January 29th, 2011
Language has always fascinated me, in both written and spoken forms. I love listening to people with accents different from mine, and especially people who are native English speakers from a different part of the world than me. When Erin and I spent two weeks traveling around Great Britain in 1998, one of our favorite pastimes was comparing vocabularies with the people we were visiting (“That jumper looks really smart on you.” “Smart!? How can a sweater look smart?” “I just mean it looks good, it looks lovely. Why, how would you say it?” “We’d say it looks sharp.” “Sharp!? How can a jumper look sharp?” etc.)
My friend Jill posted a short video of herself on her blog Jill Will Run, reading a list of words and answering some questions with regional-specific answers. She saw it done first at Healthy Tipping Point. I thought it was a really fun idea, so I made a video of my own. I can do that, now that we have electricity in our house again, after a snowstorm knocked out our power Wednesday night (along with thousands of other people in the DC metro) and we were without power for 47 hours. I’m wallowing in the luxury of having electricity again, and being able to do things like make videos and upload them to the internet.
Just for background, I was born and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. When I was 21, I married Troy and moved to San Diego. Since then, I’ve lived in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Tempe, Arizona; Southern Maryland; San Diego again; and the Washington, DC, metro area. I tend to pick up accents and regional expressions wherever I live. By the time we left Ottawa, I was saying “eh?” at the end of a lot of sentences, and then I picked up “y’all” when we lived in Virginia Beach. Someone listening to me during that time would have been very confused about where I was from.
Wow. Watching this video, I was struck with how much I really do resemble my brother, not just in looks but in facial expressions and speech patterns. Also, I can see more clearly how much Annalie looks like me when I watch videos of myself. Weird.
Anyway! Here’s the list of words:
Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught
And here are the questions:
- What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
- What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
- What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
- What do you call gym shoes?
- What do you say to address a group of people?
- What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
- What do you call your grandparents?
- What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
- What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
- What is the thing you change the TV channel with?
Do you have a special name for rain falling while the sun is shining? I don’t know a term for that, but I do have a rain term that as far as I know is specific to my family: when it’s raining so hard that the drops of rain are creating circular ripples and then bouncing back up, my family calls that raining ballerinas, because if you squint it kind of looks like a ballerina with a tutu. I think my brother or I called it that years ago, and it just stuck for some reason.
Feel free to play along. If you do, please let me know in the comments where you post your videos so I can watch them! If you don’t feel like making a video, just tell me about a weird regionalism of yours.