Skepchick Quickies 6.6


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. The walking dead one appeared in yesterday’s quickies.

    I like that set idea, voted. Although TBH my faith in CUUSOO is not big. It seems like ideas really need to be “licensed” ideas to get enough voters (e.g: LEGO minecraft). But then licensed ideas depend on whether the owner of the license wants the new set. So far they only made 4 or so actual sets out of CUUSOO and it has been out for years.

  2. For me, the pronunciation of “pecan” weirdly has to do with context. For example, you can eat a bowl of pick-AHNs, or you can make them into PEE-can pie.

    Also, speaking as someone from Jersey, I find it interesting – though not surprising – how several of these maps have a sharp divide between North and South Jersey. I am, however, surprised at how very little of the country correctly pronounces sear-up, or realizes that “Mary,” “marry,” and “merry” are not pronounced the same way. Tsk.

        1. It looks like that video’s been taken down, and I can’t find (in the three minutes I tried before I decided I’m too lazy on a Saturday morning) another recording that works for me, so I’ll try to write it out: “Merry” is the most different, pronounced with a short “e” sound, so it’s like MEH-ree. “Mary” has more of a long “a,” and the “r” is kind of used in both syllables, so it’s like MAIR-ree. “Marry” is pretty similar to “Mary,” and upon thinking about it I go back and forth between pronouncing it exactly like “Mary” and pronouncing it differently, sort of like I sometimes go back and forth between eee-ther and eye-ther. Anyway, the different pronunciation has more of a short “a” sound like in “match” and keeps the “r” on the second syllable, so it’s MAA-ree. Does any of that make sense?

          1. Thanks for writing that out. I did see the video before it was taken down, and it sounded a lot like what you wrote. Personally, I think the differences between the three words is extremely subtle, and I found it difficult to even hear at first. But yes, your explanation makes a lot of sense to me.

          2. I grew up in central Virginia, but I’ve been told I never had much of a Southern accent, so my accent may come from my mother, who grew up in New Jersey, near Sandy Hook. It never occurred to me that there was any similarity in their pronunciation until I started reading about people who pronounce them the same.

            My pronunciation:
            Mary — long, high a, leaning towards e, with a secondary stress on the “y”. Basically, “MAY-uh-ree,” except that the “uh” is an off-glide, not a syllable. The first syllable is noticeably longer than in the other two words. Same for all words ending in (long) “ary” with primary stress on the “a”. E.g., “scarey”, “contrary”. I have a cousin named Mary, everyone I know “back home” pronounces her name the same as me.
            Merry — short “e” sound, sort of like in “bet”
            Marry — short “a” sound like in (NE) US pronunciation of “cat”

            Neither merry nor marry have any diphthong or glide in the first syllable.

          1. (Oh. and for those not familiar with the stage version of “Guys and Dolls” and aren’t already tipped off by the name, “Marry the Man Today” is not the most… progressive of songs, but it was the first example I thought of that worked well.)

    1. Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders, navy beans navy beans, MEATLOAF SANDWICH. SLOPPY JOE, SLOP ‘A SLOPPY JOE!

    1. Yeah. I’ve heard that one before. Blech. To me it’s one of those indicator phrases: this person isn’t safe to hang out with.

      Having grown up on the west coast, I am a little surprised that the answer was “don’t have a word for that.” Since I was just out of diapers I’ve called them sunshowers. Everyone I knew called them sunshowers. That may be a product of living in a region where almost no one who lived there was actually from there, though, and having parents whose linguistic heritage came from OK and MI.

      1. I did a little informal survey today of coffee shop denizens here in Portland, Oregon. People born here uniformly said, “There’s a word for that?” except one wag who said, “What day is it again?” Transplants mostly knew the term sunshower, or at least knew there was a word if they could only think of it.

        To be sure, my sample size was small and my methodology anything but rigorous. Still, I admit it surprised me. I learned sunshowers during my misspent youth in the Midwest, and would have thought a place like Portland, where they happen far more often than they ever did in Ohio, would at least have a word for the phenomenon.

  3. The ones I am most surprised about are mayonnaise and lawyer. There are different pronunciations for those?

    I take issue with crawdad and crawfish. A crawdad lives in fresh, running water, a crawfish lives in brackish mud. They are called “mud bugs” for a reason!

    1. My wife was chuckling over the maps yesterday and asked me how I pronounce “lawyer”. When I told her it was quite obviously pronounced “loyer”, she looked at me as if I had lost my mind! We also have a 20+ year ongoing disagreement about the pronunciation of “aunt”.

          1. The dialect map says you’re wrong (75% say it like ‘ant’). My wife, on the other hand, would agree with you. Despite the fact that I grew up saying it like the majority do, and still say it that way in my head, I say the soft ‘au’ when we’re together. It’s not worth fighting over.

          2. Not to put too fine a point on it, but 73% of Americans also consider themselves Christians. I long ago gave up the notion that what is popular and what is correct are necessarily the same.

            Ants crawl around on the ground. My aunts very seldom do.

      1. I pronounce “law” so it rhymes with the “aw” in “aw, how cute!”, and “lawyer” is just “law” plus “yer”.

        I’m not sure what pronunciation people mean with “loyer”, since “o” can represent the same sound as the “aw” in “law”. And both can vary.

        For instance, when I was a freshman in college, I remember having no clue what a classmate from Long Island was talking about when she spoke of her “dwog” (by which I mean there was a definite “w” or “oo” before the very deep “o”.) She was forever convinced that I very well knew she was talking about the animal that goes “woof” that people keep as pets and was only making fun of her accent.

        BTW, I assume everyone here knows that the correct pronunciation of where she was from is “Lwong Guy-land”

  4. I for one am delighted to see that Rhode Islanders are united with me and my fellow native Wisconsinites in the absurdity of referring to drinking fountains as “bubblers”.

    1. “Bubbler” is a genericized trademark, which is commonly used through out New England.

      Also lacking in the the language maps: “tonic” as a synonym for “soda.”

      I had no idea that “sneakers” was so regional.

      1. Yeah, bubblers (which Firefox’s spell checker objects to) is what we called them as a kid in SE Mass. Mostly it was strange adults from distant, exotic places (like Boston) who called soda “tonic”, but we always knew what they meant. Sneakers, regional, WTF?. And finally, if it’s popped in a pizza oven for a few minutes to toast the bread and melt the cheese, it’s a grinder. Otherwise it’s a sub (or submarine sandwich, if you’re at a formal occasion). Unless it’s a steak grinder with everything (onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese at a minimum), in which case it’s a bomb.

  5. The maps were really cool. I have a Mid-Atlantic accent. One of the things that jumped out at me was how my pronunciation or usage of certain words has actually changed over time, so that for example when I was a kid I always said “sneakers,” but now I usually say “tennis shoes.” I think probably some of the change has come from picking up some of my partner’s speech patterns, who grew up in the Midwest.

    There are a couple of pronunciation quirks which I think are interesting that weren’t mapped. I pronounce “get” such that it rhymes with “sit,” which I never really noticed until it was pointed out to me by a friend of mine from the Midwest as making me sound slightly Southern. My partner pronounces the word “both” with an L for some reason, as if it were spelled “bolth.” I tease her about it mercilessly. Since meeting her, I’ve noticed other people occasionally using that pronunciation, and I’m really curious about its regional usage now.

    1. There were a few whose absence I noted, too. My spouse is a NE’er and says things like “all’s” and “sawr” for all and saw. Funnily, the tool one uses to cut wood is a saw, but when one sees something with their eyeballs, all’s they did was sawr it. I giggle at his odd usage (or lack, hello it’s a car not a cah) of the letter R, he teases me about “woofs/wulfs” (wolves) and how we “supposably” live in a house, not a “haowse” (emphasis on the long, nasally O) and how the word “button” has two whole T’s in it so why don’t I pronounce any of them?

      Another would be buggy instead of shopping cart. To me, a buggy is something pulled by a horse or alternatively an old fashioned baby carriage. Colloquially, it can also mean the biting insect to air density ratio: “don’t go outside today, it’s really buggy.” In my part of the south, though, it’s most often the thing you put your groceries in while shopping. I get askance looks when I ask where the shopping carts are located. “You mean the buggies?”

      1. That’s another one. I’d call it either a shopping cart or a [shopping] trolley, which didn’t appear as an option.

        1. Upon very swift internet research, apparently “trolley” is the British/Commonwealth word, and I picked it up somehow. I’m guessing either too much BBC or growing up around so many French Canadian families in New England.

          1. When I worked in a supermarket in high school, I was amazed to discover they were officially called “carriages”. You could always tell an insider to the grocery industry (pronounced “gross-ree”) if they used carriage;

  6. On the “Bowie Knife” map:

    UPDATE 2: From a Texan: “It’s pronounced Boo-wie because it’s named after Jim Bowie (pronounced Boo-wie), who played a major role in the Texas revolution. That explains why we’re the only ones who pronounce it correctly.”

    I’ve heard it pronounced this way, too, but not as often as “bo.” I’ve also heard “BOW-ee.” . The Texas Revolution’s two main events were in San Antonio and Houston (San Jacinto), both of which are more red than blue on this map. It could be true that his name was pronounced boo-wee, but that David Bowie’s name became popular and that people began pronouncing it that way. Who knows.

  7. I was annoyed on a few maps that they collapsed everything down to just four choices. It was particularly glaring on the “What city is The City?” map– the big dark blue splotch in California is almost certainly “San Francisco”, but of course it’s just listed as “Other.”

    1. I agree; that one in particular seemed a little useless. Isn’t “The City” pretty much always just whatever major city you’re closest to?

    2. Only people who have moved to Frisco call it “the City” and they’re just putting being pretentious. It’s not even that important any more. It’s not even that important any more. It’s the #4 in population in California. The main economic engines of the bay area are San Jose, where the smart people live and Oakland, with it’s harbor.

      Culturally, it’s not even a western city, It belongs in Massachusetts.

  8. As someone from PA with fairly strict liquor laws I loved seeing the Pittsburgh side of the state recognized the term brew-thru due to crossing state lines to buy alcohol.

  9. Nothing on the “addressing a group of more than one people” map looked right, but I didn’t know what was wrong until yesterday in a restaurant when our waitress said “Can I get youse guys anything?”

    Definitely, “youse” is the plural of “you”.

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