Sub, hoagie, hero? Map shows how Americans speak English differently

MSN News | Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
1 of 7 To full screen

Dialect heat maps

Soda or pop? How many ways do we say "trash can"? These questions have divided Americans for a long time. A North Carolina State University student's heat map project shows dialects across the U.S. See gallery

That long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce and so on?

While looking for ideas for his end-of-year statistics project, Joshua Katz decided to do a "smoothed version" of Bert Vaux's old dialect maps, which are based on data collected on regional dialects in the U.S., with the help of a 20-question survey that included everything from the pronunciation of "pecan" to whether "y'all" is preferred over "you."

Katz took the existing data, and with the help of statistical algorithms, created maps that give a more complete picture of national dialect differences.

"I've always found regional variations in dialect really fascinating," Katz says. "Language says so much about who a person is. To me, dialect is a badge of pride — it's something that says, 'This is who I am; this is where I come from.' So, just to take one example, being from South Jersey, what everyone else calls a 'sub' will for me always be a 'hoagie.'"

Click through the slideshow to view seven of the words that identify us. For all 122 interactive maps, click here.

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
2 of 7 To full screen

Generic term for sweetened carbonated beverage?

Soda, pop, coke or soft drink? Turns out Americans still haven't been able to decide on this one.

 

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
3 of 7 To full screen

Trash cans

We don't really care what you call it, as long as you remember to take it out. For some of us, "these words refer to different things."

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
4 of 7 To full screen

A group of two or more people

You guys, you, y'all, you all — how you say it says a lot about where y'all are from. 

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
5 of 7 To full screen

That thing women use to tie their hair

Use your hair thing to tie your hair — yes, some people actually say "hair thing."

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
6 of 7 To full screen

Drive-through liquor store

In North Carolina and Virginia, these are called "brew thrus."

Joshua Katz, NC State University; Bert Vaux, Cambridge University
7 of 7 To full screen

Pecan

Looks like there's a different way to pronounce pecan everywhere.