Eastern Kentucky University is a diverse school. Students come from all over the country to get a degree. Therefore, they also bring along their different cultures and words that they have grown up speaking. Words that may be common in one region, are different in another, but mean the same thing.
An example of this would be the words “soda” and “pop”. Coming from the state of Ohio, most people refer to soft drinks as pop. When I first moved to Richmond my freshman year, my first experience with the word soda was from my roommate. I remember being like “what?” because I’ve always called soft drinks of any kind, pop.
According to MPR News, the word soda pop came from the 1800’s when the creation of seltzer water began, eventually becoming what we now know today as soft drinks. The word “pop” caught on as slang, and was used more predominantly in the northern states.
Another theory to why northerners say pop instead of soda is because Faygo, the soft drink company based out of Detroit Michigan, marketed their soft drinks as “pops” due to the sound that the can makes whenever it was opened. But pop and soda aren’t the only words that have the same meaning, but differ with regions. There are hundreds more.
The cart that holds your groceries when shopping has many names. Most midwesterns use the term shopping cart when going shopping. I have noticed that the farther south that I go, southerners use a different word for a shopping cart. They call them “buggies”. The term buggy can also be used to describe a child’s stroller or in England, a horse drawn carriage.
In Memphis, Tennessee the first self service grocery store was called Piggly Wiggly. The store opened up in 1916, allowing shoppers to wonder through the aisles instead of handing a list to the clerk, and having the clerk do the shopping for them. Since then, the name buggy stuck, and is still used today in most southern states.
Have you ever noticed the little bugs that light up the sky in the summertime? The bugs that children chase after with a jar, just to see how many that they can catch. Those little bugs can be referred to as lightning bugs when you’re in the eastern United States. But once you cross over into the western side of the country, those little bugs are referred to as fireflies.
According to Insider, the region where lightning strikes the most, the bugs are referred to as lightning bugs. On the west side, the region that experiences the most wildfires, refers to the bugs as fireflies.
There are some occasions where people use both words interchangeably. This can happen if you move to a new location, and to fit in, you pick up the words that everyone else uses. Another way that this can happen is through generations of families. For example, my grandfather is from Tennessee, and instead of saying wash, he says warsh. My grandma started picking up the word, and now she uses it too. As my dad was growing up, both of his parents would use the word warsh, therefore, now he also uses warsh instead of wash.
Hearing people use different words that mean the same thing is interesting to me. Different cultures and people come together and influence others, allowing slang words like “pop” and “firefly” to be popular for their regions. It’s also interesting to know the origins of each of these words and why they are used by people in the region.