Dialect touring

On the face of it, you might think that the trip we’re on is about getting us from New England out to the Rocky Mountains, with a stop to visit a friend in Ontario (thanks again, Alyson!) and our daughter in Wisconsin (love you, Limonada!).

But it turns out that there’s an underlying linguistic logic, at least so far:


We’ve just made a trek from one place in the US that uses “bubbler” for the contraption that lets you get a drink of water in a random hallway to the only other place that also uses the term. I can confirm this usage, having heard it in person in both locations.

And I guess we could say that we’re headed next to the spot on the map most firmly committed to “drinking fountain.” I could say that, but in fact we’re headed to a family reunion, and I feel fairly confident that its location is unrelated to a fierce allegiance to this particular term for the above-mentioned contraption.

I think maps like this are fascinating. There are more where this came from, and I’ll revisit the topic soon. As for Dialect Tourism, traveling from one region of the country to another based on shared (or contrasting) vocabulary usage doesn’t strike me as the most likely of premises, but then again, people travel for stranger reasons.

What term do you use where you live: bubbler, water fountain or drinking fountain?

[Image: New York Times]

One thought on “Dialect touring

  1. Pingback: Hot brown and pretzel jello | Lori Notes

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