American Dialect

American Dialect: sodaThe long awaited dispute of what is the ‘right’ way to say a sweetened carbonated beverage is in, finally. Could it be soda, pop, or coke? And the answer,according to one graduate student’s American dialect research is:

All of the above! That is, depending on where you are in America-due to one’s American dialect they speak. You can thank the statistics graduate student, Joshua Katz, at North Carolina State University for putting all of the American dialect confusion to a rest. Joshua has created 100+ maps of different lexical and phonological phenomena in English.

Those different lexical and phonological occurrences are created by the use of a different American dialect based on certain regions across the U.S. According to, a dialect is “a variety of a language that is distinguished from other varieties of the same language by features of phonology, grammar, and vocabulary, and by its use by a group of speakers who are set off from others geographically or socially.”

The grad student’s main focus was to use an American dialect based on his geographical location.

 Lexical Differences in American Dialect

Using the sweetened carbonated beverage example of American dialect, one can clearly see that the majority of the northern part of the country (excluding Northeastern states) prefer the use of the word ‘pop’. The “soda” users tend to fall into the East and West coast and in the Southern Illinois/Missouri area. Last but not least, is the least common, ‘coke.’ To seem like a true native, use this term in the Southern region of the U.S.
Fun fact: Opposite the American dialect, the people in the U.K. call a sweetened carbonated beverage a ‘fizzy drink’.

American dialect-sodapopcoke

Red indicates ‘soda’. Blue indicates ‘pop’. Green indicates ‘coke’.

With this information, perhaps you can possibly fool a Michigander into thinking you’re a native by using the word ‘pop’? If not that, at least not stick out like a sore thumb by order a ‘coke’.

As previously mentioned, there are over 100+ of these American dialect maps! Maps include examples such as these:

1. You guys vs. you all vs. ya’ll

2. Sub vs. Hoagie

3. Water fountain vs. Drinking fountain vs. Bubbler (looking at you Wisconsin and Rhode Island natives)


Phonological Differences in American Dialect

Along with lexical items, these maps also incorporate phonological differences in American dialect. By phonological differences, I mean how the word itself is said differently in various regions.

For example, the word ‘been’ can change in sound by either using the

[I] vowel, like in ‘sit’, the [ɛ] vowel, as in the word ‘set’, and the [i] vowel, in ‘see’. The consensus is that ‘been’ uses the vowel [I]. There are select northern regions, especially in Michigan and Wisconsin, that use the option [ɛ].

American dialect-been

Red indicates [I]. Blue indicates [ɛ]. Green indicates [i].

Other American dialect phonological examples include:

  1. Carmel: Car-mel (two syllables) vs. Car-a-mel (3 syllables)
  2. Syrup: sir-up vs. sear-up vs. sih-rup
  3. Bowie knife: Bo-wie vs. Boo-wie

…and many more


American Dialect: American Accent Reduction

If you have a foreign accent and are interested in accent reduction services and American dialect, we offer online accent reduction classes using Skype.  If you live locally, we have offices in Chicago, Illinois where we offer these private classes in person.  Ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free accent screening?  Check out our on-line accent reduction courses  available to students all over the world.  To stay in touch and acquire instant access to additional accent reduction tips, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.