When I was a kid, it was routine for someone to ask, "What kind of Coke do you want?" if they were bringing something to drink.

It never occurred to us that we were using a brand name generically.

But that's the way it is in a nation with a wide variety of colloquialisms. Why, I've ALWAYS heard that there are 29 different southern dialects. But since I can't seem to back that up with an exhaustive Google search, let's just say there are a lot.

And so having three different words for a carbonated beverage isn't a big leap. The other two, by the way, are soda and pop.

My cousins out west say soda. And it's always a bottle of pop on The Andy Griffith Show.

An author named Josh Katz wrote a book called Speaking American and in it he analyzes the different ways folks from different parts of the country say the same thing.

Fascinating stuff.

For example, I've always said "lightning bugs," even though it's a little more common to use "fireflies."

Then there's the "you guys" versus "y'all" discussion, but "y'all" is SO southern, there are no surprises here.

Katz points up other words and phrases that didn't occur to me like "sneakers" versus "tennis shoes." Apparently, the latter has the commanding lead.

 

There's also "water fountain" vs. "drinking fountain" vs. (in small outposts) "bubbler."

Bubbler?

"Yard sale" wins big around here because, for one thing, I don't think anybody keeps all their merchandise in the garage anymore. But "garage sale" is a thing elsewhere, as is "rummage sale." And then there's "tag sale" in a tiny little section of southwestern New England. Never before heard that in my life.

I was kind of surprised that "trash can" and "garbage can" weren't more evenly divided. I actually don't think of either of those terms as "regional."

Those great big vehicles with 18 wheels? Yeah, "18-wheelers." Well, if you're in the deep south, they're 18-wheelers. Elsewhere, they're "semis"  or "tractor trailers." I don't think I've EVER used the term "tractor trailer."

The great American melting pot brings with it a wide variety of lingual peculiarities, doesn't it?

Have a good evening, I'm gonna slip on my sneake...I mean, my tennis shoes and go ride my bike.

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