Regional expressions you didn't always realize were not widespread


Right. “Hella” STARTED as a California thing, circa 1980 (when my then-13-year-old California cousin was using it, but no one else I knew).

I left SoCal in 1981 never to live there again. I might have heard “hella” once or twice before I left, but it hadn’t become mainstream yet. I’d assumed it was imported from someplace else, not homegrown.

For many of the NYT questions I found that I never used 1 or 2 of the choices, often used 2 or 3 of the choices interchangeably, and occasionally used all the rest of the choices. Across the whole survey there were only a couple of terms that I’d never even heard of.

I’m betting the validity of that test is real high for somebody who’s lived and worked in their home town their whole life, and whose parents did the same in that same town. And who don’t read much or consume national media.

Somebody who grew up in a place different from where their parents grew up, who’s since lived all over, is well-read, etc., has much more of a generic American mutt vocabulary and probably even a mutt accent.

I think that perhaps the most important part is having lived all over starting relatively early in life. I get some combination of NYC, Jersey City, Newark/Patterson and Yonkers every time I take it ( sometimes a few questions are different) but every time, my most distinctive answer is “sneakers”. I recognize most of the other words and phrases, but I never use them in the context of

What do you call the rubber-soled shoes worn in gym class or for athletic activities?

I might say “running shoes” if I’m talking specifically about running, just as I suppose I might say “basketball shoes” if I’m talking specifically about basketball - but if I’m talking about what’s worn in gym class, where some people might in fact be wearing shoes specifically meant for running while others are wearing shoes specifically made for basketball, I’m going to use “sneakers” as the generic word. And the fact that I read a lot doesn’t make a difference - although it’s absolutely the reason I understand “trainers”

The quiz did really well for me – putting me in Northern California, where I’ve lived all my life (even nailing the city where I lived for a big chunk of that). I’d be curious how my kids do, since they pronounce “aunt” differently than me.

My wife calls underwear (not sure if she means specifically male or female) something like “chonies”. … a word I’ve never heard anywhere else.

Chonies is just Spanish for underware

That’s a “monkey’s wedding” here.

That would surprise me, but maybe. So much American speech — pronunciation, and words — originated in c. 1960-1990 California, and “hella” fits right into all that so well.

I was returning from Hawaii, and I was across the aisle from a family (husband/wife/ 4? kids. One of the boys (about 7 or 8) was sitting on the row directly across from us, and he was in charge of the box of cha siu bao they were bringing back for grandma. He called them manipua, though. So, I learned how to say cha siu bao in Hawaiian! He was a crack up, because he kept opening the box to look at them. He dropped a few on the floor once or twice.

(Hijack) Were these the steamed bao or baked? I love the baked ones but since leaving California for Texas I have not seen or heard of either kind. Sigh. Same as trying to find good falafel in Texas. You would think in Austin, with all the California immigrants…double sigh.

Steamed. My fav.

I empathize with your disappointment. I once took the train from SF to LA, and the four of us taking the trip decided to go to the bakery in Chinatown (next to the Orange Julius) where they had the best chicken buns. They were closed! I wasn’t in there, but the two who were decided on salami Italian subs. Not great.

Remember how these terms are not widespread? What is a cha siu bao?

Not a regional expression - it’s a Chinese pork bun.

Ah, thank you. I’ve never heard of those.

It correctly said Madison, WI for me and my father was born and raised in Quincy, IL and my mother was born in Narva, Estonia and grew up in an orphanage in Helsinki.

I grew up calling underwear “gochies”. This is basically the informal polish word for underwear, properly spelled Gatki or Gacie. If you look on an english to polish translation program online it will tell you that “underwear” is formally called Bielizna or Podkoszulki, two terms I never heard anyone say.

In his book Family Words Paul Dickson observes that one family called bras “upper gotchees”, which indicates to me that the family was probably of Slavic extraction.

(Polish for “brassiere” is, according to the translator, properly biustonosz. which, again, I’ve never heard.)