Map: Vernacular across America

Posted to Maps  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

When you talk to different people across the United States, you notice small differences in how people pronounce words and phrases. Sometimes different terms are used to describe the same thing. Bert Vaux’s dialect survey tried to capture these differences, and NC State statistics graduate student Joshua Katz mapped the data.

For example, the above shows how people refer to two or more people. In the north and west, people commonly say “you guys” but it’s “ya’ll” in the southeast.

Similarly, some pronounce “pajamas” with a long “a,” whereas others use a soft “a.”


Then there’s the classic soda vs. pop vs. coke.


There’s a whole bunch more here, 122 maps in total. It’s interactive, albeit a bit slow.


  • My Michigan wife once ordered a “pop” in a bagel shop in Massachusetts and the person, after a long pause, asked if that was some sort of cream cheese. Anecdote delivered.

  • Where is “Yinz” in the first map? Makes me sad not to see.

    • It’s in the original data set at Having lived in WV not far from the PA border that was one of the first things that I looked at. They split it out as “yins” and “you’unz” (which I always interpreted as “younze”). The data sets on the UW site are much richer and are able to show some very localisms – like the Bostonism -“frappe” v. “milkshake” and “tonic” for carbonated sugar water.

  • The study is incomplete… y’all is singular, all y’all is plural…

  • Are there regional differences between usage of “nuclear” and “nucular”, too?

  • Can anyone give me a suggestion how to reproduce such maps in R. I mean the method to make k-nearest neighbor kernel smoothing.

    thank you!


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