“Thirsty? Want a_____?”

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I had so much fun with the last two posts that I couldn’t resist adding this one. I am not sure how applicable it is around the world, but it causes great confusion in the United States. When I first moved to New England and requested a “pop” the waitress looked at me with confusion. She really didn’t know what I was asking for. It turns out that “soda” was proper way to ask for a carbonated beverage. Meanwhile I only knew “soda” to refer to a flavorless seltzer added to whiskey as in “whiskey and soda.” In Oregon if I had wanted a whiskey and Coke, I would have had to specify the beverage. Otherwise I would have received club soda.

There are some puzzling aspects to the map showing the distribution of the word for carbonated beverages. In the South, for instance, it appears the default word is “coke,” a reminder that Coca Cola originated in Georgia, part of the South. That reminds me that there are many people who insist on either Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola and find the other intolerable. I drink neither, but could never tell them apart when I did.

At the gym this morning I enjoyed hearing other people pronounce apricot, pajamas and tomato. I also tried to see if anyone could differentiate between Mary, marry and merry. That would be a little harder to ascertain from reading about the distinctions, but they existed. Interestingly each person believed that the way she pronounced a word or the name she gave to a drink or a shoe or a blinking bug was the CORRECT way and any other way was WRONG.

So much for embracing diversity!

38 thoughts on ““Thirsty? Want a_____?”

  1. I think it is the power of advertising that creates habit. In my country, people go to the store and ask for coke. If you give them pepsi, it does not even matter to them. In other words, coke has become a generic name for soft drinks to some people.

  2. I’m digging these maps you’ve been posting lately. I grew up in the midwest, and everyone there referred to soft drinks as “pop” or “soda pop” in those days. When I moved out west when I was starting high school, “soda” was the term of choice. Call it what you will, I drank far too much of it. Thankfully, I gave it up over two years ago, and I don’t miss it at all. I’ve also lost quite a few pounds since I gave it up, although this isn’t the only change I’ve made in my diet.

  3. We grew up saying ‘pop.’ Sometimes now I say ‘soft drink.’ I do like a Coke or Pepsi with a burger or pizza. In restaurants the wait staff are careful to say which of the two they carry and I heard the distributors require that they do that. Heavens, what if they should serve the wrong one!

  4. I had a friend move to Cleveland and say that in that city there is a distinction between the pronunciation of the names Don and Dawn. Where we are from, they are pronounced the same. With my accent, Mary and merry have a slight difference, but Mary and marry are the same. I never thought about it until now.

  5. In England, ‘Soda water’ is what you put in brandy or whisky. Some people (not Londoners) call fizzy drinks ‘Pop’. But the usual generic term, and used in all restaurants and bars, is ‘Soft drinks’. This indicates that they contain no alcohol. Here is an example, the drinks menu from the popular chain, Pizza Express. https://www.pizzaexpress.com/our-food/our-drinks
    I always referred to such drinks by brand name, or flavour. I would ask for a ‘Coke’, Pepsi, ‘Tizer’, ‘Lemonade’, etc.I still do.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. I love these maps. I grew up in Vermont where people drink soda but after traveling around the continent, settled in Toronto where people call it pop. Now, though, I’m back in Vermont for business and I was startled to hear someone at a restaurant order “soda” – funny as that’s what it was for my whole childhood.

  7. You are lucky that you didn’t sojourn in Scotland where the correct term for “soda” or “pop” is “Ginger” – regardless of the flavour or colour of the beverage !

  8. Because we have so many foreign media influences, I can understand each of those is for a fizzy or carbonated drink – but in a NZ restaurant or bar, you need to be VERY specific about what you ask for!

  9. We call it a soft drink or fizzy drink here in Australia but you would need to name the specific drink when ordering ie. Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Solo, Sarsaparilla, Soda water etc 😀
    Jennifer

  10. America is such a huge country, I am sure there is a wide variety of accents and pronunciations. I had a friend whose mother’s name was Merry and I thought it was Mary for years. I had never heard Merry used as a name so I think my ear just heard what I expected to hear.

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