The Regional Dictionary. Or Pissah, I Still Talk Like That?

Do you ever utter a sentence where someone does a double take and tilts their head? Meg likes to think she’s toned down her Boston accent so no one recognizes what city she’s really from. Except when she says she has a great idear idea.

As she well knows, a regional accent can be extremely grating. Some people still think New Englander’s talk like JFK. They may have may have in her grandfather’s day, but she doesn’t hear real people like that anymore.

She does, however, hear people talk like these chicks:

Meg remembers in high school she’d hit Manning’s pharmacy for vanilla cokes, followed by a trip to the Maynard Pizza house for toasted subs. When she was older, Meg and her friends would take a beat run to the packie, where they’d pool the contents of their fringed handbags to see how many little tiny Millah Lites they could buy, because who didn’t like the handy purse size beaahs for the movie theater?

DARE (The Dictionary of Regional English) has just come out with Volume V of it’s exhaustive list of words and can tell you things like “where people might live if their favorite card games are euchre, five hundred, schafskopf, sheepshead, or sixty-three; or where Americans eat apple pandowdy, lutefisk, or rivel; or where people are from if they live in dog trots, railroad flats, salt boxes, or shotgun houses.”

Meg is going to avoid all the places people play cards, because she hates sitting around staring at a deck of cards when she could be doing something fun. That’s why this could be such a handy book for her!

OK, you Pennsylvania natives, can you tell me what any of these things are?

Lighting a barn burner near a doodle is never a good idea, whether or not there’s a mowhole nearby to use as an escape route. You might suspect a elbedritsch of trying such a thing, though. When planning a horning, try to find a way to keep people from playing hasenpfeffer or drinking ratgut. At the very least, get someone to make a kuchen and arrange for a skimmelton. No one should be snoopy about what is offered.

Meg knows for sure what all these things are in Massachusetts:

If you’re up in Gloucester for the day, maybe you can watch the fare come in and then grab a frappe afterwards. If it’s springtime and you’re down on the Cape, try to spot a pinkwink. But if you’re down there in the fall, pick up a scoop and start harvesting some cranberries. Hopefully there aren’t too many diddledees on the way. Watch your speed on the way home, so you don’t get pulled over by a statie.

She tried Montana just for kicks:

If you see a jerky headed toward you, it could be a homesteader bringing more people to help with the harvest. He built a house in a coulee, near a river stocked with flat. Last week, he hosted a pitch-in dinner, with guests from all over, including his friend the lamb licker. If he invites you over for the next one, say “yah!”

What cool words do you remember as a kid, or still use today? Meg has to admit, she still thinks a lot of things are “awesome“!

I gotta cut that one out.

8 thoughts on “The Regional Dictionary. Or Pissah, I Still Talk Like That?



  1. I grew up in Southern California, but I always thought the surfer speak was stupid. I guess being a bookworm from a very early age kept me from any telltale regional accents, because I’ve been told I don’t have any accent.

    However, after my weeklong Downton Abbey marathon, I did put on a bit of a posh English accent, even if I only heard it in my head.


  2. Funny! As a native of the Hudson Valley, I worked long & hard to rid myself of my Mid-Hudson Twang plus my New York ax-cent (after being ridiculed in New England by roommates). Now, decades later, there’s only one word that gives me away: water (I practice and practice but it sounds so effected to say wah-ter when it sounds so normal to say wawder ;>) Loved watching the Housewives of South Boston!


  3. I love me a good beyaah. Actually, I can drink beyaah just about any time. Especially at nine in the morning when I’m camping.
    Salt Lake vocabulary: shiz (instead of shit), fetch (instead of f***), cheese and rice! (instead of Jesus Christ), funeral potatoes, the bishop reich, the stake center, family home evening, home teachers, “The Church”.
    Catch my drift??




  4. A few months ago I was on hall duty with another teacher. I mentioned that something was “a little spendy,” and he visibly winced.
    “My wife hates it when people say that,” he said. “It’s such an Oregon thing.”
    I was astounded. I knew that pop/soda and saltines/soda crackers were regionalisms, but I’d never realized “spendy” is a NW phrase. I started asking people from out of state, and they all confirmed it.


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