Thursday, April 23, 2015

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

These last few letters are always the toughest, and I'm finding that especially true this year. We have so much going on here the last week of April.  Can you believe May flowers bloom next week? 

The saying says so. 

I wonder if whoever came up with that saying knows we had snow flurries mixed with hail here today? April 23rd. Bother. 

So the other day hubs and I were talking, and I said something or other and he laughed at how southern the words sounded. Sometimes my accent gets the best of me.

 T is for Let's Talk

I moved to New Jersey when I was about five years old and lived there all the way through high school. You'd think my speech would be full of 'yous guys' and 'cawfee' but it's not. I headed south to East Tennessee for college and picked up the accent about five minutes later. 

It's subtle, but it's there. At least I think it's subtle. People always ask me where I'm from and when I say NJ they're confused, so maybe not so subtle. 

Besides the East Coast and the southern part of the US, I've also lived in the Midwest and the UK. Oh and Maryland too, which calls itself southern but doesn't feel exactly southern. Doesn't feel exactly northern either which is why I think it needs to be dubbed the Mid-Atlantic. 

Not only do accents change as you move around, but the very words used in our daily interactions with people also vary depending on geography. I remember in grad school working with a mentally challenged speech client who was trying his best to tell me a story involving 'dope'.  

Not drugs, soda. My NJ self thought this East Tennessee gentleman was trying to say the word Coke so I made a big production of the word and back and forth we went before I gave up and he carried on and finished the story anyway.  When I later explained this frustrating interaction to my husband he said, 'yeah, dope...some people use that word to mean soda'.  

You learn something new every day. 

I'm obviously a lover of words as evidenced by the large number I use here on this side of the pond. My speech is filled with little bits of everywhere. No matter where you roam there are words and phrases particular to that part of the globe and it's fun to try them out and maybe keep some for your very own. 

So what are my top two? Of all the words and phrases I've picked up along the way and added to my everyday vocabulary which two do I love the most? 

1. y'all- Best word-contraction-expression ever. Y'all should try it. 

2.  Cheers! And not just a toast to your good health like it means here in America. In the UK this word is often tacked on to the end of a conversation and can mean anything from thanks to okay, best wishes, you're welcome, no problem or goodbye. Such an easy breezy word that makes for a really pleasant way to part company. 

Tell me, if we spoke in person would I say you have an accent? Any favorite words or phrases you've adopted as you've moved around or traveled? Is there an expression common to your part of the country you wouldn't find outside your zip code? 

Enjoy your evening y'all...cheers! 


  1. Joyce, I was born and raised in central Ohio. I never thought we had an accent until I moved to the metro-DC area as a young adult. My word for "soda" was POP. I asked a co-worker (in Maryland) if she had change for pop. I only had a dollar bill and the soda machine took quarters. She asked me "who is pop?". I learned quickly to call carbonated beverages SODA. Florida is a melting pot of people from everywhere. My "accent" has flattened out some, I think. My family in Ohio still sound mid-Western when I go back there. I will say that when I used to spend a week with my Kentucky cousins, when we were still in school, I would come home with a very pronounced southern accent. It is very easy to pick up that lovely southern drall. A fun subject for your "T"!!

  2. My Mum was British and I spent a fair amount of time in the UK when I was younger. Cheers is, as you said, used in a variety of ways. We used Cheerio as well for goodbye. I often find myself using the British term for something and then correcting myself to add the American. I just becomes a habit.

    As far words or phrases that I've picked up, the Chamorro "fan" is one that always made me giggle. My best friend would always add it to requests such as "Go, fan, and bring my handbag" or "Hey, fan, what are you doing?". I'm not sure if it's "fan" or "fen" or what it's short for but it's pretty unique.

  3. I'm sure you would identify me as British and probably a Londoner quite easily from my speech. But you're right, we do adapt and change how we speak and what we say depending on who we're conversing with.

  4. I'm from Virginia, which has several distinct accents: Eastern Shore, Tidewater, and Mountain. I don't think I sound VERY Southern, but people from the north would disagree.
    ~Visiting from AtoZ

  5. I've lived pretty much my whole life in So. California so no accents for me I guess. However my parents were from Nebraska and called soda "pop" so of course we did too until I realized when I was about 12 that everyone else called it soda. I had a friend that had grown up in New York and she called it "soder" haha. My daughter in law grew up in New Jersey however and she has not been able to lose her accent from there. We enjoy giving her a hard time, but honestly I enjoy it. And now that my daughter is in Texas (at least 1/2 of the time, haha) I am around her friends and "y'all" is sooo common it's everywhere. She hasn't picked up the expression...yet that is. She has been there almost 7 years. But I have a feeling her kids will. Interesting post. Enjoy your week-end!

  6. Having been born in Oklahoma, I grew up calling soft drinks "pop." I really like the UK use of the word, "Cheers." I was not aware of that. We should all use it that way. Cheers!

  7. Maryland! That's where I grew up. Now living in Nova Scotia, I may have changed accents. I still use y'all and all y'all! Cheers!

  8. I like your explanation of how Cheers is used in the UK. I have used it that way myself at times. I spent 38 years in the Chicago area and now almost 26 years in California. People do not comment on Chicago accent very often anymore.