Has America’s melting pot culture made regional-specific colloquialisms a thing of the past?
Americans have a unique sense of style in most everything they do or say. The English language is constantly evolving due to current cultures and customs but is that always a good thing? Has America become such a melting pot that we’ve lost some of the unique regional terms that make each state and community unique? NPR’s Linton Weeks set out to investigate the effect of technology, time and popular culture on our modern day language.
Weeks says the lines between slang terms, regionalisms and colloquialisms seem to have blurred. With the world getting smaller due to advances in technology, slang terms seem to evolve across the world instead of across small communities.
The reasons behind the emergence and disappearances of certain regional-specific words and expressions seem to be unpredictable. As old terms die out, new ones begin to become popular, and can refer to almost anything. Modern colloquialisms seem to be focused on very community-specific occurrences or ideas.
The Dictionary of American Regional English, also known as DARE, has been studying and documenting this phenomenon for over 50 years. They’ve created an exhaustive list of American colloquialisms from each state that covers almost anything you can think of. In South Dakota, a “soak” is a serious drinker, in Missouri a “hall tree” is another term for a clothes rack, and if you’re feeling finicky in Maryland, someone just might call you “snoopy.”
To see the full list of 51 American colloquialisms and to hear more of his thoughts on the evolution of Americans’ slang, read Weeks’ full piece at NPR.org.