Pardon my English

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm fascinated with the English language, specifically the huge differences in the way people speak depending on where they live. I think it's neat how you can drive just a few hours and hear terms or phrases you'd never hear at home, and how the more you travel, into different parts of the country or the continent, you'll hear so many variations of the same words, yet we're all speaking the same language.

Last weekend I was out with some friends and I used the term "fetch up". We were discussing how a particular local chain of grocery stores added a mechanism to their shopping carts that makes them impossible to steal. When you get to a certain point in the parking lot the wheels seize up and you can't move the cart off the property.

Anyway, I was talking about how once I took a running start while pushing a cart and pretty much threw myself over the cart to get a laugh out of people watching. " then the cart fetched up and I almost went ass over teakettle...wait, what?" The people I was with had never heard the phrase "fetch up" before and spent the next 20 minutes telling me I'm a New Brunswick hillbilly. Well, tell me something I DON'T KNOW!

I found this dialect quiz floating around teh intarwebz and thought I'd fill it out. Let me know if you, too, think I'm a New Brunswick hillbilly based on my responses.


1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks.

2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called.

3. A metal container to carry a meal in.
lunch can. but if it were a plastic container, I'd call it a lunch BOX.

4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in.
frying pan

5. The piece of furniture that seats three people.

6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof.

7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening.

8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages.

9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup.

10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself.

11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach.

12. Shoes worn for sports.

13. Putting a room in order.
tidying up

14. A flying insect that glows in the dark.

15. The little insect that curls up into a ball.
that sounds disgusting and I'm sure there are plenty of insects that do this...NEXT QUESTION PLZ

16. The children's playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down.

17. How do you eat your pizza?
rip off little pieces and pick off the toppings and eat them first. But I molest every meal before I aet it.

18. What's it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff?
yard sale

19. What's the evening meal?

20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are?

21. What do you call the thing that you can get water out of to drink in public places?
water fountain

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  1. um i think your quiz answers were pretty normal?? lol

  2. This is a FASCINATING post---in college, I took linguistics and loved learning this kind of stuff. The biggest difference for me is "supper"---I call that dinner. But, oddly enough, I grew up with relatives from the Midwestern states calling it supper.

    Ahh, I want to go read a bunch of this stuff now. Great post.

  3. I'm from WI. A few of mine are the same as yours, but a few of yours are dead wrong, so I corrected those for you.

    1. Stream or creek
    3. lunch box
    6. gutter
    7. veranda (just kidding, it's a porch)
    8. soda or pop
    11. swimsuit
    12. tennies or tennis shoes
    13. straighten up?
    17. with my mouth...?
    18. rummage sale
    21. bubbler (FYI, water fountains are in parks with statues of peeing cherubs in the middle of them!)

    What do you call the winter activity of laying on a piece of plastic and careening down a snow-covered hill? sledding

  4. I'm from Nova Scotia, live in Calgary, and the wife is from Vancouver. I say supper (I think that's an east coast thing) and she says dinner (I think west coast). I don't know the dividing line in Canada...

    Also I noticed westerners called tuna tunafish.... Why? I don't know. It's not salmonfish or troutfish. Bugs the he!! out of me!

    I could go on and on about this one... Great topic.

  5. @HK too! :)

    @Amy...breakfast, lunch and supper is what I eat! I'd like to learn more about linguistics. Sooo many different nuances, it's funny.

    @Antny someone from Boston calls it a bubbler too! I've never heard that term before. I call the winter activity-thing "sliding".

    @TP my relatives in Ontario call it 'dinner' and used to make fun of us for saying 'supper'. I think 'supper' must be straight-east coast. I HATE tunafish!!

  6. My only changes would be:

    sneakers > trainers (I don't know where I picked this one up from)

    lunch can > never use this, I say lunch box for everything

    supper > dinner, I never say supper unless it's near 11 p.m. because it'd be a "late night supper"

    and that's it...

  7. @FB I'm thinking supper must be a maritime-only term. I usually say lunch box too. The description of it as a "metal" container made me choose lunch can in my mind...then again I don't know if I'd actually SAY lunch can!

  8. I'm gonna have to agree with most of your answers and I'm a bona fide city girl...

    However, fascinating, indeed. Love your blog, ladybird!

  9. From Montreal -- my answer are waaay different:

    1. Stream
    2. Carriage
    3. Lunch box
    6. Rain gutter
    8. Soft drink
    11. Bathing suit... I know, it's quite generic but I've never heard someone actually say "trunks" here
    12. Running shoes
    13. Cleaning
    16. See-saw
    17. Fork and knife to cut pieces and then butter slathered all over the crust
    18. Garage sale

  10. Thanks Jill! Glad you like.

    @Audria...Butter on your pizza crust? I've never heard of it that way but I'm not one to be opposed to using extra butter!

  11. Hi! I found your blog through ben. I loved this post! The language variations are so fascinating.
    Here's my answeres:
    3.Lunch Box
    4.Pan or Skillet
    11.Shorts or swim-shorts
    12.Tennis-shoes (tenny-shoes)
    14.Lightning Bugs
    15.Rolly-Polly or doodlebug
    17.with my hands