Those silly dialects

UPDATE: I’d had commenting turned off by accident, but I’ve fixed it now. If you want to add your own anecdotes, feel free!

I’ve been collecting some cute dialect anecdotes over the past few months. I’m ready to share.

a. San Diego

I was in San Diego over Memorial Day weekend, and I heard an ad on the radio for a “hɑɾi or nɑɾi” night at a local bar. If you were [hɑɾi], you were supposed to come dressed in white. If you were [nɑɾi], you were told to wear black. I had to think about that one for a while. Was it “Hottie or Nottie” night? That would be pretty mean, I thought. My husband was pretty sure that’s what it was, though. After a while, I decided it was actually a “Haughty or Naughty” night, and haughty people should wear white as a sign of their uppity-ness.

A few days after I got back, I tried to google the event to find out if I was right. Inexplicably, neither “hottie or nottie” nor “haughty or naughty” returned any hits. Well, I thought, maybe it’s already out of the papers. It was only after telling some students about it that I thought to look up “hottie or naughty”, and lo and behold, that was the event! I was so sure they were going for the orthographic parallelism that it didn’t occur to me to check until much later.

b. New York

I was recently at a family gathering where many of the attendees grew up in Brooklyn. One uncle, who is a school psychologist who now lives on Long Island, told me that there’s a new word going around his school. The word was [slɔ]–“It’s a combination of slut and whore,” he told me. I immediately snickered internally (come on, just because I’m a phonetician doesn’t mean I’m above laughing at regional accents). I couldn’t help it, I had to ask him to clarify. “If it’s a combination of slut and whore, is the word actually [slor]?” I asked.

The uncle looked at me incredulously. “Yeah,” he said. “[slɔ]”.

c. Boston

I found this on the blog of an acquaintance this morning. I’m not going to link to it out of respect, but I do want to share.

    i have to preface this by saying that we clean our bathroom every week without fail. but last week, while standing in the shower, i noticed something growing out of the corner of the wall where it meets the tub. what was it? a mushroom. yes, a genuine mushroom growing in our bathroom. the combination of some bad caulking and extrememly humid and moist conditions made this happen. we fixed it this weekend with some caulk and some amazing goop. it’s really hard to walk into a store and ask where the caulk is. “excuse me, can you help me find some caulk?” or “i need some caulk.” or “i’m looking for some caulk.”

All I have to say is that if I ever have to get some caulk–either in NYC or anywhere else–I’m going to ask for [kɔk], even though I’m not whether that’s actually my native pronunciation or not.

(I hope this post didn’t offend anyone!)

3 thoughts on “Those silly dialects

  1. Kie Zuraw

    That’s why I always call it “caulking”.

    Curiously, the OED doesn’t have the noun ‘caulk’ (in the sense of “stuff for sealing cracks”)–only the verb. Google has ‘the caulking’ as slightly more frequent than ‘the caulk’, but this advantage could be due to phrases such as ‘the caulking material’.

  2. Pingback: phonoloblog » Orange you glad I didn’t say the C-word?

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