Regional dialect in the U.S. – Pardon me for my nerdiness

two women talking

“I’m sorry I laughed at you for calling the ginger ale, ‘Coke.'” “That’s alright, Mabel. I’ll forgive you if you pardon me for laughing when you called the spigot a ‘spicket.'”

Like most people who read and write SF and fantasy, I have a tendency towards nerdiness. I watched Star Trek loyally (until I ditched my TV at age 24). I read graphic novels. I watched foreign films as a teen and young adult and snubbed “Forrest Gump” and “Titanic.” And my idea of a fun day out could easily involve a museum, planetarium, or library.

Yes, I sat at the table with the nerds, geeks, and dweebs in high school. At least the social consequences of nerdiness drop drastically at some point during college.

One of the things I studied in college and graduate school happens to be sociolinguistics, and the topic still fills me with geeky glee, so when Discover Magazine directed readers to Joshua Katz’s work at NC State University, I had to give it a look-see.

Katz transfers his data regarding regional speech differences across the U.S. into a fabulous slide show. You can find out all about regional dialects, with the information easily accessible though a series of maps.

As a writer, I can see this site as a resource for creating believable dialogue. As a nerd, I’m just happy to have concrete proof at last for my 5th-grade teacher that I’m not crazy for saying “spicket” instead of “spigot.”

Anyone else out there get their kicks from geeky stuff? Please share in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Regional dialect in the U.S. – Pardon me for my nerdiness

  1. Hello Mrs. Klempner,

    The survey is rather silly, for two reasons. First, my answer to some of those questions is, “I use both terms interchangeably.” Also, my answer to other questions is, “I don’t know”; either I’ve never heard of some of those things or activities or never labeled them.

    Regards, Nathaniel Wyckoff

    Sent from my iPhone


    • The whole thing about statistics vs individual response is that they reflect two different different things. It’s not unsurprising that your individual responses didn’t jive with the study. I think some of it has to do with moving around, where your parents are from, profession, media and other socio/linguisitic influences.

      I laughed when I compared things I said (originally from B’more) and my husband (in SoCal his entire life), because most of the way the two of us talk is pretty similar to what the maps would predict. But there are definitely exceptions. For example, most Americans call that wheat/soy liquid you’d eat with Asian food “soy sauce.” But my father had been stationed in Okinawa during Vietnam, so both my parents called it “shoyu” (and so does my BF who lived many years in Hawaii). And there are a couple things my husband says because his mother’s originally from Egypt and his dad was Canadian.

      I just wished they’d ask if the things you wear at the beach are flip-flops or slippers. And whether you say “cereal” or “cornflakes” for that stuff you eat at breakfast, regardless of the variety.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s