A post at Laughing Squid introduced me to Joshua Katz’s U.S. Dialect Maps, based on data from a survey conducted by Bert Vaux of Cambridge University. Laughing Squid highlighted some favourite topics, like the soda, pop and coke divide, but the ones that really got me were the totally unexpected handful below...

After 45 years on the planet, including some living in or visiting the U.S., and a good many years hanging out on American-dominated web forums, I can honestly say I had no idea that anyone in the English-speaking world called it anything other than the crust. And yet they definitively do.

This one also floored me; I always thought of “frosting” as a universal Americanism, but even where it’s dominant it’s only weakly dominant.

Now they’re just yankin’ my chain. Another word I thought of as quintessentially American is north-eastern rather than universal. Tennis shoes? Really?

I could blame this one on disproportionate exposure to Sesame Street as a kid (New York City being in prime sneaker territory), but Hollywood is on the opposite coast and I had just as much exposure to that.

But reliance on American movies could explain my “heel” blind-spot. I can’t think of many where discussion of the end of the bread would make the final cut. Even when I was physically there, it wasn’t a major topic of conversation.

31 July 2013 · Words