Coke, Pop, Soda: Inside The Regional Dialects Of America | KERA News

Coke, Pop, Soda: Inside The Regional Dialects Of America

Nov 22, 2016

As many of us board planes for the holidays, we’ll run into people from across the country who may not say things the same way we do.

On Think, guest host Lauren Silverman talked about regional dialects with Josh Katz, who writes about them in his book “Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk.”

The KERA Interview

Josh Katz on:

the difference between dialect and accent:

“Dialect basically encompasses accent and then also things like word choice. So, whether you would call it soda, pop or coke is kind of the classic example. Dialect is a broader idea. Whereas accent more relates to how you pronounce words.”

… what the words we use say about us:  

“The way that you speak and the language that you use really gets tied to a person’s sense of identity and their sense of place. Where they grew up and just really who they are. When we listen to these different accents, or these different expressions people use in different parts of the country, it’s really learning about ourselves and also these other places and the people from there, sort of like a window into their lives.”

… the different words used across the country:

“One of the things that just kind of surprised me was the number of terms that I used that I had just assumed were universal or were just spoken throughout the country. Then I realized this is not true at all, and that they were makers of regional dialect. For example, I would call it a tractor trailer. Whereas most people in the country would call it a semi, and in parts of the South it’s an 18-wheeler. For me, when it’s raining and the sun is shining at the same time that is a sun shower. It was only in doing this research that I realized that most people in the country don’t have a word for that at all.”

We also heard from listeners on Twitter about some of the words they use.