18 June 2013

American english pronunciation by region

I found a fascinating article on how the pronunciation for the same word will vary depending on where in America you live. Not that this will be a surprise to anyone, but Joshua Katz, a PhD student in statistics at North Carolina State University, has done a study and mapped those differences.

Not only is are language patterns interesting, but as a New Zealander, I enjoyed see where out language matched - if it matched at all. New Zealand is fascinating because it is so influenced by both British & American english. We're a British colony, so obvious influence there, plus we had many immigrants from Ireland and Scotland. The American influence on the other hand is newer, but pervasive, coming as it does through TV and movies.

This map looks at drinking fountain (blue) vs water fountain (red). Interesting little blip is bubbler (green) in Wisconsin & Rhode Island. In NZ drinking fountain would dominate.

 Generic term for sweetened carbonated beverage. Soda (red), pop (blue), coke (green) or soft drink (yellow). In NZ it'd be a soft drink or fizzy drink.

Generic term for rubber-soled shoes worn in gym class. Tennis shoes (red), sneakers (green), gymshoes (green). In NZ they would be sneakers, and we would wear them in PE class, (and as a side note in South Africa they would be takkies).

A few others that interested me listed below (for these maps & others go o Mr Katz's study.)

Pronunciation of 'Route', to rhyme with 'out' or said like 'root'?
In NZ this would be a bit of a mix of both, some of that would be driven by age, & some by usage. Route is pretty much consistently used in IT, but when plotting a journey there is more of a mix. However this is a word that should be used with care in NZ as 'root' it is also a slang term for having sex :)

Nickname for your paternal grandmother (is there a distinction)?
In NZ there is generally a split between the maternal and paternal, one being nana, the other grandma. I however, grew up with a granny. My maternal grandmother didn't comply with any traditional names - I called her Moo, a childish corruption of her given name which was Muriel.

What do you call the wheeled contraption you carry your groceries in at the supermarket? A shopping cart, grocery cart, or buggy. In NZ the option would be other, we call it a trolly. A buggy, on the other hand, is what you push babies around in.

Trash can or garbage can? In NZ it's a rubbish bin.

Take out or carry out?  In NZ it's take away.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did, and if you're not a Kiwi I hope it was a little window into the world down-under :)

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