learning to speak American

translatorIt’s very different from the King’s English, you know, and probably can’t lay claim to any Latin or Greek origins, either. The American language is wonderfully its own, varying from region to region, state to state, and packed with dandy words and expressions, like rumpelkammer (MI), flug (KS), goozle (Gulf region), and pinkletink (Martha’s Vineyard).

The trick is figuring out what the Hell they mean. Seriously. Let’s say someone asks if you’d like a snuggy, how do you answer? Is a snuggy desirable or something to avoid? Is it a drink? A sweater? What? When offered a choice between a smidget and a whoopensocker, which do you choose? And should you thank the person who calls you chinchy? Or punch ‘em?

See? You need an American to English Dictionary to decipher the vast treasure trove of terms. And, surprisingly, there is such a thing. It’s called the Dictionary of American Regional English and consists of five weighty (and kind of pricey) volumes. Simply compiling the words took more than 50 years — Americans are nothing if not verbose. And, judging by this, we can also be quite eloquent at times.


Aren’t they a hoot? Imagine if terms like these had been bandied about in the Presidential Debates. The dialogue, at least, would’ve been entertaining. Instead, we all just feel sneetered.


copyright © 2016 little ittys

4 thoughts on “learning to speak American

  1. I am so happy to know there is such a thing as the Dictionary of American Regional English. I’ve been living in Wisconsin for half my life and am still learning Sconnie speak. People tell me I’ve picked up the accent, which I can’t hear on myself. There are things they say that still puzzle me and now I have a go-to reference, thanks to you!

    And along this line, if you ever hear me say dem, dat, dis, or dare instead of them, that, this or there – please remind me you know for a fact that I am from the heart of Illinois and to just stop it right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me, too. When I read about the books it made my day. As I said, though, they are pricey — somewhere in the neighborhood of $600+ for the full set. But totally worth it!

      By the way, the project started at UW-Madison. Pretty cool, eh? And I will warn you about dis — dem cheeseheads are bad about dat stuff :o/

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s