50+ Fascinating Maps That Show the Difference in the Way Americans Talk

Have you ever wondered which parts of the U.S. say “soda” and which parts say “pop”? Have you ever wondered which areas pronounce pecan as “PEE-canand which areas pronounce it “pee-KAHN”?

Have you ever wondered how Texans pronounce the word “Bowie” (as in Bowie knife)?

You’re in luck because Joshua Katz, a Ph. D student in statistics at North Carolina State University, is here to answer your questions with 105  charts detailing the differences in how Americans talk.

“Starting with the point-referenced data from Bert Vaux’s online survey of English dialects, we used a k-nearest neighbor smoothing algorithm to estimate the probability of seeing a particular answer — eg, whether a person would say soda, pop, or coke — at every point in the continental US,” Katz, whose work was first published on Abstract, the N.C. State research blog, explains.

“The composite map gives a picture of the overall distribution, coloring each cell according to whichever answer is estimated to be most likely at that location,” he adds.

“The more clearly one answer dominates, the darker the color. Individual maps show estimated probability of each particular answer at a given location, with larger probabilities shown in red and smaller probabilities shown in blue. At the moment, only the four most popular answers for each survey question are displayed.”

From “you guys” versus “y’all,” to “crawfish” versus “crayfish,” Katz has it covered.

Here are our favorite maps showing the difference in the way Americans talk and refer to everyday objects and events:

You can see further details of the model construction here. You can also see the aggregate dialect difference map here.


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(H/T: Business Insider). Featured via Joshua Katz.