Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pop and Gym Shoes

I was in 2nd when we moved from Chicago to California.  I remember my parents walking me in to Mrs. Kuljin's class - the bells had already rung, the students were in their seats - and we were late because I tried the whole stomach ache routine, then resorted to bargaining, then literally dragging my feet, and then crying.  And then the classroom door opened to my raging red face and by parents holding me by the elbows.  I like to make good first impressions on my peers.

I could say that I got through that day and everything was great and the teacher was nice and the students were welcoming but that would be a lie.  Aside from my obviously awesome entrance that would make any new kid instantly popular, I also had a thick Chicago accent.  There's a video of me, when I'm 6-years-old and talking about ants, that my husband loves to make fun of because he thinks I sound like a tough little old-school-black-and-white-movie-gangster.  It's pretty bizarre sounding to me now so, in retrospect, I'm not surprised I got made fun for it so much.  I'd also get shit for saying things like, pop instead of soda or gym shoes instead of sneakers.  I remember complaining to my Mom, "Maahm!  Dese kids don't even know whaat pahp is overhere.  Dere a buncha idiots!"  It was tough times, man. 
ANYWAYS.  I was thinking about all of this because the fifth volume of The Dictionary of American Regional English was just published.  The volumes are broken up into sections of the alphabet, like an encyclopedia, and the fifth one finally completes the alphabet and finishes up a series that began about 25 years ago - 25 years ago when I started 2nd grade.  This companion website is fantastic - complete with audio recordings from people in different regions.  If you have any interest in the terminology of different American regions, past and present, you'll most likely find this to be a lot more awesome than my 2nd grade classmates found me.


  1. This is hilarious and made my day. Will you please show that video to me someday?