Are You A-Where of These Regional Terms?
Despite the homogenization of American language during the past century, many delightful words unique to a certain region survive. Can you match each regional term with its definition AND select the region or state where it flourishes?
Regions: New England, New York, Pennsylvania, South, Southwest, Alaska.
9. Gum band.
A. A lull between waves or wind gusts.
B. "Choose" in "I hosey" when choosing sides in a children's game.
C. A somersault.
D. The 48 contiguous states.
E. An addition to a trailer.
F. An assistant.
G. A tract of low-lying land, especially along a river.
H. A porch or staircase at the entrance to a building.
I. A wooden stake.
J. A rubber band.
Answers (with help from the fascinating Regional Notes in the American Heritage Dictionary):
1. Intervale: G. New England. A village on flat land along the Saco River in northern New Hampshire is actually named Intervale.
2. Tumbleset: C. South. "Set" is a variant of the French "sault," from the Latin "saltus" (a leap), hence, "tumble leap."
3. Stateside: D. Alaska. "Stateside," often used by Americans abroad to describe their home country, is also an Alaskan term for the Lower 48.
4. Stob: I. South. "Stob" is a variant of "stub"; both derive from the Middle English "stubbe," a tree stump.
5. Mozo: F. Southwest. Spanish for "young man," "mozo" originally denoted an extra hand on a cattle roundup or ranch; it has evolved into a general term for an assistant or helper.
6. Slatch: A. New England. "Slatch" derives from the Old English "slaec," the same root that gives us "slack."
7. Stoop: H. New York. "Stoop," from the Dutch "stoep" (front verandah), survives from the 17th-century Dutch settlement of New York City and its environs.
8. Hosey: B. New England. "I hosey" may come from the French "je choisis" (I choose) or the pronunciation of "choose" with a heavy Irish brogue.
9. Gum band: J. Pennsylvania. Many Pennsylvanians are of German descent, and "gum band" is a variant of the German word for rubber band -- "Gummiband."
10. Wanigan: E. Alaska. "Wanigan," derived from the Ojibiwa "waanikaan" (storage pit), originally denoted a small shed towed behind a tractor or train as a shelter for a work crew. (In New England, a "wanigan" is a boat or chest filled with supplies for a cabin or lumber camp.)
Rob Kyff, a teacher and writer in West Hartford, Connecticut, invites your language sightings. Send your reports of misuse and abuse, as well as examples of good writing, via email to WordGuy@aol.com or by regular mail to Rob Kyff, Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.