Ask Dr. Joy: Why do we say what we say?

By WEEK Producer

July 31, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 9:55 PM CDT

In this week's Doctor Joy, we take a look at the words we say, and how we say them. So why do we say what we say?

Do you talk funny or is it just your "regional dialect variation?" 

A recent study done by Joshua Katz at NC State University produced some interesting results related to the regional variations on how we express certain things, like the differences between naming a soft drink “soda, pop, or coke”. 

Tonight we do a fun little quiz to see if you can figure out our regional preferences to common items.


1. Let's start with a simple one. How do you pronounce the word AUNT?

a. “Ah-unt” (mostly only spoken in upper Eastern coast)

b. “Ant” (91 percent of Peorians and most of the country pronounce it this way)


2. What do you call rubber-soled shoes worn in gyms?

a. Tennis shoes  (51 percent, mostly in Midwest and West)

b. Sneakers (33 percent, mostly in upper eastern states and south Florida)

c. Gym shoes (uncommon, only 2 percent call them this)


3.  Sweetened carbonated beverage

a. Soda (65 percent, mostly in eastern states, western states and St. Louis area including in Peoria)

b. Pop (10 percent, mostly in northern states but about 38 percent of Peorians' use the word to describe the drink)

c. Coke (14 percent mostly in the South, perhaps since its headquarters are in the South)


4.  What are those big roads that you can drive relatively fast on?

a. Highway (general term for everyone )

b. Freeway (mostly used by people who live in the far West)


5.  What is the distinction between dinner and supper?

a. Same meaning (in Peoria 31 percent of us see this as the same, 24 percent only use the word dinner, 18 percent said dinner is more formal than supper)

b. Don't use the word supper (51 percent of U.S. population call it this, mostly in West and only use the word dinner)

c. Dinner is a more formal meal than supper (9 percent)


6.  Here's a funny one, what do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shinning?

a. Sunshower (34 percent and the typical word it is called in Peoria)

b. No word for it (typical response of Americans)

c. The devil is beating is wife (used mostly in the South, 6 percent)

d. Monkey's wedding (less than 1 percent)


Another interesting find from the study, if you want to be comfortable and not stand out as a tourist, Peorians' would find that people in Omaha, Neb., Lincoln, Neb., Indianapolis and St. Louis generally use the same dialect as we do.

For more information or to see the entire survey you can go to

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