Blog to Self

Friday, February 13, 2009

Language of the Mid-West:

It's a regional 'deal'

I notice that there are some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences in speech patterns here in Kansas:
  1. On KMUW, Wichita's public radio station, when they give the temperature during the weather, they say that Wichita 'has' 56 degrees. Dodge City 'has' 39 degrees. If I remember correctly (I wanted to go online and listen to verify this but I just don't have the time), in Albany they would say that "It's 29 degrees in Albany, 26 in Saratoga," etc. (Actually when Mike Landon gave the weather I would have to stop what I was doing to marvel at how much information he gets into a "short" weather update, only to find at the end of it that the info that applied to me, about Albany precisely, completely eluded me -- I was left not knowing how many degrees Albany had, what temperature it was.
  2. The name 'Arkansas" is pronounced differently within the state of Kansas than it is outher places -- like Arkansas, and the rest of the country. Here they say "AR'-KAN-ZUS", with the emphasis on the first syllable, so it sounds like "Our Kansas." The Arkansas river [Wikimedia Commons map via Wikipedia] goes through the center of Wichita, from north to south. (There's also an Arkansas Street.) Where it starts in Colorado, it's the 'AR-KIN-SAW' river. Then it's the "Our Kansas" River when it crosses the state line. When it gets to Oklahoma, it quickly (and sheepishly?) changes back to 'AR-KIN-SAW' in plenty of time before it crosses into the state with the same name, where they definitely do not say "Our Kansas River".
  3. People use the word 'deal' here in much the same way people generally use the word 'stuff'. This is not unique, but I noticed it because of how often I hear it here. E.g.: "They got one of those social networking deals, where you can post pictures and annoy you friends with useless viral apps, and stuff."
  4. People say "Y'all" sometimes here.
OK so #3 wasn't so interesting maybe. Does this post qualify me for "bonafide nerd"? It occurs to me that the significance of #1 is that it takes less time to say "It's 34 in Chicago, 46 in St. Louis." than it does to say "Chicago has 34 degrees, St. Louis 46." Or maybe it just seems like more of a short-hand. The "has" construct does seem (to me) to be the technically more accurate or plain-speaking way to put it -- though of course neither is "wrong" I suppose. It's just, y'all talk faster back East -- Generally speaking, dontcha know.


  • It's 29 degrees" is correct in ALB.
    And yes, you are a nerd; that's why we love you so much.

    By Blogger Roger Owen Green, at 4:00 PM  

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