She ain’t from around here, is she?

Many of my Northern friends have commented on my Texas accent. I don’t think I have one, at least not much of one, but they disagree. I think the difference often comes down more to the word choices we make rather than the sound of our voices.

For example, in the South we use the word “y’all.” It’s a contraction of “you all.” But rather than that harsh New Jersey sound (picture Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny), it has a nice Southern drawl to it.

We also call all soft drinks “coke,” as in, “I’m gonna get a coke. You want one? OK, what kind, Dr. Pepper or root beer?”

This little guy? He’s a doodle bug.

We use the word “tump,” as in, “Don’t swing so high on the swing set. You’re gonna make it tump over.”

And we won’t get into the argument of how to pronounce pecan.

Most of the time, my non-Texan friends and I communicate well, despite our differences. We may hide a grin behind our hands from time to time, but we understand each other. However, in the past few weeks, three words I consider commonplace have stumped my critique partners.

That makes me curious. One partner lives in Illinois and the other in the United Kingdom in the Forest of Dean (but was originally from Australia). Do they not know the words I use simply because of geography?

So I’m doing a survey. Without looking these words up (’cause that’d be cheating), post your answers in the comment section below and tell me what you think they mean. Then tell me where your parents raised you. (Technically, that should say where you were reared, but nobody actually says that word and it sounds weird.) Ready?

  1. Percheron
  2. cup towel
  3. criminently

I can hear my grandmother’s voice on that last one, and it makes me smile. I’m eager to hear your definitions. If you have a word you think we won’t know down here, throw it in, too.

P.S. For those of you who have read and enjoyed Protected and A Father’s Gift, I have an update. I mailed the manuscript for book three, Accepted, to my publisher on Saturday. I hope the new book will be out by late summer/early fall. Squee!

54 Replies to “She ain’t from around here, is she?”

  1. Percheron is a draft horse
    Cup towel is a tea towel or dish towel
    Never heard of criminently
    We called that bug a roll pilgrim. Doodlebugs are the ones that live in the dirt and throw dirt on their backs if you try to dig one up
    I was born and raised in Texas. We called sodas-Pops
    Everywhere I went-other states, I was immediately recognized as a Texan by my accent! Lol

  2. 1. Breed of draft horse
    2. Dish towel?
    3. No clue

    Northeast Iowa is where I grew up and lived until 21. Now live in Missouri.

    Fun stuff here!

  3. Percheron is a gentle draft horse. Cup towel is a dish towel, and my mother and grandmother used “criminelly” (unsure of spelling) as a cuss word. They were Mississippian.

  4. My answers are the same as Amanda’s. No clue really. Will you inform us of the correct usage/meanings?

    Oh, and Amanda, Duckie, do you recall our conversation in the school kitchen when we were discussing the pronunciation of ‘mum’. You insisted you said ‘mum’ as in ‘come’ but we all heard ‘mom’. Fascinating really.

    Let me tell you about the time I lost my handbag in the US and never did get it back because I had not understood the use of the word ‘purse’.

    Lived in Surrey (UK) all my life.

  5. Had no clue to Pecheron
    Cup towel – a tea towel for drying dishes
    Crimently – I would have said had something to do with crime.
    I’m from South Africa but from an English background so speak the Queens English with a South African accent. The people in England laugh when I say milk and when I say “pull your pants up” – to them pants are your underwear and trousers are what you wear on top.

  6. #1 horse
    #2 not 100% sure but I’m assuming a dish towel
    #3 not a clue

    Born in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota, where I still live except for college in South Carolina.

  7. Percheron – I would say this was a horse, but not a word I’ve heard used before
    cup towel – I would think that would be what I would call a dish towel. For drying dishes… back in the day.
    criminently – equivalent to “dagnabit” or “Geez Louise”
    I grew up on the west coast… the whole west coast. It is the home of the null-accent. Any accent I have generally comes from whoever I’m around that has the strongest accent at any given time.

    I call soft drinks soda. My husband from New England called it pop. And he called milk shakes “frappes”. I had a college teacher who said that “youse” is the plural of you. It kind of stuck with me and I tend to use that instead of any variation of y’all. I never say “you guys”. And that bug is called a pill bug where I’m from.

  8. #1 – a draft horse and also a region in France where said horse was originally bred
    #2- l assume would be like a tea towel or dish towel
    #3- I haven’t ever heard of this one.
    I spent the first 7 years of my life in Northern Indiana, and the last 26 in North Carolina. It took us a good year or more before we started understanding everyone down here. I still get stumped on a word every now and then. My family in Indiana say I have a southern accent and my friends in North Carolina say I have a northern accent. I have had many discussions with my friends in NC about the different words we say and foods we eat. Besides how to say pecan, I think the biggest debate we have is whether it’s a sweeper or a vacuum.

  9. 1. Don’t know, never heard it.
    2. A lightweight towel for drying dishes.
    3. No clue.

    I was born in Germany (military), my mom was a half-Puerto Rican who grew up in Hawaii, and my dad’s family was from the south. I grew up in the DFW area.

  10. A Percheron is a horse but I have never heard the other two. I am originally from Wyoming but now live in Indiana.

  11. I know a Percheron is a type of horse. I just read a book where a pair pulled a sleigh.
    The cup towel I would have assumed either what we call a tea towel, or a cloth used as a coaster under a cup.
    As for the other, really? That’s a word?
    I found the others things you mentioned interesting as well. The bug, in my neck of the woods he’s a rolly polly (long “o”).
    I have called soda both coke and pop. Never used tump. Use y’all a lot even now. And I’m not really from the south. Grew up in Missouri where some people called pecans “pee-cans”. Lived almost 35 years in Alaska where there is a hodgepodge of dialects.

  12. I’ve not heard of any of these words. I grew up in Oklahoma for eight years, then Florida for four, then back to Oklahoma for six more. And I’ve always called all soft drinks “pop,” never “coke.”

  13. Never heard 1 or 3 but I have heard cup towel, only we always called it a dish towel. I was born and raised in Texas.

  14. I don’t know any of those, but my husband and I pronounce certain words differently. He was born and raised in Ohio, while I was born in Kentucky and grew up in Indiana. Both my parents were born and raised in Kentucky and didn’t move to Indiana until I was a little over a year old. They had been in Indiana for long enough that I really didn’t notice a Kentucky accent. I pronounce “pecan” the same way they did though. My husband pronounces “pecan”, “pajamas” and a few other words differently and he likes to comment on that fact. Interestingly, both our children pronounce those words like I do-the influence of a mother, huh?

    One of my brothers was born in Indiana and later married a woman from Virginia. They eventually moved to Virginia. Apparently you can pick up other accents because when he came home to visit, he had a southern accent!

    I never knew it but it seems like every state has its unique accent-either that or some people are more in tune to that. When my son was in kindergarten, the teacher’s aide asked where I was from and said she could tell I wasn’t from Ohio. That seemed odd to me as I didn’t notice any difference between my accent and theirs. We lived in Iowa for 7 months and they didn’t really sound any different to me either.

  15. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Percheron or criminently. I believe a cup towel is the same as a dish towel. I was born and raised in Texas. 🙂

  16. #1 ?
    #2 – tea towel
    #3 – illegal act

    Born in Chisholm MN
    Have lived in MN my whole life.
    My brother lives in TX so I’m familiar with a southern accent

  17. I don’t know any of those. However, I lived in Houston for 3 years — originally from Alberta! Acquired an accent. and the lingo — Y’all come back now you hear . . . .I got married in Houston and my family came for the wedding. My brother went for breakfast, paid and started to walk out. The cashier said Y’all come back now you hear . . . and he DID!!!

  18. Percheron is a type of horse, isn’t it? I’ve never heard of the other two words but if I had to guess, I would say cup towel would be a small towel to dry dishes, as opposed to a hand towel and I would think criminently (which my phone insists is spelt wrong) would be a way of talking that was kinda crotchety and grouchy haha! I was raised in the Pacific Northwest

  19. I have never heard of the words – Percheron, cup towel, or criminently – or remember them from any books for studies or personal pleasure reading. My hometown is in SE Pennsylvania, USA.

    When I moved to Houston, the fastest way individuals determined I was a northern girl was by listening to me pronounce “pecan.” On visits home to PA, I was told that I started to pronounce the word, “book” funny. When I returned to live in PA, that was the word that family & friends said took me the longest time to say it “right” again.

    As a librarian, my assistant found it hysterical when she returned to the library from cafeteria duty to find me with a book in my hand at the circulation desk and a puzzled look on my face. She asked me what happened, and I shared that a child had just rushed in, handed me the book, and said, “Put it up.” I said I don’t know what he needs me to do. I don’t know where to put it. Am I checking it in and saving it for him for class time to use? Is he renewing it? Is he returning it? Am I checking it in and putting it on the book truck to reshelve? When she f-i-n-a-l-l-y stopped laughing, she answered my question.

  20. I don’t really know any of those words. Is a cup towel the same as a tea towel? I am from Central Pennsylvania. When I used to visit my grandparents, aunt & cousins in Maryland, people there said I had a Pennsylvania accent. To me they were the ones with an accent.

  21. #1 – horse
    #2 – tea towel or dish towel
    #3 – I have no clue!

    Born and raised in NC. Have lived in Kentucky, Tennessee, and the mountains of NC as an adult.

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