pretty accurate pegging DH and me as southerners. But what was interesting was our boys came up with the same cities in the northeast, where two of them were born but none lived for a significant amount of time.

  107. “Do you have separate pickups for garbage and trash? Is rubbish separate from them as well?”

    Yes, apparently. But I still haven’t figured it out and I let H handle it. I think trash is mainly paper without drippy kitchen stuff, and rubbish may be bigger things? I honestly don’t know for sure. I do use the trash compactor (and waste disposal) when in doubt, to destroy or hide the evidence.

  108. the only time I ever have had a garbage disposal was my first house I lived in 3 years.

    garbage disposal unit or waste disposal unit (from wiki)

  109. Finn, do the friends of your children refer to the parents in your neighborhood via first name, or as Mr. or Ms. There isn’t a single child in my neighborhood that refers to me using my last name.

  110. I don’t have a good ear for dialects or accents, but when I traveled Route 66 a few years ago I noticed distinct differences along the way. And one thing my son picked up was how the Native American accent was vaguely reminiscent of an Indian accent, a la the Simpson character.

  111. My quiz results have my home state in dark bloody red.

    The only other places that are somewhat dark red are Silicon Valley and south FL (???)

    Reddish areas are CA, western NV, Seattle area, DC area (??), and parts of FL (???).

    Some reddish dots at Houston, Charlotte, NYC, and Boston.

  112. Lauren, the default way for kids to address adults is “aunty” or “uncle.”

    If first names are known, then it’s “aunty ” or “uncle .”

    If only last names are known, then it’s often “Mr. ” or “Ms. ” or “Mrs. .”

    It’s also very common, especially among young kids, to know an adult as the parent of another kid, but not know either first or last name. In that case, it’s often “‘s mommy,” or “‘s daddy.”

  113. I love thick accents from everywhere and anywhere. I love to listen to them and I love to mimic them. I love the Real Housewives of Cheshire specifically because of this! I do think that in most cases the absence of any real accent is an asset professionally. I think I have a pretty typical flat midwestern accent (Laura?) but I also tend to pick things up wherever I am like Madonna. So when I do go home I get very folksy very quickly. I think it helps me fit in wherever I am.

    I talk with my kids a lot about how they speak with friends and how they might speak with other people. I always tell them that if there is a chance they will be overheard then they need to use their most appropriate language. I curse a good deal so while I don’t “let” my kids curse, I don’t hammer on them too hard if they slip but they know that I had better not hear from any other parents that they slipped there.

  114. OK, let’s suggest other questions that could be added to the NYTimes quiz, based on some (possibly) regional terms you know.

    Is anyone here (besides HM) familiar with the term, “hollow tile?”

    That seems to be one that separates locals from transplants.

  115. Or slippers (slippahs) vs. flip-flops vs. go-aheads.

    Lauren, teachers are Mrs. / Ms. / Mr. Lastname. Other adults are usually auntie or uncle (sort of like ma’am or sir), or Auntie / Uncle Firstname, or for little kids Kidname’s Mom.

  116. Oops, apparently I ran afoul of HTML.

    It should’ve been:

    the default way for kids to address adults is “aunty” or “uncle.”

    If first names are known, then it’s “aunty [firstname] ” or “uncle [firstname] .”

    If only last names are known, then it’s often “Mr. [lastname] ” or “Ms.[lastname] ” or “Mrs. [lastname] .”

    It’s also very common, especially among young kids, to know an adult as the parent of another kid, but not know either first or last name. In that case, it’s often “[kid’s name]‘s mommy,” or “[kid’s name]‘s daddy.” That’s also not uncommon even if the first and/or last name is known.

    BTW, with doctors, these often don’t apply.

  117. Has anyone else ever referred to a winch as a come-along? Or is that just something from my Colorado dad?

  118. I’ve noticed among some Indian friends/acquaintances that kids also use Uncle/Aunty for unrelated adults, but their nomenclature is [firstname] Uncle/Aunty.

  119. “Has anyone else ever referred to a winch as a come-along? Or is that just something from my Colorado dad?”

    yeah, my cross country coach when we were all spending a day in the summer clearing our race course trail and there was a fallen tree in the middle, he had brought a “come along” to move the tree out of the way. he was from upstate NY originally.

  120. June – yes I think the leaving out the verb to be is a western PA thing, although my friend from York does it too. I have a good friend here from Allentown and she doesn’t do.

    Nyx- I do like RI! My in-laws still live there and DH and I spent a summer living in Providence.:)

  121. My father and DH call it a “come along”. I always instruct my kids to call grown-ups by Mr. or Mrs. unless otherwise instructed. And most of their friends also call me Mrs. Growing up, we called close friends of our parents anty and uncle (and the misspelling is intentional ’cause that’s how we pronounced it :)

  122. My DS is currently obsessed with Top Gear, and he has started to throw some Britishisms into his speech. For example, when he came home from school and I ask him how his day was, his standard reply has become “brilliant.”

    I just remembered that there was a young woman in my BigLaw class who was taking private lessons with a dialogue coach to try to get rid of her thick Boston accent. As Sky said earlier, the local accent would have been a big asset if she worked in state court, but it didn’t play well at a white-shoe law firm.

    I correct my kids’ grammar all the time. I just can’t stand hearing things like “Me and Jack are going to practice,” or “Olivia sings really good.” I’m even insisting that they learn the proper use of “whom.” I want them to be able to speak at the highest level. Whether they ultimately choose to do so is up to them, but I at least want them to have the skill.

  123. “private lessons with a dialogue coach to try to get rid of her thick Boston accent.”

    I wouldn’t want to get rid of a local accent. It seems more sensible to learn to speak without that accent, perhaps with a national TV news accent, facilitating code switching, which is not possible if you only know one code.

    As NoB points out, there are times when the accent is an asset.

  124. This should reassure some of you mothers who think your kids never listen to you. I took the quiz and the result was a mid-sized mid-western city where my mom was raised. I have never lived anywhere near there!

  125. I picked on sneakers and sub because those were the questions that pegged me as farthest away from Louisiana. I’m still wondering what a sub is called in Louisiana.

    Love the trash, garbage, rubbish conversation. As soon as HM described the meaning in more detail I thought, yeah that makes sense. In practice though I use trash and garbage interchangeably. To me, rubbish is a British term. So is “that’s not on”, “oi” and “wanker”.

  126. “I correct my kids’ grammar all the time.”

    One of my favorite anecdotes:

    Scene: Intermediate school speech competition. Speech coach (whose normal job is intermediate school English teacher) is on a 2nd floor walkway, and sees a couple of his students walking across the parking lot below, indicative of them having just completed their round and heading for the waiting area.

    Speech coach: “HOW’D YOU DO?”

    Students: “WE DID GOOD.”

    Speech coach: “YOU DID WELL”

    One student, not loud enough for speech coach to hear: “What are you, an English teacher?”

  127. NOB,

    “Me and Jack are going to practice,”

    Do you say, “Mean Jack? I didn’t know Jack was mean!” in reply?

  128. BTW, both my kids had that English teacher/speech coach. We all really like him and think he’s a very good teacher. I really like that, as an English teacher, he’s a real stickler for correct grammar.

  129. “Do you say, “Mean Jack? I didn’t know Jack was mean!” in reply?”

    Or perhaps correct that to, “Mean Jack IS going to practice.”

  130. My kids are terrible with past participles. I regularly correct them on those.

    ATM, maybe po’ boy? Or is that a more specific type of sandwich that just uses a similar roll?

  131. HM – most of the country calls it a sub except for parts of Louisiana (dark blue), Maine (light yellow) and NJ/PA (light yellow). I was thinking hoagie or hero for NJ/PA.

  132. ” In practice though I use trash and garbage interchangeably. ”

    So you sometimes refer to a “trash disposal” in your sink?

    I believe that most people with garbage disposals do differentiate, perhaps subconsciously, between trash and garbage.

    I have heard people say things like, “Throw your trash in the garbage can,” or “throw your garbage in the trash can.”

  133. I learned what a “hoagie” was from The Cosby Show. No one in Iowa used that term. I once made a friend at Bible study where I and my now-friend simultaneously said, “It’s a subjunctive,” and all the other women looked at us strangely.

  134. “So you sometimes refer to a “trash disposal” in your sink?”

    Don’t have one and never had, so don’t really refer to it at all. I’ve heard others simply call it “the disposal”.

  135. Quick survey: Who doesn’t have a garbage disposal? Who has never had a garbage disposal?

    We have two sinks in our kitchen, and both have garbage disposals.

  136. Finn,

    I’m thinking back and everyplace I’ve lived since college has had a garbage disposal. I can’t imagine not having one.

  137. Cabbage Night?? Was your neck of Bergen County flush with cabbages that needed to be hurled somewhere?

    I have no idea where the name came from, but the hurling involved eggs and toilet paper.

  138. Growing up in a Pittsburgh suburb, I noticed early on that certain people had a distinct Pittsburgh accent, and that those people were almost invariably poorer and less educated than those who lacked the accent. My mom grew up in a rowhouse with Irish parents who never lost their brogue. Both her siblings stayed in the city and both had horrid Pittsburgh accents as adults. My mom had neither accent. Don’t know how that happened. DH grew up in a “Yins” (as in, “Yins goin dahntahn for the Stillers game?”) family and all of his siblings talk that way, though he generally does not. I cannot for the life of me understand why so many Pittsburghers are PROUD of their horrid trashy accent.

    But some of the regional stuff is inescapable. I was in college before I learned that “my hair needs cut” was not standard English.

    We had Australian neighbors who were posted to the US when their kids were little. After 3 years in the States, their Australian relatives would call and want to hear the kids talk with their American accents. When they moved back home, teachers asked if they had been born here. But they reverted to Australian very quickly.

  139. “hurling involved eggs and toilet paper.”

    Another anecdote:

    Irish friend: Hurling is a very popular sport in Ireland.

    Me: Must be all that Guinness.

    Hmm, I wonder, is the use of “hurling” in that context regional?

  140. My kids address other children’s parents who they are familiar with as Ms.(first name) and Mr. (first name). Unfamiliar adults with Ms/Mr last name.
    In the home country people older than you were Aunty/Uncle – used out of respect. I call my inlaws Aunty/Uncle, not their first names. My mother’s sister asked us not to use Aunty “Sue” for her but none of us related to her by birth could call her by her first name. The younger relatives related by marriage tend to use her first name.

  141. We are definitely Mr & Mrs MacMurray to our kids friends. Not because we necessarily want it that way, it’s just how it’s done. And we’re Aunt (insect) and Uncle tooour nieces and nephews. I am “Fred” to my youngest when it’s just him and me someplace, and that’s our thing. DW detests that.

    And, btw, when I came home at 1030 Saturday night DS2 & 4 HS (now college) guys over to watch football. Everyone one of the friends got up and shook my hand when I came into the room and greeted me “Hello, Mr. MacMurray.”

  142. Scarlett, DW told me her brother spent over a month in his ancestral homeland when he was about 3, and by the time he came back, he’d forgotten English.

    He relearned English quite quickly, but he still understands the ancestral homeland language spoken by native speakers speaking as to other native speakers.

  143. Y’all apparently broke the test, because I just tried to take it twice and got “error.” Either that, or I broke it.

    But rain + sun = Devil’s beating his wife, the evening meal is supper, all soft drinks are Coke, and they should have asked, “Do you require your children to say yes ma’am or yes sir?”

  144. And we are firmly on the side of Mr. [last name], Mrs. [last name].

    We definitely differentiate between garbage and trash.

  145. “Aunt (insect)”

    Ohhh, now I get Lauren’s earlier reference about “aunt pronounced like a bug.”

    What threw me was that while ants are insects, they are not bugs.

  146. ‘I correct my kids’ grammar all the time. I just can’t stand hearing things like “Me and Jack are going to practice,”’

    I know a couple who cringe when their son’s girlfriend says things like that. They’ve told me she’s a “lovely girl” but with horrible grammar.

    “I’m thinking back and everyplace I’ve lived since college has had a garbage disposal. I can’t imagine not having one.”

    As I understand it, until fairly recently NY had laws against garbage (or waste) disposals. I was horrified when I moved to NY and didn’t have one in my kitchen.

  147. We are Mr. and Mrs. HFN to kids, except kids at church, to whom we are Miss (First Name) and Mr. (First Name). It’s a deep south thing that I really resisted when we first moved here, but I finally realized it is just easier to embrace local customs. Still drives me crazy when women in their 20’s and 30’s call me Miss (First Name), but I let it go.
    When we lived in the midwest, people were very big on telling children “Mrs. X is my mother! Call me Susan!” but I never hear that here.

  148. ‘Everyone one of the friends got up and shook my hand when I came into the room and greeted me “Hello, Mr. MacMurray.”’

    Ooh, be still my heart. I love that stuff, and I have not gotten over loving the sir and ma’am of my youth. Around here it would have stigmatized my children had I taught them to say that!

  149. And yes, whether or not you require ma’am or sir should be on the quiz. As displaced Southerners, when we were living in Fred’s back yard, we taught DS1 to say “yes ma’am” and quickly learned that people thought that was rude/hated it. Next stop, the midwest, was the same. Then we moved to the land of “Yes.” “Yes, what?” “Yes ma’am” and our poor kids had to learn a whole new way of interacting in order to fit in.

  150. What do you call the TV remote?

    I say clicker but in reality it might be uncomfortably close to clickah.

  151. Quiz placed me in Stockton and Modesto, so I guess I have a bit more Valley Girl than I thought. And in Denver, the strip of grass is called the Hell Strip, named by a garden columnist in the Denver Post years ago.

  152. RMS, perhaps there are lingustic similarities between the Stockton/Modesto of today and the Palo Alto of your youth.

  153. We never had a disposal growing up, and my parents still don’t (at least not in their primary house).

    When I started renting apartments, I grew accustomed to having one, and it was the first thing I had installed when we bought this house. Some people will tell you that they’re a bad idea with a septic system, but those people will tell you a lot of things are a bad idea (e.g., premium toilet paper). Usually, it just means that, rather than having the tank pumped every five years, you do it every three. It’s $200 a pop–not going to break the bank, either way. And then, ironically, the septic guy, when he was complaining about the tendency of antibacterial soaps to kill all the great septic bacteria, told me if I ever have some ground beef that has spoiled, throw it down the disposal to get all that bacteria in the tank. He just assumed we had a disposal.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a kid use my first name without a Mr. in front. I’d be surprised if one did. I’d have to effect that Lord Grantham look when he is baffled by a certain impertinence.

  154. Fred – BIL had his HS friends over one night over TGiving weekend. We were up until about 1am talking while FIL was in the office. At one point he came out and said “you guys used to stay up late talking about music and sports and cars. Now this whole night, all I’ve overheard is talk about property taxes, solar power credits, HOA restrictions…”

  155. Finn — Yes, I’ve had the “fewer” vs. “less” conversation with my kids a couple of times. But lately, it’s the “me and Jack” business that I seem to be correcting over and over again. That, and the related grammatical issue, which is when they say things like “Coach gave a basketball to Jack and I.” It’s eerily consistent, how the kids say “me” when they’re supposed to say “I”, and vice-versa.

    Tonight at dinner my son informed me that the Ford Mustang is “awesomer” than the Chevy Corvette. I informed him that no, it is not awesomer, but it might be more awesome. DS rolled his eyes.

    When the kids complain about my nagging them about their grammar, I tell them that I’ll stop nagging when they start speaking correctly. I guess grammar is the one thing that I really am sort of tiger-mom-ish about.

  156. “Tonight at dinner my son informed me that the Ford Mustang is “awesomer” than the Chevy Corvette.”

    LfB will adopt him if you don’t want him any more.

  157. Regional term – what do you call the small, utilitarian, informal room by which you enter the house and doff your shoes. It leads to the kitchen or family room/den, not the foyer. In recent decades, it houses laundry machines (unless they’re upstairs).

  158. Milo, have you got the solar panels?

    Our neighbor just installed them and I made him promise to give me the real numbers so I can see whether we would save.

  159. Mudroom. That used to identify you as having New England origins, but its use seems more widespread now.

    Sky – we don’t have solar panels, but one of the friends does on his townhouse. I think the economics all depend on what sort of tax credits, rebates, financing, and metering is being offered by your state, local government, and electric utility.

    This friend is very frugal–single, traveling IT software consultant who paid off his mortgage on his early 30s, so I trust the panels were a good deal for him. Taxpayers and ratepayers may feel differently.

  160. “we call it a garage.”

    And garages aren’t usually differentiated from carports.

    I was under the impression that doffing shoes prior to entry to a house was a regional (and also ethnic) custom.

  161. “Mudroom. That used to identify you as having New England origins, but its use seems more widespread now.”

    Probably in no small part due to This Old House.

    But HM is right, at least regionally. I don’t hear of anyone hear having a mudroom.

  162. I also grew up in Pittsburgh, but in my area it was unusual to hear a Pittsburgh accent. I never really said “needs washed” or “yins.” The only real Pittsburghese I still use is “jagov,” which is kind of a jerk–as in, that guy is a real jagov.

  163. “But HM is right, at least regionally. I don’t hear of anyone hear having a mudroom.”

    Perhaps because you don’t have any mud?

  164. Perhaps because you don’t have any mud?

    HAHAHAHAhahahaha ahhhh, good one Milo.

    Oh, wait . . . were you serious?

  165. I was serious. I’ve been to Oahu and Kauai. Maybe when we went hiking, we got muddy, but…

  166. The only real Pittsburghese I still use is “jagov,” which is kind of a jerk–as in, that guy is a real jagov.

    I think I just blushed. Such language!

  167. Milo – what else would it be but a mud room. And garbage is not the same as trash, but I had to train DH who grew up in Brooklyn to understand the difference. Of course, now there is garbage, trash, yard waste, compost, recycle (sometimes A, B and C). I had trouble remembering whether it was sneakers or gym shoes when I grew up. I’ve been in MA for fifty years and I came for college!!.

    A midwestern idiom form my mother who grew up in Kansas and Illinois is, if it were a snake it wouldda bit me (complete with subjunctive), shortened in our family over the years to simply, snake. Another is “little pitchers have ears” also shortened to pitchers. Another regional differentiator is how you say exactly, six o’ one, half dozen o’ t’other.

  168. ” I’ve been to Oahu and Kauai.”

    Then you’ve experienced red dirt. You don’t want that in your house, in any form.

  169. Meme – laundry room is common in the suburbs south of the Mason Dixon. I use the two interchangeably.

  170. In the region of Alaska where I work, I have to walk through three doors to get into the house. First door goes onto the “artic porch” – a weather tight (usually has a few windows) but unheated room. That door is always unlocked. Then into an entryway, through a locked door where I take off my shoes and hang up my coat. Then through a door into the house. Anyway, I imagine it helps keep the heat in to have two airlocks between the outside and the inside.

    I think “entryway” would be what my parents might call a mud room?

  171. OTOH, who needs a mudroom when you have a garage?

    People who are coming and going on foot? People who don’t want to go in the garage to put on their shoes/jackets (in some places, it might be real cold out there)?

  172. We have dirt here. Sometimes it rains, sometimes a lot. Then we have mud.

    I posted this link a couple of months ago when I wanted to complain about having to mop out the downstairs because our side yard was flooded AGAIN, but perhaps it bears repeating: https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/ItlxceMmsZpDUe8GjY8mAJQUP0SvOZ3ioUHhIDZWR8i?v=grid&ref_=cd_ph_share_link_copy

    Note the muddy color of the water. When it does this the muddy water also runs diagonally through the garage (coming in through the dryer vent) so perhaps I really should re-dub it the mud room.

  173. When you’re watching something on DVR how do you tell the person in control of the clickah that they aren’t fast forwarding through the commercials properly? We use “babloop babloop babloopl, an onomatopoeic takeoff on the TiVo sound, despite the fact we’ve never had a Tivo.

  174. “if it were a snake it wouldda bit me”
    My mom and grandmother who grew up near Peoria said this all the time.

  175. I don’t usually see the laundry in the mud room except in remodeled houses. The traditional new england mudroom was often unheated except for leakage from the rest of the house, sort of like an airlock for dirt, snow and cold air.

  176. Ada,

    I was watching some HGTV show about Alaska and they mentioned that a lot of houses have the living space of the second floor with the bedrooms on the ground floor. You’d walk through the various air locks and end up in the living room on the second floor. Then, if you wanted to sleep you’d walk down a separate staircase to the bedrooms. They said it saved +30% on heating costs vs. a regular “lower 48” house.

  177. Oh, see, the only mudrooms I’ve known are fully finished, insulated, and climate controlled, and they’re almost always part of the main footprint of the house (not a separate roof). There’s part of a bedroom above and basement below.

    My grandparents’ Cape style house had an unheated, but dry and carpeted tiny room front and center to the house that extended out with its own gabled roof, and windows on the sides. It held a coat tree and a can for umbrellas. I believe they called it the vestibule.

  178. Here we are:

    I played in there, but I never once remember actually entering the house through there, always through the back/side door into the kitchen and later (post-addition) through the back door into the family room.

    Maybe the hassle of the double entryway discouraged its use.

  179. I believe they called it the vestibule.

    That’s a pre 1980 mud room. A vestibule is a mudroom at the formal entrance to the house. A mud room is the room at the entrance the family uses.

  180. The mudroom would be off the porch to the left that was part of a big addition out back. The vestibule is the thing in front that no one uses. In fact, they lost the key to the deadbolt 15 years ago and can’t actually open the front door.

  181. There are a lot of carports here (ours included) that are more like a garage without a garage door.

  182. Milo, that’s a back porch. And if it was a snake it would have bitten me is in constant use around here.

  183. My mom says crick, and ruff (instead of roof). So do I sometimes. I thought that was highly local.

  184. In the ancestral farmhouse, you took off your dirty rubbers, coats and hats on the back porch after doing chores. In the winter, no one minded if dirty snow melted while you had lunch (coffee and cookie at 10 AM in the morning and 3 PM in the afternoon) or dinner (at noon). In the summer, the back porch was used as the summer kitchen, to avoid heating up the rest of the house. The back porch also included the rough-hewn stairs down to the cellar.

  185. “In the summer, the back porch was used as the summer kitchen, to avoid heating up the rest of the house.”

    Did the appliances get moved?

  186. My husband used to say crick and he was the first person I had ever heard use that variation. Pittsburgh has some strange vocabulary.

  187. Rhett, we also use the tivo sound! And then halfway through the program my DH hands me the remote because I complain about his timing. Growing up (once we got a remote) my family called it a clicker. Over the last 15 years I’ve switched to calling it a remote.

  188. Finn, I think the stove got moved. The refrigerator (once there was a refrigerator and not an icebox) didn’t, I don’t think. Because there was so much canning to do, the stove was used throughout the day from July through probably September.

    I’m actually not sure what they did once they had an electric stove that presumably required 240 V AC. They got electricity and indoor plumbing after WW II. My grandparents had a rental house where my grandfather and his tenant converted half the porch to a bathroom, so the tenant would have indoor plumbing sometime in the 1950’s. My college boyfriend’s father added a second story to their house in the late ’70’s or early ’80’s. Farmhouses aren’t subject to zoning or code requirements.

  189. I did not have a garbage disposal until I moved to the burbs. It is my favorite appliance! I splurged on the disposal when we renovated our kitchen because I use it all of the time. I don’t think my husband ever uses the disposal because he never had a disposal in his house, or apartment until we moved to this home.

    BTW, most NY apartment dwellers will refer to anything that crawls as a bug. I think it is a common term that is misused in this metro area because one of the top news stories in the county today is about a theatre chain that is supposedly infested with various insects and rodents. The headline is all about bugs. I rarely hear anyone in this area say there are too many insects in a home. I did some research and the difference between insects and bugs is interesting, but I am grossed out by the pictures I saw when I googled the words.

  190. I have always said creek, although many people I grew up with said crick. Farmhouses are subject to zoning and building codes just like everybody else.

  191. A sub in Louisiana is po’ boy.

    We call the remote the roller. I used to call soda Coke, but now call it soda in Houston, because a lot of people did not understand that the offer of “do you want a Coke?” meant anything at all to drink.

    My mom still says “wooder” instead of “water”, despite having moved from Philly in the early 70’s. My husband calls the fridge the ice box, despite always having had a refrigerator, and not an ice box. My Louisiana friends invited us to come over because they were going to what sounded liek “ball some corn and shrimp” I didn’t figure out until later they were going to boil some corn and shrimp.

    My favorite regional expression is one my dad used to use – when we were being obnoxious he would tell us we were acting like a smacked ass. I’ve only heard that used a couple of other times, and they were all from people from the same area where he grew up.

  192. HM- Cranston’s weird. That is all. ‘Cause I got nothing on that. I’d say that I’m immune from this weirdness because I’m not an RI-er. But I hail from the land of Weird NJ.

  193. HM- if it makes you feel better… The lead story on the news tonight was about a vote to reduce the length of a 4th of July parade. The original vote to shorten the route cause an uproar. The parade committee voted to overturn the first vote. Apparently it was a slow news day.

  194. And in Denver, the strip of grass is called the Hell Strip, named by a garden columnist in the Denver Post years ago.

    I’ve lived her 15 years and never heard this.

  195. Unrelated to anything, DD’s basketball coach sent out an email today with the upcoming schedule and included this:

    “Wednesday I will have to cut practice short by 30 minutes because I have a gyno appointment. The girls should not worry it is a regular procedure just to make sure everything is okay since I am high risk for cervical cancer. ”

    Why would it occur to someone to include this information?

  196. The laundry room is whatever room the washer and dryer are in. A room where you leave shoes and coats and such is a mudroom. I’ve never seen a washer and dryer in a mudroom, they are always in a location that doesn’t get traffic except specifically to use the machines or get something that is stored in there.

  197. @DD – I diagnose serious boundary issues. Maybe she sees it as encouraging the girls to get appropriate preventative care? Maybe there is some HPV vaccine/safe sex talk going on?

  198. In a lot of houses where I used to live, you enter from your attached garage into the laundry room, which could also serve a mud room function. My parents is pretty large, has a washer and dryer, a decent sized closet for coats and things, and a half bath off it. From there there is another door that leads into the kitchen. Maybe it’s regional.

  199. The Most Texas Interview of All Time

    If a guy answers the interview question with “Well, I was sitting in my swine production class . . .”, then you might be in West Texas.  This is a good example of their regional accent, complete with dialect like “And he hollered at me, come a runnin’”.  Imagine yourself hanging around with people who talk like this all day, and you can see how you might pick up that accent.  Some of the grammar is pretty bad, especially for college students, but perhaps not much worse than many across other parts of the country.

    BTW, I noticed at about 2:50 when the camera goes to the second guy, he subtly slips something out of his shirt pocket to hide it away from view.  If you’re from those parts you’ll know right away it was a tin of chewing tobacco. Maybe he didn’t want his mama to see it.

  200. “wooder” instead of “water”. This is DW’s Mom, all her (MIL’s) siblings/cousins, one of DW’s sisters and her (SIL’s) kids!

    The laundry room is whatever room the washer and dryer are in. A room where you leave shoes and coats and such is a mudroom. Agree completely, DD. On that and the coach’s note. Why not leave it at “Please note: practice will end at 4 on Wednesday.” ? (Readying armor) I think it’s more of a female/women thing to share/wonder about the “why?” of these kinds of things. I know when DW and I discuss having to decline or back out of things, with sufficient notice of course, I’m always of the “We’ll be unable to make it to _______ but I really appreciate being included.” DW will want to say something like “I’m sorry (another female trait for another time) but we can’t make it because we _______________________.”

    definitely “devil beating his wife” for rain/sun at the same time. Got that from Mr. Warner my 5th grade teacher who said it every time that occurred.

    Rocky (from way up thread) Valley Girl, of course is not referring to the valley where Modesto/Stockton etc. are. So, no, you are no more Valley Girl than before.

  201. Denver Dad, that coach cracked me up :)

    Newer (post-1980) houses here have mudrooms between the garage and main house, sometimes with an additional exterior door, often with a half bath. Pre-2000 they also include the washer/dryer in the mudroom.

    After 2000 the fancy houses had second floor laundries.

    If the house was built before 1980 and is not a ranch or split entry, it usually has a vestibule. A few Colonial Revivals from 1930 on had breezeways or three-season rooms between the house and garage, mostly turned into mudrooms now.

    I added a mudroom when we added on to the house, because our house had only a 20″ wide closet at the front entry and that was really not working for a family of five.

  202. We have the washer/dryer in the mud room space just as you enter the door from the garage. So no separate laundry room. This is an old house that has been expanded. This arrangement was made when the new addition to the house was built about ten years ago. Here the older homes have ca rports, that are not fully enclosed but as new owners take over one of the first things they do is build new additions and enclose the car ports making them into garages. The older homes tend to have big lots and these renovated houses look small from the outside but are actually a good size inside (approx. 3,000+ sq ft).

  203. CoC – those guys remind me of Roy D. Mercer. In college, we used to download Napster files of his prank calls.

  204. Crap, so I clicked something and my computer ate my post, dammit.

    I don’t think I have much of an accent (Rocky?) — nothing like MN to beat the Baltimore out of the girl. The quiz seems to agree, giving me a fairly wide swath from South TX up through Nebraska and Indiana (I am apparently not Detroit, Jersey City, or Providence).

    I do have a few colloquialisms from living in different areas that pop up occasionally — Meme, both of those sayings were standard fare growing up, and I still use “if it were a snake, it woulda bit me” all the time (along with “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached”). “Coach” comes out in a very thick MN accent, due to extended use in that part of the country; ‘y’all” is standard fare, unless I am consciously code-switching. I find I tend to mimic fairly unconsciously and naturally, not just in accent but in patterns and behavior — I sort of just fall back in to fast or slow, polite or efficient, etc. Every once in a while, my kids look at me like I just grew a second head.

    @Rhett: duck duck grey duck is what they play in MN instead of (the proper) duck duck goose. My theory is that in Minnesotan, the “oo” sound takes about 17 seconds, so if they played “duck duck goose,” the tagger would be all the way around the circle before the runner could even get up to chase him.

  205. Fred, I agree about the male/female difference (as a generality) for over-explaining.

  206. I also had problems with some of the regionalisms that I knew but never used — like it’s totally a “beer barn,” but we don’t have them and I would never actually say that because I have never used one. Some of these kinds of things I might say if I’m with the right group of people (“crick”), but it would be an affectation in everyday life, so I used my default everyday. Though I still slip into “needs fixin” once in a while — though in my current accent, it sounds more like “needs fixing,” which sort of doesn’t work.

    Also, “spittin image.”

  207. LfB,

    I assume you say “Balimore” without the “t”? People from Toronto do the same thing. If you’re from there you say “Torono.”

  208. True story: When I was about 20, my younger brother and I drove from Texas to Pennsylvania. My brother being the speed demon he was, we got stopped by a policeman in Philadelphia. We literally could not understand what the officer was saying (he spoke too fast), and we nervously explained we were from Texas and were a bit lost. The officer apparently had pity on us and did not give us a ticket. He gave us directions, pointing out the building that “looks a little like The Alamo” to help us get our bearings. I guess if you squint your eyes Independence Hall does look a little like the Alamo.

  209. 2nd floor laundries – I am told that introducing that kind of vibration on a frequent basis into the 2nd floor is going to cause issues long-term. I don’t know if that is a valid concern with current construction techniques, but I know that would be a non-starter for us.

    Another word that gets use in our house is “britches” for pants. I don’t even know that it’s regional, because I don’t hear anyone else use it.

  210. @Rhett — yeah, but more like two and a half syllables — like Bawl-mer, with a half-syllable “uh” in the middle. And Orioles is said like the cookie, with the big open “o” at the end (like eao).

    But that’s the part that got beaten out of me. I say “Baltimore” now, maybe with a little slur toward Ball-uh-mer.

  211. Rhett’s totebaggy college admission link is timely for me as I am working in admission as a file reader. I am a newbie so am spending way too much time on each file, but it’s hard to zip through an essay in 2 minutes knowing how many hours the applicant spent slaving over it. And, based on the teacher and counselor evaluations I’ve seen so far, there are NO lazy, mediocre, average, conceited, mean-spirited, grade-grubbing, or forgettable students. They are all bright, considerate, hard-working, inspirational, and play well with others. No one takes AP courses for the GPA boost — they are all motivated by love of learning.

    It’s like living in Lake Woebegone.

    But it’s actually quite fun, especially since all of my kids are past this step. I am impressed that even though the university admits fewer than 25% of the thousands of applicants, at least one human being reads through each file and the Admissions Director signs off on every blasted one of them. And staff members return every single call from disappointed/angry parents after decision day.

  212. LfB, if your head weren’t attached you would lose it – that was a fave of my mom’s, too. I didn’t realize needs fixin’ or spittin’ image were regional. Knee baby, of course, for the next to youngest, is, but it’s no longer needed for the modern smaller family. DH has a very cultured speaking voice and perfect diction, but when we go to a ball game the boy from Brooklyn comes out as he yells at the players in his professionally trained projection voice that can be picked up by the TV mikes.

    Of course, since we did not live in New York City where such words were common in everyday use we never used all of the old country language terms in public – code switching came naturally to even the youngest family members.

  213. @Scarlett – do the applicants and their essays appear unique or do particular groups appear to have used a template.
    I think it is very interesting to be a reader. You get to see the results (on paper) of all that has gone on in a young person’s life for eighteen years.

  214. MBT, we didn’t put in the second floor laundry because on occasion our washer floods the floor, due to user error (sock trapped in the door).

    No idea whether the engineered joists used now would fail faster from vibration, but everyone should know they fail a lot faster in fires than solid joists. We still used them, but put in extra smoke alarms.

  215. We have a 2nd floor laundry room and I love the location but you can feel the house vibrate on the 1st floor sometimes so I suspect it’s probably not a good thing in the long run.

  216. We’ve had a 2nd floor laundry also, and no problems so far. We have a drain under the washer that should catch any leaks. The location is very convenient.

    Scarlett — So interesting. Any more details that you feel comfortable sharing would be much appreciated. I’ve read about how the process works at a few schools, and the way one seemingly small detail can derail an admission for a borderline candidate.

  217. “Wednesday I will have to cut practice short by 30 minutes because I have a gyno appointment. The girls should not worry it is a regular procedure just to make sure everything is okay since I am high risk for cervical cancer”

    Denver – our assistant sends messages like this all the time when she will be out. TMI

    BTW – a carport is an outdoor space to park your car with a roof over it, but not enclosed. A garage is enclosed.

  218. I am using materials marked CONFIDENTIAL and signed a confidentiality agreement. Sort of like working in national security. But since I’m not naming names or identifying details, no worries.
    So far the college-specific essays (ex why do you want to attend our school?) have been pretty standard, and the word limit on those essays doesn’t give room to display much individuality. I’ve only read a few dozen files, and several things are striking:

    Lots of kids from UMC backgrounds attending elite expensive high schools are pretty mediocre applicants. There is definitely a regression to the mean.

    More than a few letters of recommendation have contained spelling and grammatical errors. From English teachers! At good schools! No wonder the kids can’t write.

    Doing well in the most challenging courses available is REALLY important. Without it, an otherwise stellar application is doomed.

    UMC kids from stable family backgrounds who don’t have a “hook” (legacy, donor, state/national INDIVIDUAL athletic ranking, URM (regardless of SES), music prodigy, founder of national charity) might as well throw the dice at schools. Though I have not been into the inner sanctum deciding the fate of “competitive” applicants.

    GPA and test scores REALLY matter. Unless you are an URM.

    So far, I’m reading files with lower observable credentials. But I have identified an amazing cancer survivor, and two kids who have endured serious family trauma. They really stand out from the standard Totebaggy kids.

  219. Learning about “knee baby” made me think about new terms that we create to serve a particular need. The name of the woman on the GPS voiceover, for example, is “Wanda” (from wander, in case that isn’t obvious)

  220. I’m taking personal offense to all of the comments about the RI accent being trashy. ;)

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