Dialect Debates – You Call That A What?!

Photo Courtesy of Mykl Roventine.
Flickr, Creative Commons.

Leaving Walmart yesterday I decided to write about people who happily peruse a store for 2 hours but, after unpacking their purchases into the back of their Lexus SUV, abruptly become incapable of walking 10 feet to return their grocery basket to the designated area of the parking lot. This sudden onset of disability leaves them with no choice but to roll their basket into the middle of the driving area so the West Texas wind can launch it like a rocket into an unsuspecting vehicle while it’s owner is on aisle 6 weighing the pros and cons white versus wheat. 

When I sat down with my Venti Caramel Frappucino (what? I’m celebrating the fact that the high is 93
°F today. Don’t judge confess my hatred of lazy mega-store shoppers, it suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t write about baskets being carelessly left around parking lots, because only about three people reading my blog would have any clue what the heck I was talking about. 

I grew up calling those things you roll around at the grocery store full of bread and baked beans, “baskets.” 

Then, I met my husband (well, I mean, obviously he wasn’t my husband when I met him…but I think you probably know what I mean). The first time we went grocery shopping together he said something along the lines of “Do you think we need a buggy?”

Photo Courtesy of Mike Cline.
Flickr, Creative Commons.

Um, excuse me?

A what?

Did you just call that thing over there with four wheels a…buggy?

Uncontrollable laughter ensued.

He then assured me that my terminology was, in fact, flawed, since the “baskets” were the little blue things with handles that you carried around if you were just running in to buy some popcorn and a six pack of Budweiser. 

No, actually those are just called small baskets…or…baskets you carry…or baskets that have handles…or baskets without wheels…or something.

The Battle of Deep East Texas vs. Small Town West Texas Terminology

To prove my word was correct, I decided to conduct some very formal research* comparing words used to describe grocery baskets  buggies  those things with four wheels that you push around when you finally break down and brave the aisles of your local supermarket because, if you have to eat frozen peas or dry pasta or whatever is left in the pantry for one more meal, you just. might. die. 

The consensus? 
We’re both weird. 

Several people answered with “basket,” unfortunately every last one of them were from my hometown. A few people said “buggy,” (ahahahaha….that is such a strange word) but all of those responses except one, which came from Sally in Alaska, were from people in East Texas.

The vast majority of responses? 

Well, okay then.

If you people want to be boring and uninventive, you can call your baskets a “cart.” I obviously take more pride in having a extended vocabulary than you do.

What are some regional or cultural sayings you’ve been called out for? 

Here are a couple of mine:

  • I grew up using “fixing to” in the place of “about to.” Ex. “I’m fixing to go study.” I had no idea this wasn’t what everyone said until I was in college.
  • When I was younger my mom would say “oh, you’re trying to get sick.” Not like a literal “you bratty child, stop licking the concrete in attempt to catch something so you can miss school” way, but in more of a “your body doesn’t seem to be doing such a great job fighting this off – looks like you may come down with something” way. When I told my college roommate I “was trying to get sick” she took it very literally…then made fun of me.

Share some of yours with me! I can’t wait to hear them…and tease you. 

*”Quantitative Investigation of Words Used For Rolling Things At Grocery Stores: A Retrospective Analysis.” Jones, et al. Sources – Twitter. Text Messages. Facebook.

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7 Comments + Add Comment

  • We call them trolleys over here – I've never heard of them called baskets (although we do have baskets, but you either carry them or put them in a basket trolley).

    There is a series of anti-drink driving ads here along the lines of "if you drink then drive, you're a bloody idiot" and one of the supermarket chains came out with an ad playing on the word – "if you get trolleyed, then trolley, you're a bloody idiot" – as if you get trolleyed then you're off your face drunk.

    It blew my mind that no one else knew what a ha-ha was (it's a cattle stop consisting of metal pipes layed in a ditch at the end of a driveway), but since I have such a weird mashup of dialects, it's really to be expected. I like I'm fixin' to, I wonder how I can slip it in a sentence. One NZ word that's really risen over the past month is munted – everyone from the people of Chch, the Mayor, the Prime Minister and now Prince William have used it to describe the destruction. It used to just be a bogan term, so weird to hear Prince William say it.

  • I've gotta start with this – I couldn't stop laughing while I read the entire post. I've lived in Boston, MA (and its suburbs); Bethesda, MD; Biloxi, MS; New Orleans, LA; San Antonio & Austin, TX; England; and France. Everywhere (but MA) has called the wheeled things carts and the things with the handles that you carry around the store with you, baskets. In MA, we call the wheeled things carriages, but that's the only difference. I've heard "fixing to" (or, rather, "fixin' ta") used instead of "about to" or whatever, but never the "trying to get sick" thing. I mean, I've heard that before, but I always thought it was like, "oh you want to get sick to get out of school/work" or something.

    Congratulations. You've made a blog-reader out of me.

  • The one word that comes to mind that people make fun of me for is "aunt"…as in my family is from Minnesota but I live in Texas and people pronounce it "ant" in the south. Despite the fact that I do say "fixin' to" and "y'all" and almost every other Texas word I cannot bringing myself to call a family member after an insect. C'mon people there's a "u" in the word! :)

  • Soooo funny.

    Ok, definitely a 'cart'.

    Don't even get me started on how many non-Canadians think we say 'eh' all of the time. Because I sure don't.

    But I do have a fascination with…

    "Do you know what I mean?" when exchaning in some verbal diarreah with a girlfriend. My husband says I say it repeatedly when talking/clucking away.

    Here's a west coast/east coast word I noticed when I moved across the country. I grew up in Ontario, Canada. THere we called the little places made out of logs, on a lake etc. a 'cottage'.

    When I moved to British Columbia, completely across the country, 'they' apparently call them 'cabins'. And look at me with a sharp look of 'what the f' when I call them a cottage.

    Just some Canadian humour.

    Oh, and once when I went to Florida, the lady behind the cash register asked my mom if she wanted a 'sac'.

    A what???

    Ohhhhhh….you mean a bag!!!

  • Apart from the times when I get one with a wonky wheel and a mind of its own (in which case it's called B*ST*RD ~;o) ), we call it a trolley in Cambridgeshire.

  • haha, just browsed to your blog and the first post was a winner. Grew up in idaho and my parents called them…….."baskets".

    They call soda "pop" in idaho.

  • That's so funny, a very similar thing happened to me and my fiance! I'm from the northeast and call them "shopping carts," and died laughing when I heard my Texan fiance call it a "buggy!"

    When I used to be a high school teacher in Texas, my students would all say "fixin to" except they'd shorten it to "finna." As in, "Miss, I'm finna come after school for tutoring." :)

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About The Author

I'm an ObGyn. I started this blog as a medical student (some would call that doctor school) and now I'm working as an Ob/Gyn, which is seriously the coolest job ever. I'm a twin mom and recently added a baby brudder to the mix. My life story through November 2010 can be viewed here. The events in the many years following can be summed up as wedding bells, books, exams, babies, and doctoring. I started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit medicine and move to Hollywood, but that hasn't if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact, I'm probably a spambot. Or possibly a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.

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