Dictionary de Rachel

Last Saturday, I tweeted and Facebooked a passing thought about how to pronounce “pajamas”, thinking that most people would agree with me.

They did not.

And I learned something that day: more people should talk like me.

Okay maybe not. But I did decide that I should at least list out the rest of my speech idiosyncrasies for you all to mock.

Let’s start with the original issue at hand…

Pajamas should rhyme with Alabama, never llama. Unless you’re talking about Obama’s Pajamas, then it would be impossible to not make it rhyme. But then again, who has the right to discuss the president’s nightclothes? But the thing is, saying Pajama in that wrong way does something peculiar to my jaw (an unhinging?) and makes me feel like yawning. Which, I suppose, would be rather convenient…

My defense on this issue was going to be that I preferred the quirky Australian Cartoon Bananas in Pajamas significantly over the obnoxious book Llama Llama Red Pajama, but then I listened to the theme song of Bananas in Pajamas and realized that Australians pronounce pajamas and bananas to rhyme with llama.


Let’s move on.

It’s a washcloth. Never a washrag. Because who wants to wash with a rag? Then it’d become a filthy rag, and we all know what that is.

(Cloth Vs. Rag is the recurring argument that Chris and I have every time bathe the kids. Which thankfully isn’t that often.)

“Buggy” is the correct way to pronounce “shopping cart.” Because shopping cart is a total waste of breath! That’s like, an entire syllable longer than it needs to be.

It’s y’all, y’all. Not you all. Not you guys. Definitely not your all. Never Yous Guys. Why can’t everyone recognize the superior efficiency of y’all?

I don’t wear trousers, slacks, blouses, bodices, shifts, or frocks. I wear pants, shirts, and dresses.

I also don’t wear drawers or britches.

(But I might refer to Noah’s every now and then.)

Tump is a word. (Even if it does have a red squiggly line under it when typed.) Tump means “to spill or turn over, usually accidentally and often by a child,” and is an important part of the southern lexicon.

We don’t drink soda, pop, cola, or soda pop. We drink coke. Even if it’s a Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or Ginger Ale. It’s still coke.

Chester Drawers – My Dad kept his clothes in these when I was a kid. He might have been saying “Chest of Drawers”, but down here that sounds a lot like chester drawers, so I assumed his drawers were made out of chester wood, which I now realize is not actually a thing.

I carry a purse, not a handbag.

My grandmother, however, used the term “pocketbook” and confused me endlessly as a child. I always expected her purse to look like miniature reading material.

It’s a bathroom. Not a washroom, not a restroom, not a powder room, never a water closet, and certainly not a lavatory.

(Because lavatory sounds like there are experiments going on in there. Experiments that I want to know nothing about.)

Crayon has two syllables. Although when I was little, I totally learned that crayon was a homonym with crown. In fact, I assumed for years that those bible verses about getting “Crowns in Heaven” were actually talking about a Crayola Big 64 Box.

(And the 120 Crayon Tower for Billy Graham.)

Lawyer should be pronounced like it’s spelled. Law. Yer. Never like a loiterer.

Syrup should never seer up. It rhymes with stirrups. But don’t think too long about syrup-covered stirrups.

Pecan should be pronounced puhcon. They’re not peecans, puhcans, or peecons.

Roof should rhyme with aloof. And so should poof. The Snooki pronunciation of poof is not a sound that exists naturally in the human experience.

Route should rhyme with drought. Not boot. Unless referring to Route 66, the only exception.

I go to the grocery store, not the supermarket, and definitely not the “grocer” (that sounds like grosser.)


Sometimes, I realize the errors of my pronunciation and work hard to fix them. These are words that I’ve consciously adjusted over the years:

Illinois – I used to pronounce the s, but I have since dumped it, after being mocked by an Illinoisian. (Illini? Illinian?)

Anyway – I also used to add an s here – “anyways.” That one took a while to jettison, but I don’t miss it.

Orange – This is the worst word I ever butchered. As a kid, I said “are-eeeenje.” I recall this with humility every time I have to mention that color.

Salmon – I know how to properly pronounce this fish. However, it is impossibly difficult to form the word with my mouth. But I manage to muddle through very carefully.


And finally, there are a few words that I regularly swap up my pronunciation – because what’s life without whimsy?

Either – Some days it’s eether. Others it’s eyether.

Theater – The “a” has multiple variations of long, short, and medium pronunciation.

Caramel – Sometimes I care, sometimes I car.

Caribbean – This word legitimately does have two variations depending on context, right?

(Think “Going to the Caribbean” versus “Pirates of the Caribbean.”)

Data – I usually go with the long a Data to pay proper homage to ST:TNG, but if I’m feeling especially intelligent, I’ll short my a.

Niche – I hate saying “neesh”, even though I know it’s correct. It sounds so ridiculously 90210. So I say “nitch” anytime I think I can get away with not being mocked.


Your turn – weigh in. Tell me how wrong I am.

129 thoughts on “So Maybe I Talk Weird.

  1. The city Mobile,AL and a baby mobile are pronounced COMPLETELY different. The city is “Mo-beel” and the baby toy is a “mo-ble”

  2. Other than the entire pajama issue, which I solve by saying PJ’s, I cannot find a single word or phrase on this list that is wrong or weird. I tried to find the problem as I read these but each example was described exactly as my brain and mouth say them. I say a title change to “Correctly Speaking with Me” is in order. :)

    1. Same here! Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me; I live in Nashville, so I’m not too far from Birmingham. Also, I say jammies for pajamas, and that solves my problem. =)

  3. You are absolutely correct on pajamas – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.. Most of the rest are correct as well – except I’m from the north so we don’t y’all. I can totally see your point on that one but I would feel odd starting to use it now. Also – we drink pop here. That was good for an Abbott & Costello-like conversation when I tried to order it in the south from a waitress I could barely understand in the first place!. It does drive me crazy when people add the s to Illinois and Des Moines, and around here – anyways is for hicks or gangsters (the birds in “Bolt”) so it’s good you changed that because you just don’t seem like the gangster type.

    One more question – how do you say creek? Around here it’s crick.. Makes no sense grammatically but there it is. Keeps things interesting, I guess!

    1. The creek/crick was the word I was going to bring up but you beat me to it. I grew up in upstate NY and nowhere else I’ve lived since says crick. And yet saying creek just doesn’t roll of the tongue right even after almost 25 years away from my fellow “crick” say-ers.

      1. It may just be me, but a creek is wider than a crick, Creek you have to jump over. Crick you can step across. – I’m from Indiana.

  4. Hey we talk alike! Well, except for “y’all” and “tump”. I am a Yankee after all. But pajamas? Definitely!

    1. Alabama, pajama, and banana do rhyme. Llama should not.

      pajama’s second syllable should sound like “am” – I am going to put on my pajamas.
      NOT like “alms for the poor.”

      Does that help or further confuse the issue?

  5. As expected, since we hail from the same place, everything is the same with me. Except pajamas. I rhyme with Llama. Sorry. AJ says it like you. And washrag. I am sure that passed down from my grandparents. (Sometimes I say washcloth, but my first inclination is rag.) I will probably run into you at the grocery store when I have my buggy full of arr-anges, cokes, CARE-a-mel., SUR-up, PUH-cahns, and sam-mon. But If my Grandma is with me, we may have SAL-mon instead.

  6. Wow. I agree with you on almost all of these… but Pajama. In my world (which is South Carolina) pajama definitely rhymes with llama, mama, drama. (ps I love the way you called it out as an “obnoxious book”)

    But I pronounce Pecan as PEECAN unless I’m eating ice cream and then it becomes Butter Puhcon.

  7. This cracked me up! I’m from Louisiana, so like you, I say most of these same words and phrases as you do, correctly of course! Another one that I never knew did not exist outside of the south is “fixing to”…I’m fixing to go to the grocery store and put my coke in the buggy! :)

  8. I’ll respectfully disagree with you on handbag.

    I don’t like the sound of, purse.

    Pocketbook sounds like something a Charles Dickens character would tote.

    But, “handbag’ – – there’s something a little more upscale sounding about it and even if it’s from The Dollar Store, it *sounds* chic.

    One you didn’t mention is, “.ROOF” Does your version rhyme with hoof or goof?

    1. I understand the “purse” thing – I can see that if I overthought the word too much it’d start to sound as unsavory as “moist.”

      And my roof definitely rhymes with goof.

    2. Roof, hoof and goof all rhyme in my world… a long ‘o’ sound. I have heard people say roof with a short o, but not often and I’m not sure where that accent comes from.

  9. For me, pajama rhymes with llama.
    But I agree with you on everything else, I think, even the flexible words. And I can’t STAND to call a washcloth a washrag. (shudder)
    Oh! and just yesterday I was typing an email to someone about some furniture, and wasn’t sure whether to type out “chester drawers” or “chest of drawers”. The person I was sending it to was family and very southern, but I still was stuck in my dilemma for a good couple of minutes. How did I solve it? Like this: “It includes the chester drawers (or chest of drawers, whatever they’re really called).”

  10. Oh, I just thought of another word that is apparently up for debate: oil. For most of my life, I pronounced it “oy-l” (not exactly 2 syllables, but almost). Upon meeting and marrying my husband, he convinced me that the “southern” pronunciation was “ohl”. So I was with most of the elders of our church one day for a prayer thing, and said “ohl”, and do you know they LAUGHED at me??? Our elders, laughed at me!!! So do I submit to my husband or my elders on this one? It has now become almost a spiritual dilemma for me…..

    1. TOO FUNNY! But I say your husband is correct, it is OHL. That word crossed my mind as I was reading this post. I work for an oil company and answer the phone. Every time my husband calls me and I answer, he makes fun of the way I say OHL as he pronounces with 2 syllables. So the debate continues…..

    2. This makes me so happy. You definitely have a problem there.
      I think that’s one of my flip-flopping words. I can go either way. But considering your line of work, I think you need to work through your angst and settle on one really soon. ;-)

  11. I used to say washrag. We had some yankee friends who asked me to stop using that word in front of their 2 year old daughter. Their daughter began using the word washrag instead of washcloth and my friend was horrified. After that I tried to remember to use washcloth which really does sound better.

  12. I’m originally from the Pittsburgh area, so we say YINZ (not y’all.) “What are yinz having for lunch?” Even though I live in FL now, saying y’all just doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m still a yinzer.

    My FIL (also originally from the Pgh area) says OHL but everyone else I know says oy-ul (or whatever.)

    My family – but not I! – have always said WARSH instead of wash. Doesn’t matter if it was for a cloth, rag, state, or president. But my husband – including him – say it WOISH. I crack up inside every time. “Hey, I’m going to woish the cars today.”

    I’ve never heard of tump until today.

    1. I like Yinz!! That is a perfectly reasonable substitution for y’all. It’s succinct, original, and effective. It might be The Word of The Day.

      1. Does anyone know where the pronounciation of wash became woish? I’m from a German family living in Nebraska and I thought everyone said it the way I do until my 8 year old grandson laughed at the way I say woish. He said no one says it that way.

    2. Oh my goodness, Pittsburghese is just as complicated as Alabamia ! I am an AL native transplanted to PGH for the better part of my growing up. I couldn’t ever get into YINZ. I kept saying y’all and they kept calling me the Shake and Bake girl. And don’t even think about asking ‘what kind of cokes you sell’ it’s like you’re trying to speak a foreign language!

  13. You and I must have the same dictionary because I agree with everything you said. Though my nephew loves the Llama Llama books. It annoys me when I go out to eat and order a coke and the waitress says is Pepsi ok, I mean always say yes because I don’t care the brand name I just call them all coke.

    And I would like to add when I order tea I mean sweet Tea.

  14. I am a southern girl, but I lived in NY for four years. They take offense to the use of fixin’ to and cut off (instead of turn off). But the one they disagreed with the most was our use of the term ‘tennis shoes’ for any and all athletic footwear. We lived in the country and did not have access to tennis courts, clubs or even ESPN for that matter, and if we had we would have worn the same shoes we did for all other athletic activities. The folks up north would always comment ‘I didn’t know you played tennis’, I admit I caved and now just use the generic term ‘sneakers’ for all my athletic shoes!

  15. Just to confuse you a little — the “s” is definitely not pronounced on Illinois (Ill-a-noy) but there is a suburb named Des Plaines that is pronounced WITH the esses — “dez plainz”.

    I grew up saying soda in the Philly area, and got a lot of weird looks when I moved to Indiana, where it’s pop. It’s also pop in Chicago, but “soda” doesn’t get quite as many weird looks.

    As I’m sure you know, though, most of this is just regionalisms as opposed to real pronunciation problems :)

  16. Oh, and it is totally called the “inner-net,” there is no mysterious T in “internet.” I can’t tell you how much ragging my hubby got from his online buddies in Australia about that one.

    1. I can see that! I’ve had to say internet several times in my head today to see if I pronounce a “t” or not. I don’t think I do, or at least it’s very soft.

      1. I’m from New Zealand and I pronouce the t. But I don’t actually say ‘internet’ very often – usually it’s just google, or teh interwebz or something else silly.

  17. I’m a Yank, but living a good 1/3 of my life in the south (GA and AL) I’ve come to interchange some of my vocabulary/pronounciations – ya know, when in Rome and all?

    But I’ve got a correction and a question – you said “I also don’t wear drawers or britches. (But I might refer to Noah’s every now and then.)” ; did you mean drawls as in undergarments?

    And for my question – I know you don’t do this much (heck, I don’t either); but do you “bathe” or “bayz” your children? I hear a whole lot of the latter down here and it sounds hilarious!

  18. I generally agree, however, as a lawyer I must insist that it is “loi-yer” not “law-yer” Also solved by just saying attorney, but that sounds a little stuck up.

    I also use the word slacks, blouse etc, but only for very specific fashion items. In my head, a blouse is a thin, often silk, top that is always dressy. Slacks or trousers are dressy pants. I got a little more sensitive about the words pants since my friend Angelica got mocked by her hotel in England when she complained that their dry cleaners lost her favorite pair of pants. They didn’t understand why she sent underwear to the dry cleaners and why she was so upset.

    1. But attorney has it’s own problems. Down here, we say “atturney”, but I’m pretty sure you probably say “attORney.” So one way or the other, we are at an impasse as to your profession.

  19. Darnit, where did that ninja “O” jump in my typing of pronunciation? I blame the cover art of “Dictionary de Rachel” with it’s ninja “U”, LOL!

    1. Ack! How did that happen? I’ll blame…I don’t know what I’ll blame but I bet my friend Jamie would blame my font. Stupid Cursive Typefaces.
      It’s fixed now. :-)

  20. Apparently Alabama-English and Kentucky=English are fairly similar–I’m with you on everything except the llama pajamas, which I’ve solved by referring to them as “jim-jams.” (Husband and I heard it on one of our BBC shows and thought it was utterly charming.) My Granny also said pocketbook, and I’m not sure how old I was before I realized that not everyone called it that.

  21. What about boil? As a Floridian with Yankee parents, I say boil as boy-l unless I’m talking about peanuts, then it’s bold peanuts.
    And what do you call those plain stretchy bands for ponytails? Unless they’re fabric covered (ugh, flashbacks to my childhood), I call them ponies. They’re definitely not rubber bands and thank goodness they’re not scrunchies.
    Yes! All soda is coke, even if I would rather drink Pepsi.

    1. Yes, I think that I say present tense boil as boy-l, but past tense always is bulled.

      And, as inefficient as it is, they’re “ponytail holders”.

  22. Born, bred and raised in the glorious South my whole life:

    1. Pajama rhymes with Llama. I’m so sorry

    2. Definitely a washcloth.

    3. Buggy. All the time, especially at “Walmark” like my Nanny used to say.

    4. I pride myself on my use of “y’all.” I say it at least 800 times a day.

    5. I wear pants, shirts, and dresses. Amen.

    6. Are there actually people who think “tump” isn’t a word? I tump things over all the time.

    7. All Coke. All the time.

    8. I actually say “dresser” when referring to the furniture that our pants and shirts live in.

    9. I carry a purse, not a handbag, but my Granny carried a pocketbook.

    10. It’s a bathroom.

    12. Crayon definitely has two syllables and is pronounced, “Cray-yawn.”

    13. Lawyer needs to sound as Southern as possible, and you need to have a mental image of Matlock when you say it.

    14. Syrup is “Sir-up” for me.

    15. I say, “Pah-cahn” for Pecan. Is that right?

    16. How else would you say “roof?”

    17. I only say “route” if I’m ordering a “Route 44” from Sonic.

    18. I go to the grocery store and by that I mean Walmart.

    19. Illinois looks ridiculous and whoever spelled it should have left the s off the end and spelled it Illinoy.

    20. I add an “s” to anyway when I say it, but not when I spell it.

    21. Orange . I”ve got nothing, other than it bothers me that this word has no rhyming words.

    22. Salmon – “Sam-On” patties are the best thing ever!

    23. It’s eyether.

    24. It’s the-A-ter.

    25. It’s always Care-A-Mel. Always.

    26. Jeremy is constantly mocking me for how I pronounce “pinch.” I normally don’t have a very pronounced southern drawl, but for some reason, that word kicks my butt and it comes out pee-nch. Every.Single.Time.

    27. This is probably the longest comment I’ve ever left anyone. You should feel honored.

    1. My Mom had a dresser (it had a mirror on it and was longer than it was wide.) My Dad had chester drawers (no mirror, taller than they were wide.)

      And although I know a lot of peenchers, I myself am a pincher.

  23. I know a lot of us southerners run words together to create new ones, but one that I do is pretty bad and I’ll admit to it. Instead of saying “a while ago” in a statement, I say “Awolago” (Uh-wal-a-go). Am I by myself on that one?

  24. I have never listened to Snooki talk do i don’t know how she pronounces “poof”, but i imagine it is something like “puff” (complete w duck lips). I change my pronunciation if pecan every other day. Took me a minute to figure out what ST: TNG meant. And if this post looks like it has several really odd spelling errors, it’s because my phone is giving me grief.

  25. So what if you want a Pepsi? You say Pepsi coke? Or Coke Pepsi? You are a beacon of efficiency, so don’t you think calling it just sprite, or just Pepsi, or mountain dew, or whatever would be more efficient? Also the waitress wouldn’t have to clarify. Besides, Coke and Pepsi are competing companies. It’s, like, sacrilege, or something to marry the two. (tongue in cheek, btw. This is an important debate that will decide the pronunciation futures of generations to come).

    1. If you want a Pepsi, you ask for a Coke (assuming the restaurant will only have one or the other, and they’re all called coke.)
      However, if you want a Dr. Pepper or Sprite, you ask for a Dr. Pepper or Sprite. But in general terms, they all fall under the umbrella of coke. So, a typical conversation at someone’s house would go…

      “Do y’all want a coke?”
      “Sure! What do you have?”
      “Well, I have Coke Zero, Sprite, and Diet Mountain Dew.”

      …Yes, they might not even have ACTUAL coke.

      And they’re all called Coke because Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta, so there are very few Pepsi Loyalists down here – most people only drink that when it’s the only choice.

  26. This is so funny! In my FCHD class today my professor asked the out of state people if speech was weird coming into Utah, because we’re really lazy with our words and say “Oh my heck” and leave out the letter “T” in a lot of words (mainly mountain). But I agree with most of your pronunciations. And I love the word y’all, but it never catches on in Utah, so no one else says it. I love this post so much!

  27. I agree with most of it. I tend to change the word I’m saying if it sounds wrong or I suspect I’ll be made fun of. And as a Southern raised but Pacific NW resident I go back and forth like you would with a foreign language. Here I’ll add soda to a shopping list but there I’ll order from their list of cokes. (Oh and I’ve totally taught B to say buggy!) Speaking of, the regional difference of vocabulary that shocked me was BBQ. A friend told me he barbecued this weekend and I got excited and asked what he did. He got confused as to why I was grinning about throwing hamburgers on the grill. Grilling and barbecuing are different!! Barbecue is slow cooked meat or it can be an outdoor party (similar to picnic) but you did not barbecue this weekend if all you did was grill burgers. But my problem is how to say “ruin” and “coin”….evidently, I say them both wrong. =(

  28. I enjoyed this post (and so many others that you’ve written!) I was raised in the Memphis area and now live near Austin. I have had so many arguments over pronunciation. I agree with most of what you said. One you didn’t mention that my friends point out frequently is the way I pronounce naked (neck-kid.) :)

  29. I grew up in Texas and pronounce most of them the same as you. (Though I just say “cart”…one less syllable than buggy, even.) My husband’s from New Jersey, and my biggest pet peeve is that he says “standing on line”. It’s “in line”! It’s not like there’s a line drawn on the ground that they are all standing on. It’s weird.

    1. Your husband’s “standing on line” reminds me of a pet peeve – we have “Drive Throughs” here, but at Wells Fargo, they have “Drive Ups.” SO annoying!

  30. This is fun!

    I’m a Paj-AH-ma girl. When I first read your post on FB, I was all….what? How can a true Southerner pronounce pajama like banana? But I see that it’s pretty mixed, so I’ll refrain from (too much) judgment. : )

    Also, what about “gala?” Has anyone brought that one up? I’m a big-time switch-hitter on that one.

  31. You go right ahead and have stirrups on your packages. I’ll pass and stick with seer-up. Otherwise (mostly) agree :). You should do a post on your mom’s pronunciations of some words. I’m always highly entertained (tortilya is my favorite).

  32. Maybe you already saw this or somebody already commented on it (I’m not sure I have the patience to read all sixty of the above comments), but there was a nationwide study done on this very thing! Business Insider did an article on it a few months ago (found here: http://www.businessinsider.com/22-maps-that-show-the-deepest-linguistic-conflicts-in-america-2013-6?op=1 ) with some cool maps of how different parts of the country say many of the words/phrases you’ve mentioned. It’s super interesting. Also, you can follow a few links in the article to the original study and look at all the study questions along with a percentage break-down of answers for each state. I blogged about it a few months ago, so if you’re ever bored and looking for an Idaho/Utah perspective on “proper” speech, feel free to peruse: http://consider-the-heart-of-life.blogspot.com/2013/06/differing-dialects.html

  33. oh man, I just moved back to Boston (born and bred) from Dublin (Ireland, not Ohio, or NH). I’m pretty sure I pronounced the majority of things the opposite of you to begin with, but it’s gotten even worse now that a whole bunch of hiberno-english has slipped in. For example, I call a shopping cart a shopping trolly now (or my kids correct me), the most cringe-worthy difference in Irish English is the bathroom (correct word) is called the toilets. Ugh, like “I need to use the toilet.” “can you tell me where the toilets are?” Aaack, makes me want to run screaming every single time. I have adapted the use of y’all, because you are correct, it is superior to all the alternatives. Problem? It sounds totally out of place in my New England mouth;( I picked it up from a Texan friend, I still use it though. Another good word? “twas. As in anything answered in the affirmitive where the question started with “was. . .” “was that building always that color? “”twas.” etc. . . Language is so fun. After my year in Ireland, I’m learning not to be such a grammar snob and embrace the regionality of English (now French is another story, don’t even try to tell me that what they’re calling French in Canada is in any way related to what actual French people speak. . .)

  34. I had a pocketbook until college. One day I left my pocketbook in the college cafeteria and went back looking for it with my friend (she’s from MI and I’m fom NJ). I asked her to help me look for my pocketbook and she kept asking me the most bizarre questions about it. I described its appearance to her but she just seemed more confused with my answers to her questions. Finally she asked, “what IS a pocketbook, is it like a Bible?” That’s when I realized she had no idea I was looking for my purse. That was also when I started referring to my pocketbook as a purse.

  35. I totally agree with your version of how you say pajama. That’s the way I’ve always said it too. LOVE LOVE LOVE your reference for Bananas in Pajamas and I definitely clicked on your hyper link to go watch the theme song with giddy glee :) I don’t sing the song the way they do in my head, but then again I think I watched a different version?? And I have it stuck in my head like this ‘Bananas in pajamas are coming down the stairs, bananas in pajamas aren’t wearing underwear’ why oh WHY do I have it stuck like that in my head?? lol. My only thought would be ‘that’s what children do’ ? HAHAHA. I commonly mispronounced the word ‘antenna’ as in I would say an-tan-uh. Until one day when someone said something about the way I was saying it and I switched over to an-ten-uh. It personally bugs me when people say ‘acrosst’. Funny post!!

  36. My name is Beverly… I’m 38… and 3 of my siblings *still* call me “Berv”. Drives me crazy!

    I live in Arkansas, and carbonated beverages are just called sodas here, or by the actual name. Except for my brother, who calls them ” so-dees”. My hubby is from Ohio, so he calls it “pop”. Weirdo.

    Here’s another funny for you – my in-laws (from Ohio) pronounce words like “push” as “poosh”! “Bush” is “boosh”!

    Oh, and how do you say, “realtor”? People here say “real-uh-ter” and it makes me cringe every time!

  37. Your post made me shake my head in understanding. I agree with every one of your points…born and raised in Atlanta, we are on the same wavelength. One of the biggies in my family is fixin. As in, girls in the South don’t have PMS, they have FTS-fixin to start.

    There are no other drinks but coke and tea. And the tea is definitely sweet! Thanks for brining Southern speak to the forefront of the interwebs!

  38. I was surprised on how many I agreed with, being from Montana and all. Around here it is definitely crick…mocking might occur if you use creek. You guys not y’all although y’all is not mocked. Coke is in a red can, it and everything else is pop. We laugh at people who say He-leeeen-a, it is Hell-ena. I had never heard of a buggy, always just a cart. Same with Chester drawers, all are dressers. And tump is an entirely new word to me as well.

    What about bag? Pronounced bag like cat or bag like take? I say long A bag. And have you ever heard “spendy” to refer to something as expensive?

    1. We refer to your city as Hell-ena. But ours is He-leeeen-a.

      Bag is DEFINITELY like cat. Bag with a long A would sound foreign! And nope, spendy is used to refer to someone who spends a lot of money.

  39. I love stuff like this! I had a linguistics class in college where we mapped pronunciations across the country. It was fascinating. I find it interesting that you pronounce pajamas like I do because my mom says pajama like llama and it drives T and I CRAZY! I assumed it was a leftover remnant of her deep southern heritage since, to this day, she still has a slight twang. Ya’ll is SO much easier and I much prefer it but people look at me like I’m loony when I say it. But You Guys’es is totally awkward to say when referring to something. They say Buggy in Canada, is that a southern thing too? T and I have a argument about cart vs. basket when referring to your “buggy”. :) I always wonder what you get when you order a coke from a restaurant? Do they automatically know if you happen to feel like a Sprite? Or Dr. Pepper? They must have special powers. :)

    1. A lot of people have said that pajahmas is the southern way to say it – so maybe I’m the weird one!

      And if you want a Sprite or Dr Pepper, you order that. They’re just all referred to as coke in a grand setting, such as “I’ve got cokes – would you like one?” “Yes!” “Okay – I’ve got Sprite, Coke Zero, or Dr Pepper. What do you want?”

  40. Gotta be honest here — I’m devastated that you don’t love Llama LLama. At least you got the y’all thing right. ;)

    1. The first one I ever got (from Dolly Parton’s now defunct reading club) was “Llama Llama Mad at Mama.” So that one soured me to the whole franchise, and I’ve never quite recovered.

      1. Just an FYI… we still get books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. I think what happened is our local Junior League (who sponsored the DPIL) ran out of funds for continuing the book club and they suspended it for a bit. I’m not sure who the current sponsor is, maybe the Junior League again, however, it is one membership per family now vs per child has I was told it had been back in the day.

        I disliked Llama Llama Mad at Mama too. Why would you put that idea into a child’s head? I like the rhyming of Llama Llama, but those books just aggravate me.

        1. How did my name get misspelled??

          P.S. I agree with your pronunciations, except for pajamas, mine rhymes with llama.

  41. Moving from New Zealand to England, the main one I’ve had to train myself into is that ‘pants’ are underwear, not trousers like they are in NZ. So ‘I like your pants’ has quite a different meaning in the UK!

    I’m also training myself to say ‘data’ with a short ‘a’ but the rest of the different terminology, I’m pretty much ignoring. I WILL NOT say ‘ice lolly’ instead of ‘iceblock’ and I WILL say ‘lolly’ to mean ‘sweets’ or candy. I thought every large vehicle in the UK was a lorry, but I’ve discovered that they do say ‘truck’ for the big trucks – a lorry is specifically a smaller truck.

    I’m clinging to ‘yoghurt’ with a ‘yoh’ sound at the start and ‘Pahstah’ instead of Pasta with short ‘a’s. Those two have been a long running dispute with my husband as he was raised by English parents.

    I think you’d probably struggle to understand me if we met – I did end up having to put on an American accent a few times when people couldn’t understand me in Canada. I don’t think you guys get exposed to the variety of accents that we did on TV i.e. various kinds of English and American, Canadian, South African, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Australian, Pacific Island, Maori, Indian etc.

  42. This is so fun. I love linguistics. I agree with everything but pajamas (I even say “jahhhmies”) and wash rag. In fact, I usually just say rag. I totally agree with coke for everything and puh-cahns. Lived in Nashville my whole life so we’re pretty similar. Ya’ll is definitely the only way to address a group of people. But it is only plural. I hate when people on tv try to make fun of the southern accent by making someone say ya’ll to one person. I have never heard someone from the south refer one person as ya’ll.

  43. True story: I totally grew up thinking it was Chester Drawers too. I didn’t even make it through the rest of the list (yet) because I was too excited to finally know someone else who pronounced it correctly!

  44. If they wanted it to be Neesh, they should have spelled it neesh. As it is spelled niche, it only makes sense that it be pronounced that way. Also, neesh sounds stupid, and if it doesn’t get you funny looks, it should.

    Quinoa is another of those words that bugs me immensely. There are a lot of words that I saw in writing long before I ever heard anyone say them so the written word is pronounced in my mind like it is spelled (duh) and then the spoken word is either unrelated, like keenwa, or I might manage to mesh them together somehow, like ors’ de’ ouvres.

  45. I had to correct my husband’s mispronunciation of “supposedly.” He insisted on saying “suposeBly,” which drove me absolutely insane. I finally grabbed a dictionary and dared him to find a B in that word. It still took a couple years after that for it to finally sink in… but I think we’re there.

    My mom always told me growing up that you can get very far in the world if you can speak well. People will assume you are intelligent if you use proper pronunciations & grammar- a good first impression. I’ve always remembered that, and it’s proven true almost every time. (It’s part of the reason I can’t stand rap music- it’s like nails on a chalkboard listening to someone butcher the English language)

  46. This was so entertaining! I grew up in NE and my husband is from CA (and we have lived in TX and WA). It is always fascinating to see how accents and colloquialisms are different from place to place. I would have never realized that I grew up pronouncing ‘roof’ and ‘wolf’ incorrectly (in my mind they rhymed, i know, super-weird!) if my hubby hadn’t pointed it out. But, he says aunt and Nevada with an ‘ahh’ sound which sound really strange to me! :)

  47. Well you know how I speak and my accent. No hope at this age. The End. I am loving reading all the comments, so entertaining how we talk. And yes, red has three sylables.

  48. My mom still bears the scars from being mocked when she first came to this country and tried to pronouce Illinois and Detroit. Now we all use the French proninciation (Ill-in-wah, Deh-twah?) just to tease her.

    Unfortunately I got so used to it that it sometimes slips out in normal conversation and I look really weird.

    I’ve mostly avoided Bostonian English, though it also slips out now and then. For example, “Potty” and “Party” both occasionally become Pahty, though preferably not in the same sentence. Other than that, pretty much take your list and switch “never” with “always” and there I am. >.< Although I also agree on the superiority of y'all.

    And are you people the reason I keep getting Pepsi whenever i ask for Coke???? Gah!

  49. My husband is from up north. I am born and bred here in Alabama. When I read your email, I had to forward it to him with a note that said to read it because I could have written it. We actually had a discussion once as to whether or not “tump” was a word. I have proof now that I was correct :) Thanks!

  50. I grew up mostly in Kansas, a little in Washington (state). I pronounce about half of the words the same as you and half differently and after spending a week in Maine, I’m not really surprised how anybody pronounces anything any more. There are NO r’s on the end of words up here and only sometimes in the middle.

    A funny story (to me anyway) is explaining to a woman who was 28ish at the time how to pronounce swords. She was heavily pronouncing the w and once we pointed out that two was pronounced too and not t-woo, she changed it. But it BLEW HER MIND.

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