27 fascinating maps that show how Americans speak English differently across the US

Joshua Katz

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.”

Joshua Katz

There are a few pockets where people drink out of “bubblers” instead of water fountains or drinking fountains.

Joshua Katz

Is “mayonnaise” two syllables or three?

Joshua Katz

Tiny lobsters are tearing the US apart.

Joshua Katz

There’s a clear divide when it comes to pronouncing “pajamas.”

Joshua Katz

Southerners say “lawyer” differently than the rest of the US.

Joshua Katz

The name for this insect was one of the most divisive terms in the survey.

Joshua Katz

If you pronounce “merry,” “marry,” and “Mary” differently, we have a good idea where you come from.

Joshua Katz

Philadelphians love hoagies, while New Yorkers prefer heroes. But most people just call them subs.

Joshua Katz

How about this word for diagonal?

Joshua Katz

Some people in the West say “freeway” where most Americans say “highway.”


There’s a ton of variation in how people pronounce “route.”

Joshua Katz

“Sneakers” is a distinctly Northern word … except for that pocket in South Florida.

Joshua Katz

For a good chunk of Americans, “the City” refers specifically to New York City.

Joshua Katz

Americans can’t agree on how to pronounce “crayon.”

Joshua Katz

And “caramel” is just as polarising.

Joshua Katz

Michigan and parts of the mid-Atlantic have special terms for the night before Halloween.

Joshua Katz

For the South and part of the Midwest, it’s OK to call coleslaw “slaw.”

Joshua Katz

There’s more than one way to pronounce “syrup.”

Joshua Katz

And states near the Canadian border have a unique way of saying “been.”

Joshua Katz

Much of the population hasn’t heard of drive-through liquor stores, which some Virginians call a “brew thru.”

Joshua Katz

You’ll never think of pecan pie the same way again.

Joshua Katz

People in Alabama and Mississippi have a grim-sounding idiom for when it rains while the sun is shining.

Joshua Katz

Is it a roundabout, a traffic circle, or a rotary?

Joshua Katz

Most people pronounce “Bowie knife” like the singer, but residents of Texas and Bowie, Maryland would beg to differ.

Joshua Katz

People in Appalachia put “icing” on their cake instead of “frosting.”

Joshua Katz

This is an update of a post originally written by Walter Hickey.

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