The Evolution of My Vernacular

When I first moved to the South, I wrote about accents and differing ways of pronouncing words. At the time, some of the terms and the general way of speaking in this part of the country seemed foreign to me. Fast forward almost four years and I feel I am completely fluent in the southeastern dialect (I better be considering I am married to a South Carolina native). In fact, not only am I fluent, but in some cases I speak the “language” myself.

In tonight’s blog post, I want to offer up several examples of my conversion. I will give you five words I used to say as someone who lived out on the west coast and then compare it to either the pronunciation or term I use now.

Old Word: Pecan (pronounced PEE-CON)
New Word: Pecan (pronounced PEE-CAN)
I can’t believe I pronounced this word wrong for so many years. There is no reason why this tasty nut should be pronounced PEE-CON. Obviously I skipped Hooked On Phonics as a kid. Although I was wishy-washy on making the change the first year I moved out here, common sense soon prevailed. I just couldn’t argue with how the word is spelled and how correct it sounds when someone here in South Carolina says it.

Old Word: Pop
New Word: Soda
When I return home and my dad says something like “We need to buy some pop” I can’t help but laugh. Sure I said “pop” for a quarter of a century but these days that word just seems so silly. It really isn’t an entirely Southern thing either. Though I didn’t know it when I lived in the great northwest, not many people in the country use the term “pop” when they want a carbonated beverage. In fact, I have encountered plenty of people who don’t even know what “pop” means.

Old Word: Lawyer (pronounced LOY-ER)
New Word: Lawyer (pronounced LAW-YER)
My sister-in-law says it best: You don’t practice loy, you practice law. This was an even greater lightbulb moment than what I experienced with pecan. How can you argue with that logic? Not only does it make sense to use LAW-YER as opposed to LOY-ER, it sounds so much more elegant as well.

Old Phrase: Miniature Golf
New Phrase: Putt Putt
Myrtle Beach is the putt putt capital of the world. Elaborate courses line the streets. When you read the signs of these establishments, you won’t find one mention of miniature golf. Calling it miniature golf or mini golf for most of my life, it took me about a week of living in this area of the country to completely change my tune. It is putt putt, people!

Old Phrase: Let’s BBQ some hamburgers!
New Phrase: Let’s grill some hamburgers!
Yet another example of something that now seems completely sideways when I return to Spokane. Growing up, my dad used his grill…a lot. However, we called his grill a BBQ and when we cooked items on it we said we were BBQing. I am now enlightened and I understand that barbecue is a sacred type of food in the Carolinas while grilling out is what we do when we use the invention outside that applies direct heat to our meat.

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I haven’t turned my back on my roots. In fact, I think there are words we use out west that make more sense than some of the words used out here. But that is for another post. Until then, I hope to have a day soon where I can play a round of LAW-YER-free putt putt and then come home and drink an ice cold soda while we grill out and enjoy PEE-CAN pie for dessert. Don’t Blink.