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The Suburbanite
  • Frank Weaver, Jr: Different Regions - Different Dialects

  • It's not always what you say, but how you say it.

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  • SINCE I’VE BEEN known over the years as one who marches to the beat of a different drummer, sometimes in writing I use different words to describe a situation other than words which are commonly used around here. It’s a throwback to my youth. There are even times when I use different pronunciations. I don’t do it to show any special command of the language. The Good Lord knows it’s not good English. The truth is, it’s slang, but because of the area where I was raised, it just comes out naturally.
    For example, I may write “they certainly had me ferhoodled.” Well, to me, it’s a good usable word but it’s certainly not English. It’s Pennsylvania Dutch. Folks from Ohio would say “they had me buffaloed” or “they had me bamboozled.” Ferhoodled is a word that’s used quite frequently in the Pennsylvania Dutch area. The usage and meaning are also understood among Ohio’s farming community, its Amish and other sects of plain people.
    Upon first arriving here, I stopped at a diner. After ordering, I was asked what I wanted to drink. “Would you like a pop?” the waitress inquired. I slowly turn toward her, stared for a split second and innocently answered, “No thanks! I have one. He’s married to my Mom.”
    I thought she was going to lose it.
    To this day I have a hard time accepting “pop” for a soft drink. We always called it soda. In some places in the northeast it’s called a tonic. Other places, a fizz. The Midwest may be the only area in the country that calls it “pop.”
    In southeastern Pennsylvania an ice cream soda is called just that. It’s served in a tall, clear glass that has been frozen, filled with root beer or some other flavored soda with a scoop or three of vanilla ice cream. Then it’s topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. In other eastern states, especially around the Boston area, I’ve heard it referred to as a frappe. And even though a soda is called a tonic, they also call an ice cream soda an ice cream tonic. But mid-westerns call that a soda.
    So far, I haven’t heard any different names for milk shakes, although I’m sure there must be one out there someplace.
    These various uses of words are all part of the colloquialism of different regions. They all have their own local dialects and word pronunciations. For example, in southeastern Pennsylvania, the policy you buy on your car is pronounced, in-SUR-ance. Some places it’s pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable, such as IN-sur-ance. The word, interested, is another example. In the east it’s pronounced IN-tres-ted. In the Midwest I’ve frequently heard it pronounced in-ter-RES-ted. I’m not sure how these different pronunciations came about, but it sure would make understanding a language a lot easier if we all pronounced words the same.
    Page 2 of 2 - Scrapple, the breakfast meat that is usually fried and served with maple syrup is called ponhaus back in the Dutch Country. And pot pie is anything but a pie. All over the country, and even in grocery stores, a pot pie is a meat based pie with vegetables and is baked in an oven. In the Dutch country from Gettysburg on eastward and from the Mason Dixon line north to Allentown, pot pie is a dish cooked on top of the stove in a kettle. It has meat, vegetables and two inch squares of pie dough all boiled together. And I must say it is delicious.
    In the southeastern part of the Keystone state, their noontime meal is the main one and it’s called dinner. The six o’clock meal is a light meal and it’s called supper. Rarely do they have a light noon meal. Whenever they do, or if they brown bag it, they call it lunch.
    But in the Midwest the noon meal is a light one and is called lunch. The evening meal, called dinner, is the main meal. We may have it, but I’ve never heard of any meal in the Midwest that’s called supper.
    However, the strangest difference between the two regions is a breakfast dish … what we call dipped or dippy eggs. Simply put, they’re eggs sunny side up or lightly basted with a thin white covering over the liquid yoke.
    We’ve always called them dipped eggs because you use your toast to dip it in and sop up the liquid yoke. Of course Mom always claimed that those who call it dippy eggs just didn’t know how to make them right.
    Shortly after I arrived here in Ohio back in the early 1960s, I entered a restaurant for breakfast and ordered some dipped eggs. The waitress gave me a strange look and then asked, “What would you like me to dip them in?”
    Embarrassed, it didn’t take me long to learn that out here they’re not dipped. They’re basted.
    Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com