How Would Y'all Say It?

I grew up outside Boston.  Which means I grew up never knowing much geography because I learned at an early age that Boston was the center of the world.  And while I knew that the people around me often dropped their Rs (as they “pahk the cah in Hahvad Yahd”), they said things that made perfect sense to me.

Then I moved to the Midwest.  Where the carbonated beverage you drink is called “pop.”  And the person putting your groceries in a bag is a “sacker.”  And I quickly learned that Boston is not actually the center of the world and that in fact much of the terminology I grew up with was not easily understood by my new neighbors.  Nor theirs by me.

Where do colloquialisms come from?  Who decides if I am drinking Coke or tonic or soda or pop?  Why do some people sleep late but other sleep in?  And does my brother-in-law really think I am going to buy into his theory that “acrosst” is an actual word meaning across in a catty corner way?  I put away my groceries when I come home from the store but others put UP theirs.  And that long kind of sandwich… is it a sub or a grinder or a hoagie?

When I first met my husband, a native Midwesterner, I was confounded by his use of “anymore.”  As in, “I used to do that, but anymore I do this.”  What?  Oh yeah.  He means “nowadays.”  And he is very insistent that the state bordering ours is pronounced with an “a” sound at the end despite being spelled with an “i.”  (How do YOU say Missouri?)  Wait… maybe I am confusing pronunciation and regional accents with colloquialisms?  Do you “wash” or “wersh” your clothes?  Do you have an “aunt” or an “ant?”  Do you say “tomahto” while I say “tomato?”

Growing up back east I had Jimmies on my ice cream cones.  Here they are called sprinkles.  They were “wicked” good, or maybe you would say they were “awesome.”  And to pay for them I took money out of my pocka-book (aka pocketbook), which now I call my purse.

Rotary vs. roundabout, bubbler vs. water fountain, elastic vs. rubber band.  Do you “take I-70” or “take the I-70.”  If someone tells you about a wonderful time they had, how do you respond?  My mother swears that Easterners will respond, “What fun,” while Midwesterners will say, “How fun.”  I’ve never noticed this one myself.  Is she right?

And that’s, as some, but not I, would say, all the further I can go with this.

Your turn:)  Or, as my blog friend, Leslie, might say, “youze guys!”





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42 responses to “How Would Y'all Say It?

  1. Miz

    Im a YINZER
    Born and raised in Pgh PA where you guys became YINZ GUYS became You’uns became YINZ.

    Yinz have a good weekend, ok?


  2. Southerner all my life, so I’m a y’all-type gal. One of the good/weird things that resulted from working for a multinational company for over 20 years was that I had to drop many of my southernisms to be understood. Now that I’ve been away from that for a couple years, they’re coming back with a vengeance! 🙂

    • Karen

      I find it all too easy, and often embarrassing, to pick up local speech patterns. One of my best friends now has a southern accent despite growing up in the northeast and when I see her every few years, I get a twang:)

  3. I grew up in Connecticut but now live in Chicago – I say grinder when my students say sub, I say sneakers and they say gym shoes. My personal favorite, though, is that they have no idea what a package store is. They asked if that means something related to FedEx/UPS. On the East Coast, a package store is where we buy alcohol! It’s weird to be in Chicago and be able to buy beer/wine/hard liquor at the grocery store or even places like CVS or Walgreens – at home, you can get beer at the grocery store, but anything else you need to go to a package store for.

  4. I’m a ya’ll girl too! I took a lot of crap for that when I moved up North. For me people kept talking about supper and I’d say oh you mean dinner! they say pop I say soda. And except for Subway people said Hoagie. I didn’t know what those were when I first moved there.

    It wasn’t just different sayings or accents it was different traditions too. I never really got the whole apple cider and donut thing! I think that had something to do with celebrating fall? Which we really don’t have in FL!

    • Karen

      Now, see, I always thought supper was the evening meal and dinner was the biggest meal of the day whenever it was served. Like “Sunday dinner.” But, in practical use, I call our evening meal “dinner.”

  5. sunnydaze

    Having grown up about an hour outside of Pittsburg, I’m with Miz. I’ve lived in VA for 22 years but never say y’all, but still say yinz or you guys.

    Alot of the southern sayings get on my nerves – especially “I reckon”! UGH!

    Cute post to end the week! 🙂

  6. Native Eudora-ian…and I grew up on a farm. We warshed our clothes, played in the crick, and drank pop all the time 😉

  7. Always a “Cali” gal, but I never heard that term until I was in my 50’s. I’m from Southern Cal. 😉 Married to a man born in the Phillipines, brought over at age 3, who lived in Chicago or the burbs until he was nearly 40…and yet, he has none of the regional midwest slang. At all. And it’s soda, silly woman. And tomay-toe, you all or you guys, and it’s “The 57 freeway” or “the 10 freeway”…the “I” part is entirely missing out here. 🙂

  8. I grew up…and still live…in Connecticut but I’ve traveled extensively and have relatives all over the place (including Missoura). 🙂 I’ve been told that I don’t have an accent at all…that it’s sort of a neutral accent.

    It’s funny though…I grew up in Western CT and now live in the southeastern part of the state and there’s definitely a different accent here. One of the funniest accents I’ve ever heard is the Rhode Island accent, particularly folks who live in the Cranston/E. Providence area. They pronounce Cranston like this: cah-VAN-stin. The “V” isn’t overly pronounced, but’s there.

    My husband was born in Canada to Canadian parents, but moved to Pittsburgh when he was two so he’s got a unique thing going on with his accent.

    I’ve had people laugh at me for calling it a pocketbook instead of purse or bag. And I am laughing right along with Mary re “package store” 🙂 In PA where my husband grew up they called it the state store.

    Others: soda (not pop or coke), sneakers, rubber band or elastic (not gum band), grinder (not sub…although I do live right next the submarine capital of the world!)…I’ll have to thing of some more.

    All of this being said, I love various accents as long as people enunciate. Nothing drives me crazier than hearing words all slurred together. For example, instead of saying New Britain (a town here in CT) people will say “New Brih-eh” or instead of Shelton, “Shel-eh” It’s like fingernails on a chalk board to me!

    • I went to school in New Britain! Hearing that always annoyed me, too. 🙂

    • Karen

      I hate the Bostonian way of saying “idear” for “idea.” My husband would tell you, in a disappointed tone of voice, that I do not have a Boston accent. I wonder if my Boston family and friends think I now have a Midwestern one:)

  9. Dialect studies fascinate me! It’s fun to read about how dialects actually do develop. I can’t cite a book right now, but you can find one in B&N.

    Great post!!

    Your pop drinking reader (actually, I don’t drink it anymore…but still) who “gets on I-70” instead of taking it. I hear we native Ohio people also tend to drive in the left hand lane more than most, and we measure distance in time. For example, I currently live about 15 minutes from work depending on traffic instead of living 6 miles from work.

    • Karen

      Oh when I moved here everyone gave directions with North, South, etc. Back east it was “left” or “right.” There are some serious driving differences too. Of course Boston is famous for the driving there.

  10. Although I was born in South Carolina, not many people realize I’m a southern. I talk fast, don’t have much of an accent, have never said “fixing to” and abhor sweet ice tea. But the dead giveaway often comes out with the word ya’ll, which is one of my favorites. I use it in client meetings and even during big speaking presentations, because it is such a integral part of my vocabulary. 🙂

  11. You know I LOVE this post! And thanks for the mini shout out! I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL which was a (then the pc term was melting pot)”salad bowl” of northerners – many New Yorkers (us), Ohioans, and as my mom called them, Michiganders. So essentially we spoke the King’s English and were RIGHT in our pronunciations. Imagination my shock to go to nursing school in Atlanta, get on an elevator, and have someone say, “Mash 5 please”.
    Huh? I thought you mashed potatoes. This one has cracked me up for years. Another southern delicacy is that all carbonated drinks are “coke” or “co-cola”. (Coke pours a lot of big bucks into Emory, where 2 of my kids went to college, so it’s okay with me:) )

    Then to Philly, and the verbiage is beyond comprehension. Lollipops are “taffies” – no, taffy is pulled, chewy and soft. Sausage is “sa-sage” (modified short a sound) and water is “wooder”. Carbonated drinks are soda. Being a word lover and would-be word crafter, regional-eses really delight me. And isn’t it funny how once you accoustom to the local-ese, all the others sound so wrong and stupid?! Great post, Karen, and the first thing I’ve wanted to talk about today besides my dog.

  12. Lord, I hate people who double dip, but I forgot that in Georgia, the town of Americus from which many peanuts originate, and from where Jimmy Carter hailed (actually a “suburb” of Americus called Plains), they pronounce the A word a-ma-RIC-us – not the civilized way all us bloggers would say a-MAIR-i-cus! Awesome!

  13. Too funny. I grew up in Kentucky, but my parents were from Illinois and I now live in Florida. I have been told I don’t have an accent, but I have heard it all. My kids like to laugh at their grandparents. You should have seen their faces when my mom asked the kids if they wanted “suckers” (lollipops). The kids had no idea what she was referring to. And I remember the time my mom asked my daughter is she wanted to play with the dolls pronounced dowels. It is always an adventure.

  14. anne h

    Ya-wal is more how it comes out.
    I seem to be addin’ extra syllables, y’all.
    I sound like a Texan Paula Dean!

  15. 😀 And there we have our same tomato! Love it Karen! And being originally from the East & yes, born in Mass & along the east coast till high school, I get it! Purse vs. pocketbook, jimmies – YES – on a mocha chip ice cream cone, tonic, soda pop – you covered it all …. and down to the message, we are all different & we may take different course but we find what is right for us!

    • Karen

      Ooh – mocha chip! Now you have me thinking about all the ice cream chains back there that they don’t have here!

  16. Roz

    LOVE this post. I think I’m the only Canadian to comment so far. I was born in England (so have some british-isms compliments of my parents), raised on the west coast (Victoria/Vancouver). My husband is French Canadian (born and raised in Montreal) so we have some VERY different expressions and pronounciations of words. And to break the stereotype, neither of us says “eh” very much! 🙂

    • Karen

      I have a dear niece who lives in Minnesota, but she says it differently, of course, and I suspect her accent is a bit like what I might hear in Canada.

  17. Jan

    Wonderful post! One of the joys of a mixed marriage (Texan-Yankee) is discovering the humorous ways we manage language. More accurately it is the way our family members constrast since we both have learned (learnt?) through our professional lives to speak in “broadcast” accent and terms.

    Example of a South Texas grandma (nana?) sentence: “Y’all wait fer me whilst I go in yonder and put on my ear screws.”

    I can’t even type how the New Hampshire in-laws talk. No keyboard can mimic that outrageous accent that even they call Cow-Hampshire. (Except for this, who calls sewage “sewerage”?)

    • Karen

      Oh this is cracking me up! So funny. BTW – I went to college in NH and spent summers there so can hear that accent now:)

  18. MB

    What? Boston isn’t the center of the universe? Wicked good post.

    • Karen

      So remember the game Pictionary? My brother and I got teased because of drawings of the US were quite out of proportion. Cape Cod was interpreted as a huge pig’s tail!

  19. I swear my California native boyfriend drives me insane correcting my “southernisms”!!!

    There are too many to count around here!

  20. i was raised a gypsy we moved so much that as a child i never knew exactly where i was till we settles here in FL

  21. I am having a horrible time getting out of the habit of calling highways “The 70,” “The 25.” I picked it up in San Diego and no one says that here in Denver! And yeah, I’m from Texas so I do say y’all and fixin too 🙂

  22. When I moved to Mn I was struck by how people used a preposition like “with” and dangled it. Example” Are you coming with? or He did not go with? Hurt my ears actually to here this kind of syntax. I am somewhat used to it, although I would never dangle a preposition that way.

    Thanks for checking in with me. I am coming back,slowly. Michele

  23. I often hear that we Utahns have an accent. Really? I never hear it. Apparently we drop our t’s in certain words like Layton (we say layon) We also use up and down when referring to which direction we are going in (not sure if that is normal or not). I grew up here so of course I never notice the accents except from people that come from back east. This is very interesting and I am going to try to pay more attention to how people talk here and see if I notice a difference. When it comes to talking about freeways I say “take I-15 or I-80” not using “the”. I never actually thought about it any other way. I am starting to feel unaware. LOL! Have a fantastic week!

  24. I asked someone who is from the north what they said in place of y’all – he said, “You guys.” Not nearly so fabulous!

  25. Fun post, Karen, and fun to read all the comments. You are indeed a wordsmith!

  26. I’m English…i should probably just keep quiet!

  27. All y’all can say it anyway you want, but if all y’all ain’t from Dixie, you ain’t part of us-in at all, y’all

  28. Haha I STILL say awesome! :p

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