March 28th, 2010

Whatdyacallit?: survey

Different people often have different names for the same things. Sometimes the reason for this is regional, sometimes I cannot figure it out at all. I am fascinated by this, maybe because I was raised in one region by parents from another, so I kept noticing what people said when it was different from what I said. Anyway, I thought I would survey you, gentle blog readers, on a few things that always stick out to me. Please note that this is no way a studious, well-thought-out survey, nor am I planning on doing anything with the results other than finding them interesting (do you notice how nervous it makes me that an actual professional linguist reads this blog?) Note also, to avoid giving any bias as to how *I* would say things, the questions below are somewhat grammatically weird. And finally, I know I’ve already bugged a few people in blogland about this–it’s one of my pet subjects! Sorry for the repeat, guys.

1) You have a car, your friend does not, you are both going to the same place, and you would like to be helpful–what do you say to him/her?

2) What is that piece of terry you use to clean yourself in the shower/bath called? (although if Salinger can’t solve this one, maybe I can’t either)

3) What do you call a number of houses all designed, built and sold by the same company, on a set of streets where only such houses exist?

4) You have left something at your place of employment–express this in a sentence.

5) Long thin beans that you can eat in the pod–what are the green ones called? What are the yellow ones called?

6) What do you call the nipple-shaped plastic thing you put in a baby’s mouth to stop him or her from crying?

7) What are your geographical origins that might impact your diction? (for example, RR is from Southern Ontario, but her parents are from Brooklyn/Los Angeles, and because of the position of the tv antenna, most of the tv she watched growing up was from Buffalo)

If you feel like answering in the comments, or on your own blog and sending me a link, you will have made a humble nosy girl very happy. I’ll post my answers in a little while, so as not to taint the sample (ha!)


10 Responses to “Whatdyacallit?: survey”

  • Rosalynn says:

    1) Do you want a ride?
    2) washcloth
    3) a subdivision
    4) oh shit – I left my (whatever) at work. Or at the office.
    5)yellow beans, or green beans (mostly, I call them 'those beans I don't like')
    7)I grew up in northern ontario (all over, but North Bay mostly) – so did my parents (Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie). I have been told I have a northern ontario accent. I believe that's the 'nice' way of saying I sound like I was raised in a barn, ha ha.

  • Anonymous says:

    1. can I give you a lift?
    2. washcloth
    3. subdivision
    4. I left my monkey at work!
    5. beans and yellow beans
    6. soother (or nu-nu, don't tell anyone!)
    7. north central BC (Dad from London, Ontario, Mum from Prince Rupert, BC)
    We call it bumper hitching! (that's a reference to the time Bill Richardson asked what people across Canada call hanging on to the back bumper of a car while being pulled on a bike or skateboard on the RoundUp on CBC radio 1 and everyone from coast to coast called in saying the same thing – for months! it was funny. don't know if it comes across here!)
    Gillian Wigmore

  • Anonymous says:

    1. Do you want a ride?

    2. Wash cloth

    3. I left my keys at work.

    4. green beans and grean beens, but yellow.

    5. a soother

    6. Canadian parents (one from Windsor, one from Owen Sound). Me — southern ontario, and watched Buffalo TV.

  • Anonymous says:

    and oops — subdivision

  • Kerr says:

    PS My favourite different name for same thing thing is the various names for the game where you knock on doors and run away. We called it Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, Stuart called it Knock a Door Run, and there was even some place where it was called Knock Down Ginger (but I don't know why. Or who Nicky was either).

    Oh- Wikipedia is awesome,_Knock,_Ginger

  • Amy says:

    We called it KDRF (Kick Door Run Fast). And we called bumper-hitching "skitching."

  • Ransermo says:

    1) Do you want a ride to Becky's
    2)wash cloth
    3)Cookie cutter homes, ABC design inc., model homes or banal-urbs
    4)I forgot (x) on my desk at work
    5)green beans peas, or snow-peas (or endmanane/soybeans)
    Yellow beans
    6) a pacifier
    7)Owen Sounder

  • Katherine says:

    1.) "Would you like a ride?" or maybe "Do you need a lift?"

    2.) Washcloth.

    3.) A development.

    4.) "Aw crap, I left my important something at work."

    5.) Green beans, or maybe string beans. There are yellow ones???

    6.) A pacifier, or a nookie (personal lexicon, I suspect).

    7.) Raised in Nebraska, German grandmother, watched lots of BBC on PBS as a kid.

  • AMT says:

    the a.p.l. would like to say that you don't need to be nervous! and i should introduce you to some socio-linguists someday :)

  • Jill says:

    1. Would you like a ride? (wish I said "lift" but I don't)
    2. Wash Cloth
    3. Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky and They all look just the same
    4. Left it at work.
    5. string beans (green) and wax beans (yellow)
    6. pacifier
    7. Maine – USA

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