How do you say something's the crawfish's pajamas?
Maps are fun, visual representations of data are more fun and talking about how Southerners are different from the rest of the country - that's the most fun of all.
Today's Internet gem comes from Joshua Katz, a North Carolina State doctoral student who recently published visualizations of Professor Bert Vaux and Scott Golder's linguistic survey that looked at how Americans pronounce words.
So, grab a Dr Pepper and pop open a bag of Fritos and get ready to look at some things you probably know and some things you probably don't. Or, if you're more Southern than Texan, perhaps you'd rather have a cold Barq's root beer and a bag of Zapp's chips. Let's get regional.
Don't confuse your favorite British rock star with the guy who fought for Texas. In this part of the world, we know that Jim Bowie, for whom the Bowie knife is named, pronounced his name differently from the man who wrote "Ziggy Stardust" and "Heroes." And as for that anomaly in Maryland? It's there because Bowie, Md., is also pronounced with an "oo" sound.
Where does "lawyer" rhyme with "foyer?" Lots of places, apparently. Though it's always been "law-yer" in my world. They go to law school, not loy school, right?
Stay inscrutable to others, Bluegrass State. We all know about y'all vs. you guys. But who says "you all?" Nope, not just Northerners doing bad imitations of Southerners. Apparently, Kentucky. Well...OK.
The pajama gap is vast. When I was a child, my Texan mother and I would exchange eye-rolling looks when my Chicago-bred father would refer to my "pajamas," with that terrible, flat vowel. But that's how it's said in the "blue states."
A nut is not a can of peas. But you wouldn't know it to hear those who say 'PEA-can. Sorry, if you say it that way, that's wrong and you don't get to eat any.
Whoa, St. Louis and Milwaukee. The "Coke" vs. soda/pop difference is well documented. But this map makes one thing clear. In St. Louis and Milwaukee, it's definitely, emphatically "soda." If you go to see the Cardinals or Brewers play baseball, don't say "pop" or they'll think you're a Cubs fan from Iowa.
It's a crawdad in the Ozarks. But in Louisiana, it's a crawfish. And if you call it a crayfish, it's possible that you've never eaten one.
It's a hero on Long Island. And a sub, most places. But why the variation in Louisiana and Southern Mississippi? The map doesn't say, but we know...that's where it's a po-boy, of course.
The sun is the devil's rage, the rain is his wife's tears. The map shows the Mississippi-Alabama line as the most common area for this characterization of concurrent rainfall and sunshine. But I learned this from my grandmother, who was from eastern Collin County. And while I appreciate the folkloric aspect of that description, I must admit - "sunshower" is a lyrical word. Nice work, New York.