Regional Differences….and Memes

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A little over a year ago, I watched the ending of “The Sopranos”.

Here’s how the last scene of the last show went down: Tony was the first to arrive at the restaurant which was just some low key Jersey burger joint first. He sat down at a table large enough to accommodate his family of four. We watched Tony as he watched for his family. To kill time, he perused the selections listed in the table-side juke box and ultimately, he picked Journey’s mind-numbing effort, “Don’t Stop Believing” featuring Steve Perry and those ear piercing high notes of his that I swear, were achieved ONLY through serious nad squeezing.

The Family Soprano arrived one by one and shortly after impudent Anthony the Younger arrived, a basket of onion rings was delivered. Tony encourages his wife and boy child to dig in because he “ordered one for the table”.

Fifty-one seconds later, the screen went black and the Journey song stopped abruptly. There was silence and with all the mayhem, bloodshed, gratuitous violence, cussing, drugs…plus all the badda bing-badda boobs and ass that HBO mustered in the series’ six year run, it was over; ended; done and so was the Soprano franchise. There was no hoopla; no explanation.

“Fini” occurred amid a slew of adverbs such as abruptly, darkly, quietly and faithful viewers were forced to come up with their own conclusions on what really happened.

Wanna know what really happened?

Unemployment happened.

A whole handful of Hollywood’s best Italian-American actors found themselves out of work.

Or as they’d say in Jersey, “out of woik”.

I don’t want to get off on a rant here because I merely included the Sopranos riff–not to harass show creator David Chase about the lame ass ending some 13 months after the fact–but rather, to introduce the gist of this post. The point I want to make focuses on what Tony said when the basket of onion rings arrived. Once again, he said he “ordered some for the table”.

I’d never heard that expression before. Even so, I immediately knew what he meant, but it got me thinking about regional differences in the way we speak and how we reference things. Here in Texas, we don’t use that expression; at least, not as a rule. That’s not to say it’s never said down here. It’s just that I’ve never heard it before.

We also say “get in line” or “We need to stand in line for tickets”.

In the northeast, people there “stand on line”.

In Texas and also in a good part of the southeastern United States, we call all soft drinks “Cokes”. It has become (colloquially speaking) a generic reference for every carbonated beverage known to man–past or present.

For example, you’re in Austin or Mobile or Decatur, GA and someone asks if you want a Coke, you’d say yes and the person making the query would then ask what kind of Coke you’d like to have and you’d reply Dr. Pepper.

Silly? Perhaps. Hayseed? To the unfamiliar yes, but it makes sense to us. Perhaps it’s because Coke is HQ’d in Atlanta. I’m not really sure.

In the Midwest, soft drinks are often called sodas. This is alien to me. When I was growing up, a soda was an ice cream drink infused with additional flavoring and carbonated water. Today, when I’m asked if I’d like a soda, I hearken back to the ice cream drink with which I was raised.  

I have a very British colleague who calls all soft drinks “fizzy drinks”.   The Polish kids in and around my hometown in South Texas called them “sodies”.

In the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states, these beverages are called “sodas” and they’re also called….(gulp) “pop”.

For a Texas girl, this is very hard to swallow.  It sounds foreign.  COMPLETELY FOREIGN.  I was in a convenience store in San Antonio once and a Yankee/Non-Texan walked in and asked the college age clerk at the cash register, “Where’s your pop?”

The kid looked at him strangely and replied, “I guess he’s at work!”

Classic.

Something unique to Houston is the name given to frontage roads along the interstates. Elsewhere they’re called frontage roads or access roads…even arteries. But in Houston (and almost exclusively so) they’re called “feeder roads”. Why? I have no idea

We call it “macaroni and cheese” in these parts; I hear it referred to “cheese and mac” or “mac and cheese” in other parts of the country.   I understand in parts of the far Northeast and Canada, it’s actually called “Kraft Dinner”.  As in “Oh, tonight kids we’re having fried chicken and Kraft Dinner” and to the culinary enlightened in those parts, that portends a meal consisting of macaroni and cheese.    Very interesting. 

While not necessarily a regional phrase, I hear people say “burgers and dogs” a lot. A whole lot. This bothers me a wee bit. Not sure why, but it does. And when people refer to a hot dog as a frank, seriously I cringe. I mean, who calls a hot dog wiener a frank other than your 80-year-old Uncle Sal from Hoboken???

I must admit, I kind cringe when I hear pizza referenced as “a pie” and the same visceral reactions occurs when I’m at Baskin-Robbins and I hear someone order “shakes and malteds”.

I remember once hearing a colleague ask for a “wedge of chocolate cake”.

My sister Kathy once laughed when she heard someone ask for a “slice” of Juicy Fruit gum. Oh, she laughed…UNTIL she saw on the packaging that each pack offered six delicious SLICES of product.

Was her face red.

It’s “peanut butter and jelly” in my world, yet I hear it conveniently abbreviated to “P-B and J”. I first heard a sandwich referred to as P-B and J only recently.

I am decidedly not a fan of the words “snarky” and “meme”. I’m not even sure what they mean, but I don’t like them.

And finally, this can tear the ass out of me faster than curry-laden Indian food. I will only say this once.

It is anyway…NOT ANYWAYS. There is no “S” attached to the ending of this word. It has sadly, tragically become slang and now pervasive in this country and IT IS WRONG. Here’s why: the word is already pluralized by the prefix “any”; therefore, anyways (with an “s”) is incorrect. Don’t use it. Seriously. If you do, you’ll never get a job and you’ll go broke and live a horribly unfulfilled life completely unloved, overweight and homeless–forced to wear fashions from last season and THAT will make you a blight to society.

I hear someone utter “anyways” and it is the equivalent to the agonizing sound of fingernails on a chalkboard or listening to Fran Drescher with inflamed adenoids reading “The Charge of The Light Brigade” out loud.

Yes, I know. You’re wondering about the burr I’m rectally concealing, right?

I’m well aware of the credence I should give that old adage, “vive le difference”. I embrace the reality that people are not the same everywhere. And yes, I know I’m being picky but dammit, every once in a while, I need to let off a little steam. You see lately, I find that I’m easily agitated and well, let’s just color me “moody”.

This too shall pass but in the interim, bare with me. Here, I’ll give you a topic: Madison Square Garden is neither square nor capable of growing vegetation—discuss while I look for a bottle of Progesterone.

And some Scotch..\

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15 comments

  1. How about “Wal-mart(s) or K-Mart(s)? That runs all over me. Remember when either Nanny or Bert had a “set-tee”? That meant a love seat on the patio, didn’t it? Is that southern, too? Also, remember mother using the words “turd muckle dun” when she was describing a horrible color of brown? WTF?

  2. This may not be a regional phrase, but what’s up with the phrase, “I could care less” (when they obviously mean that they don’t care at all)? Almost 1% of the people around here (Southeast) get that one right, including people who should know better (public speakers, etc.). Most people “COULDN’T care less” about my rant, but would never know how to express it correctly. It really bugs me! My only consolation is that I’m a teacher, so I take the time to explain how to use the phrase correctly to my students.
    Oh, and by the way, I’m “fixin'” to get ready for work 😉

  3. “So, don’t I” confuses me…I have lived in all regions of the country and this is not a regional phrase…it’s just wrong!

  4. Some people use “irregardless” in place of “regardless” and it completely changes the intent of their statement. “Irregardless” contains a double negative, changing its meaning to “regarding.” Some folks also interchange “its” and “it’s” and “your” and “you’re” and I believe “[they’ll] never get a job…go broke and live a horribly unfulfilled life completely unloved, overweight and homeless–forced to wear fashions from last season.”;-)

  5. In the Midwest, soft drinks are often called sodas. …..In the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states, these beverages are called “pop.”
    Which shows that you have spent little time in the Midwest or the Northeast, nor, to compensate for same, have you researched the issue very well. Repeat after me: soda in NE, pop in MW. Here is documentary proof of my experience and my assertion.

    http://www4.uwm.edu/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_105.html

  6. Ok, I get annoyed by the Northern question of “want to come with?” or the abbreviated “come with?” I’m sorry but come with who? If you can’t put a direct noun in there somewhere then no, I don’t want to ‘go with.’ Petty, I know, but it irritates me. Although, I admit that I have been known to say “make groceries,” instead of buy groceries. I guess it’s the Southern Louisiana gal in me.

  7. I remember back when I was a kid, sometimes they call coke “soda-water” or “soda-pop”. I think that was a deep Texas thing. Boy, were those the days?

  8. Southern Goddess, I tend to say, “do groceries” as in: “I’m need to do my groceries this afternoon” [go grocery shopping]. It’s wrong, but it’s how we say it where I come from. I’m from a French-Canadian community in an English province, so we often express ourselves in English the way we would in French, and it ends up sounding odd to foreigners.
    In Eastern Canada, people also tend to put “esses” where they don’t belong, especially for the third person plural: “yous”.
    Instead of Mac & Cheese, we call it Kraft Dinner.
    All of the above mentioned don’t annoy me, really, except when I hear or read: “Our first annual…” There’s no such thing as a first annual. Something becomes annual only the second time around.
    I’m sure this list will go on and on.

  9. Amen, sister! FINALLY.

    Being a born and raised Georgia girl, my favorite pastime for a while was making a friend of mine (who was born and raised in Buffalo) order soft-drinks. She had such a broad accent and was truly a good sport.

    “PAHP”

    C’mon Lisa, say it again.

    “PAHP”

    Hey Lisa, whattya call this? (She’s handed a Coke.)

    “PAHP”

    The first time I ran into the Coke thing was in Chicago, back in the ’80’s. I’ve led a fairly sheltered life, venturing from the South very little. Fresh out of college, in my first real job, with a decent paycheck – I’d flown to Chicago to visit a young man whom I’d dated in the ATL and who was currently on the short-list of keepers. Sometime during the trip, we went to a fast food restaurant and during the order process, I said I wanted a Coke. The order-taker asked, “What kind of Coke?” I said, “A Coke”. Again he asked. I said, “A plain Coke”. “What’s a plain Coke?” “Just a regular Coke, not Diet.” “What else is there?” He said, “Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, Root Beer.” Trying very hard to keep my inner Miss Aster at bay, and project the gracious New South career girl, I said, “Coke. Thank you.” My friend then APOLOGIZED for me, saying I was from the South and hadn’t been to a big city lately. He was immediately demoted from short-list to asshat. I went home and never talked to him again.

  10. gotta another one.

    after bearing four children (they’re grown up adults now), they used to use the phrase “going out with” when referring to a girl and boy liking each other. this term started in middle school for my kid’s generation and ended in high school. I understood what they meant once they were 16 but in middle school i just didn’t understand how they could be “going out” when they had no driver’s license. going where?

    my children explained to me it’s my old phrase meaning “going steady”.

    yes, i must be old.

  11. I have a friend that says “Wal-Mark”. When I first heard this word I thought we had a new store in town.

    I, like Karol, have raised 4 children and my girls talked about “going around” with someone in middle school. I wasn’t sure where they were going around to. Town maybe? Hence the phrase “going steady”

  12. Cheryl,

    This made me laugh, because when we were in Jr High, we “went with” guys.

    I was going with Mark. You were going with Bobby, etc. I remember the Hispanic kids in KC used to call it “going around with”. We always thought that was so funny. It sounded odd. Maybe what you’re hearing your kids say is that since the population in KC is decidedly more Hispanic these days.

    In high school, I think we still “went with” people. I don’t ever remember referring to it as going steady. Dating? Yes? Going out with? Yes, but not going steady.

    The kids today (here in Houston anyway) call it “hanging out with” so and so. As it was explained to me, “hanging out with” is not exactly dating, but there’s an established understanding that you two are in a budding relationship. This is, I would imagine, that part of the juvenile courting ritual in which pigtails are pulled and arms are pinched and bruised.

  13. It is pop … but always Rum and Coke. There is no substitute. It is almost always “Kraft dinner” but sometimes “macaroni and cheese”.

    I have known people that say “Do you want to come with?” but it seems to be mostly from even more eastern than me.

    The “anyways” thing is just one of many words that makes my blood boil and wonder how we ever became civilized in the first place! Laurie, girl… don’t get me started!

  14. My husband and I had a conversation about terminology. I said “going around with” and he said “going with”. I was from the city and he was from the desert. So I guess it definitely is regional. haha!

  15. I realize this discussion was quite a while back, but I just found it when searching to figure out if my husband’s frequent description of a color as “turd muckley brown” was something he made up. But I guess it stems from the “turd muckle dun” that Karol mentioned. Hubby and I are Texan but his mother was from the Northeast and occasionally he uses words like “pressboard” (ironing board) and “bedroom shoes” (house shoes) which I assume must be regional terms she used. I stand “in” line at the grocery store (had to break hubby from saying “supermarket”) and that reminds me that non-southerners have made fun of me for calling a shopping cart a “buggy.” Also just wanted to mention the irony that in a little rant in the original post about misuse of “s” at the end of anyway, the phrase “bare with me” is used, which is basically an invitation to get naked, just sayin. 😉

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