Our Northwest

Do Northwest residents drink soda, or pop?

Friday, June 14, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

You’re eating fast food and want a carbonated drink with your hamburger. What do you call those drinks, generically?
   If you said “pop,” you’re a typical Northwesterner. If you said “soda,” you might have grown up in California.
   And if you said “Coke” even though you meant a root beer or an orange drink, you’re probably from the South.
   Those are some of the conclusions derived from dialect studies at North Carolina State University and Harvard. The seattlepi.com reports that in Seattle, 55% of residents say “pop,” 33% say “soda,” and 7% say “soft drink.” Also, most Seattleites pronounce “grocery” as if it were spelled “groshery.”
   How about the foot apparel you wore in gym class – what do you call it? Around here, “tennis shoes.” But if you live in the Northeast, they’re “sneakers.”
   And by the way, the rest of the country likely thinks we’re a bit odd for saying pop. Only 25% of Americans do so, while 53% say soda and 12% say Coke. That’s okay, because we know they’re odd – what’s up with all of them who say “Worshington,” anyway? Or “Aura-gone?” Oregon is right where it’s always been. It hasn’t gone anywhere!
   Sometimes dialect differs even within state boundaries. Seattleites refer to everything beyond the Cascades as Eastern Washington, yet residents of Wenatchee and Yakima say they live in Central Washington. And many Puget Sound residents get annoyed when their Inland Empire neighbors say, “I’m going to the coast this weekend,” when they’re actually driving only as far as Seattle, 90 miles from the Pacific.
   I’ve come to accept the fact that, for Cle Elum residents, everyone who lives west of the mountains is a “206er.” Never mind the fact that I’m actually a 425er, not to mention my 360 kin folk. (Kin folk? That term must have seeped in from someplace else. Probably 1960s TV Westerns.)
   For more fun reading about dialect, see the seattlepi.com feature and results from an older Harvard study.

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