In a country as vast as the United States, you’re hardly ever going to find a consensus on how to say something.
Do you drink soda, or do you call it pop? Do you wear sneakers, or tennis shoes? The answers vary depending on where you ask the question.
Linguists Bert Vaux and Scott Golder surveyed more than 30,000 people from all 50 states in the early 2000s to compile some of the starkest regional divisions in American English, from vocabulary to pronunciation.
Graphic artist Josh Katz eventually turned the results into a series of maps, and updated them for his 2016 book “Speaking American.” The surprising data illuminate the linguistic quirks that make American English such a fascinating dialect.
Take a look at 27 of his maps that show how differently Americans speak:
Most of the US says “you guys,” while Southerners say “y’all.”
No one can agree on whether to call it “soda,” “pop,” or “coke.”
There are a few pockets where people drink out of “bubblers” instead of water fountains or drinking fountains.
Is “mayonnaise” two syllables or three?
Tiny lobsters are tearing the US apart.
There’s a clear divide when it comes to pronouncing “pajamas.”
Southerners say “lawyer” differently than the rest of the US.
The name for this insect was one of the most divisive terms in the survey.
If you pronounce “merry,” “marry,” and “Mary” differently, we have a good idea where you come from.
Philadelphians love hoagies, while New Yorkers prefer heroes. But most people just call them subs.
How about this word for diagonal?
Some people in the West say “freeway” where most Americans say “highway.”
There’s a ton of variation in how people pronounce “route.”
“Sneakers” is a distinctly Northern word … except for that pocket in South Florida.
For a good chunk of Americans, “the City” refers specifically to New York City.
Americans can’t agree on how to pronounce “crayon.”
And “caramel” is just as polarising.
Michigan and parts of the mid-Atlantic have special terms for the night before Halloween.
For the South and part of the Midwest, it’s OK to call coleslaw “slaw.”
There’s more than one way to pronounce “syrup.”
And states near the Canadian border have a unique way of saying “been.”
Much of the population hasn’t heard of drive-through liquor stores, which some Virginians call a “brew thru.”
You’ll never think of pecan pie the same way again.
People in Alabama and Mississippi have a grim-sounding idiom for when it rains while the sun is shining.
Is it a roundabout, a traffic circle, or a rotary?
Most people pronounce “Bowie knife” like the singer, but residents of Texas and Bowie, Maryland would beg to differ.
People in Appalachia put “icing” on their cake instead of “frosting.”
This is an update of a post originally written by Walter Hickey.
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