You don’t know that word?

Ok, so as a linguist I’m delighted by regionalisms and dialect and linguistic variation. But there are two things that annoy me:

1) When people act like their regional version is somehow better . “It’s SODA, not POP; ‘pop’ sounds stupid!” I don’t give an isht how stupid something sounds to your dumb ass.

2) When I use a Northwest word and other people don’t know it. Even if they don’t pass judgment on me for using a non-standard word; I hate am totally baffled when people don’t know MY word, period. Yah, it’s not very linguisty of me.

So today there were three words, “jo-jo’s,” “pre-func,” and “katonk.” What! I’m the only one who says “jo-jo’s?

Now, to be fair, “katonk” is a Hawaiian English word, but if people are going to get all “local” then they better know what a “katonk” is.

People seem to like “care-frontation” though, although that’s not regional, that’s just a neologism I picked up from a friend.

Updated to clarify. 

12 thoughts on “You don’t know that word?

  1. Wow, this person you’re talking about sounds like a total jerk!

    Personally, I don’t mind regionalisms at all. What really amuses me is when people don’t know that they’re using a regionalism. You know… when they’re just a little bit out of touch, linguistically, with the rest of their compatriots. I find Californians most often guilty of this, but I think it’s a general West Coast thing.

    What I like the best is when people have their own slang. That rules.


  2. I heard the soda/pop conversation when I was in grad school between a suburban Detroit med student (soda) and her roommate from the Upper Peninsula (pop). That’s when I realized that Standard English was based some on people calling other people ‘stupid.’

    I know that West Coast provincialism that you’re talking about. There are a lot of Seattlites don’t want to have anything to do with anything east of, say, Lake Washington.

    I remember a friend from college who moved up to Seattle from southern California, who was constantly baffled by our regionalisms, our disregard for his regionalisms, and for the apparent lack of chili cheese fries. I remember once we watched a movie where a truck carrying hundreds of empty blue 5-gallon water jugs rolled over, and water jugs went all over the place, and him having to explain to Seattlites what water jugs were and what they were for. He was like “you don’t know what a WATER JUG is?” And I was like, “Dude, you PAY for clean WATER?”

    Ah, the 90s.


  3. “To pre-func” refers to getting booze before going out drinking. Usually it means getting drunk on cheap stuff before going out somewhere where booze is expensive (clubs) or prohibited (UW football games). It can also refer to the preparation, e.g., filling your Dasani bottle with Monarch Vodka.

    “Katonk” is ‘local’ Hawaiian for an Asian person born on the mainland. It used to be for just Japanese people born in Japan.

    I know what lagniappe is; for some reason there was some Louisiana slang in Olympia where I grew up. I remember as a kid eating “po boys” in the school cafeteria, and then in 6th grade seeing a “hoagie” on the school lunch menu, and being very confused. I didn’t learn the word “grinder” until after college; still can’t bring myself to say it.

    Ok, so what’s a “neutral ground?”


  4. Wait a second, I remember what “neutral ground” is… it’s the grassy median of a road or a freeway.

    Ooh, “freeway.” I remember my friend in high school making fun of her boyfriend for calling it “the interstate.”


  5. We don’t have freeways in the Midwest. Expressways, interstates, toll roads, or the eponyms (the Dan Ryan, the Eisenhower or the Ike, the Edens, the Stevenson, the Kennedy), yes. Californians are kidding themselves when they call their limited-access highways “freeways.” They don’t cost you any tolls, sure, but how much are you spending on gas money to be stuck in traffic?

    As a Chicagoan, I drink pop. Soda sounds stupid. I mean, really. Baking soda? Soda bread? Soda water? Sure. But it’s not pop.

    And Sodapop? That’s the brother in that S.E. Hinton teenage novel, The Outsiders.


  6. Children, the point is not whether or not “pop” sounds stupid to you. It’s a regional variation. If you’re not from a region that says it, it’s gonna sound stupid to you. Duh.

    So saying “I don’t like that regional variation because it doesn’t sound right to me” is like putting a condom in your mouth and saying “this gum tastes funny.”


    If you don’t like the word “pop,” just give the real reason: because your insecurities have bloomed into fascism.

    Why is it that all my friends are feminist English majors from California who think they’re smarter than me? Uh!


  7. Pingback: Pop vs. Soda is not the point « you don’t have to read v2.0

  8. Oh, Andrew Zimmern, you so crazy! What did you do with Jason?

    I was walking down the street the other day, and I was thinking about what I would say if I ran into Anthony Bourdain at one of my sidewalk kitchens. I would say, “Anthony Bourdain! What the hell are you eating?” and, “where’s your best pal, Andrew Zimmern? You guys are like peas and carrots!”


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