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Monday, June 10, 2013

St. Louis: A "Soda" Land Bridge to "Pop" and "Coke" Country

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 8:37 AM

click to enlarge Some people wear their allegiances on their chests. - SKREENED.COM
  • Some people wear their allegiances on their chests.

A linguistic study out of North Carolina State went all kinds of viral last week. Perhaps you saw it clogging up your Facebook feed?

The study mapped out the different ways Americans refer to the same thing. For example, what do you call those little freshwater lobsters that live in creeks and streams? Crawdads, crayfish or crawfish? (St. Louisans, FWIW, tend to say the latter.)

The researchers also examined regional pronunciations. St. Louisans, for example, are somewhat an anomaly as we pronounce syrup as "sear-up" when most of the nation's pancake eaters like their "sir-up."

But where St. Louis most stood out in the study of dialects was in the great soda vs. pop debate. And here it wasn't even close.

As you can see in the image above, St. Louis is squarely a "soda" town. But more than that, St. Louis is more like an island -- or bridge -- between the "pop" speakers of the upper-Midwest and the "coke" crowd of the south-central United States. Guess we're not called the "Gateway City" for nothin'?

And it's not just the NC State researchers who've struck upon St. Louis' predilection for the term soda.

Continue on for even more soda vs. pop research and a surprisingly similar map of regional allegiances in the 1800s. The website Pop Vs. Soda has been tracking the great soft-drink debate since at least 2007. Its map below is nearly the same to the one referenced above.

click to enlarge POPVSSODA.COM

Then again, perhaps St. Louis isn't so much a land bridge that allows the pop and coke speakers safe passage to each other's territory. Maybe our use of the word "soda" is more like a grand compromise?

With St. Louis (and much of Missouri) firmly in the soda camp, we help balance out all three terms for a soft drink -- coke, soda, pop -- and thus keep the nation free from strife. It's happened before. Of course, the peace didn't last long. (Let's hope we chose the just -- and winning -- side this time.)

click to enlarge missouri_compromise.jpg

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