Soda, Coke, Bubblers, and Water Fountains

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Someone with too much time came up with a county-by-county map of dialect differences for referring to soda (though I still think 'coke' fails to refer to anything that isn't at least cola, regardless of how many people use it with that intent). A breakdown of percentage of people shows what the other map doesn't, that 'soda' is the majority term.

It quite amazes me how many people don't know that 'pop' refers to what's basically a piece of candy on a stick that you put in your mouth and suck on. But then many of these are the same people who don't know what a bubbler is, instead referring to it by the word for statues in parks that spit water out of their mouths. 'Drinking fountain', however, is acceptable but too long for casual use. It would be like using 'carbonated beverage' for soda.

Other studies of dialect differences are here, including maps and a page for each state including what percentage of people answered which way. Thanks to Language Log for the links.

8 Comments

I think the "POP" and "Coke" crowd wins the Electoral College vote hands down. This is just more of you blue staters constantly whining about the popular vote. ;-)

Even though I'm aware of 'pop' as a piece of candy, I've never heard it used except as a part of another word, e.g. lollipop or Blow Pop. As I think about it, 'popcicle' would be another version of the 'candy on a stick' usage. still, I've never heard anybody go to the corner store and ask for a pop, unless they meant soda. The kids I taught in Philadelphia used to call it a 'taffy', while I always called them 'suckers'.

My freshman year in college saw me rooming with a buy from Minnesota. It was the first time I have heard the term "pop" referring to carbonated drink, and "ruf" (instead of "roof") referring to the top of a house or building. Phil, if you are out there reading this, you are way out of your mind.

POP is a noise, not a drink.. Bubbler makes no damn sense at all..it doesn't bubble.. it shoots out a stream of WATER just like a FOUNTAIN so it's a WATER FOUNTAIN! Oh and please stop saying things like: "I'm going to the store, are you going to come with?" Huh?! Come with.....me? us? come with what?! FINISH THE DAMN SENTENCE! Really what it boils down to is the North is an ENTIRELY different country and still would be if we had won the civil war. I have been above the mason dixon line 1 time in my life and that was 1 time too many.. I don't ever want to live or visit the north again in my lifetime.. the accent alone is enough to make me want to stay away.. everybody talking through their noses while saying words that don't exist (a car's bonnet and boot?!)

it shoots out a stream of WATER just like a FOUNTAIN so it's a WATER FOUNTAIN!

Only if it's in a park and sculpted out of clay.

Really what it boils down to is the North is an ENTIRELY different country and still would be if we had won the civil war. I have been above the mason dixon line 1 time in my life and that was 1 time too many.. I don't ever want to live or visit the north again in my lifetime.. the accent alone is enough to make me want to stay away.. everybody talking through their noses while saying words that don't exist (a car's bonnet and boot?!)

Most northerners could say something similar about the south, though the details would be different. For instance, it amazes me that anyone wouldn't know the difference between how 'pin' and 'pen' are pronounced.

The common view in the north is that anyone talking with a southern accent is stupid. It took me a long time to be able to hear a grad student in philosopher when I was an undergrad who was from the south and not think of him as unintelligent. I had friends who were southerners, and they weren't dumb at all (this was an Ivy League institution), but it seemed even more jarring to me that someone who knew so much philosophy could talk that way. To my northern ears, people who talked like that weren't very bright. The fact that the words came out so slowly didn't help correct the stereotype, either, because it made him seem like he was thinking slowly.

The only reason I'm saying this is to point out that the kind of bigotry you're displaying isn't restricted to the south and is fairly natural to most people who think someone else's dialect sounds strange, though I think it's morally obnoxious not to seek to fight against that natural response.

I've never heard anyone talking about a car's bonnet (though I've read that some people used to do so, with small pockets still doing so), and I've only once heard someone refer to a trunk as a boot, and that was an octegenarian. Still, the words exist. You've got all the linguistic data against you on that one. Also, I'd like to see what talking through one's nose amounts to. I think you've got all the biological data against you on that one. It's mouths that produce the sounds that people make when they talk. There are nasalized vowels and consonants, but everyone uses them.

The interesting similarity between northeasterners and the deep south that's not found in the rest of the country is that they both add and drop the letter 'r' all over the place. I think it's because both accents trace back more closely to British English than the further variants to the midwestern and western regions.

I'm originally from Wisconsin and really have no interest in the argument on North vs. South, but just wanted to comment that a bubbler (a name that always embarrassed me when it slipped out after I went out-of-state to college) I recently learned, is called that in many areas of the US, because the company that invented the now so-called 'water fountain', the Kohler Company in Kohler Wisconsin, named and patented it that way and the original DID bubble, it didn't shoot yet. Interesting, huh? SO, maybe we should enjoy these little quirks and differences rather than getting angry about them. I tend to find them endearing -- from the north or south.

@Jermey Pierce,thats very judgmental,no no,extremly judgemental.Yes,most people from the north talk like that,but not all of us!Try northeast Wisconsin.For example,I have no idea what a car's "bonnet and boot" is,and i pronounce pen like pen,like the p noise and then a n,and pin like p in.And most people from around here do talk just as I do!
If anyone talks weird,its you people from the south!Have you ever seen swamp wars or something like that?All of you people talk just like they do!You can understand a damn word your saying!
Also,it is CLEARLY a bubbler!When Kholer made the first BUBBLER they called it a bubbler,other companys have made BUBBLERS but with diffrent names,like your stupid water fountain.How stupid.Who says "water fountain"?Its much easier to just say bubbler.

Um ... I'm from the northeast. I'm not sure what you're referring to as judgmental, but most of the things you're saying about me are simply false, just on a factual level, never mind the issue of value judgments.

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