You Say Po-Tay-To, I Say Po-Tah-Toh


Wolfdog via Wikimedia Commons

As shown in this map, accents vary greatly depending on location.

The way we speak defines who we are. While each of us have our quirks in the way we pronounce certain words, there are general trends across the regions of our country, which can predict what people in an area will typically say, ranging from slight differentiations in pronunciation to the usage of completely different words.

Soda vs. Pop

The words soda, pop, and even coke all refer to soft drinks in general. In the South, starting from New Mexico and ranging all the way to the East Coast, the majority of the population uses the word “coke.”  An exception would of course be South Florida, where the dialect is far more northern-sounding.  The California-Nevada area, the Northeast, and a small area between Missouri and Illinois refer to soft drinks as “soda,” and the Great Plains all the way up to Canada call it “pop.”


Accents vary greatly across the US. While some are less obvious, like the Appalachian accent, some are very well-known, like the typical Southern, New York,  Michigan, and Valley accents. Some maps show very plain generalizations of dialect trends. You can simply draw a single line dividing the country between those who say “you guys” and those who say “y’all.”

Words Consistently Fought Over

The pronunciation of some words are often argued over regardless of accent or region. There are a few iconic words for which the pronunciations people simply cannot agree upon, and that may can say they’ve had quite a few arguments over. Here are a select few of these words; take a look at how members of the Pine Crest community pronounce these words in the slideshow below:

  1. Pecan: PEE-kahn vs. peh-KAHN
  2. Caramel: CAR-mul vs. CARE-uh-mel
  3. Nuclear: NUKE-lee-yur vs. NUKE-yuh-lure
  4. Espresso: ES-presso vs. EX-presso
  5. Envelope: AHN-velope vs. EN-velope
  6. Aunt: AWnt vs. Ant
  7. Route: ROOT vs. ROWT
  8. Adult: Ad-UHLT vs. AD-ult
  9. February: feb-YEW-ary vs. feb-ROO-ary
  10. Gif: Gif vs. Jif

The diversity of dialect based on region is what truly defines America as a melting pot.  From accents to pronunciation, everyone has a unique way of communicating, that may stem from the place they live or the way they were taught.  Either way, hearing different people from different backgrounds speak enriches the culture, the language, and makes for some pretty interesting conversation.

Sources: Washington Post, Pop vs Soda, Huffington Post

Photo Source: Wolfdog via Wikimedia Commons