Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What Do You Call a Pancake in North Carolina?

August 8, 2016

Spicy Syrup | UncommonGoods

If you’ve ever asked for a coke, then been asked what kind of coke you wanted, then been utterly confused by the question, you’re familiar with the phenomenon of different areas of the U.S. using different words to describe the same thing. There are more reasons behind these linguistic lunacies than there are words for a sub… or a hoagie, or a grinder (or a hero, a poor boy, or sarney).

In 2002, two language professors, Bert Vaux and Scott Golder, set out to track regional dialect in a linguistics project called the Harvard Dialect Survey. They found that the words people use, as well as when they use them and how they say them, can accurately indicate the region of the country they’re from. Since then, many other sources have generated quizzes you can take that let you put together your own personal dialect map.

Some of our favorite word wars include: flapjacks (North Carolina) vs. pancake (everywhere else); dropped eggs (New England) vs. poached eggs (everywhere else); a cabinet (Rhode Island) vs. a milkshake (everywhere else); a clicker (New England) vs. a remote (everywhere else); and a firefly (West Coast) vs. a lightning bug (East Coast).

Spicy Syrup | $14

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  • Reply Lizz August 22, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    I lived in Florida from about 2 or 3 until I was 10 and we moved to North Carolina (by the way I knew ‘flapjack’ = pancake and the thing about coke = soft drink ).
    I remember a day years ago now, in middle school during lunch we got to choose if we would prefer a hot dog or a cheese dog. Who’s silly enough to get JUST a hot dog when there’s cheese dogs? I chose a cheese dog, took it and went to put my condiments on my food.
    I opened the hot dog bun and found …… a long block of cheese in a hot dog bun.
    I went back to” the lunch lady that had served me and inquired where my hotdog was and she replied “You asked for a cheese dog.”
    And I nodded “yeeeeaaah…..”

    If you ever want a hot dog with cheese in/on it ask for a combination dog.

  • Reply Cassie August 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    This is a great example of one of those regional food things causing confusion. Thanks for sharing! We’d love to hear more stories like this.

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