On How Technology Has Changed the Way We Discover Dialects


Overall, yes, I appreciate how easy the Internet makes it for people to discover dialects and regionalisms. Not just learning of others’, but of learning of your own unique phrasings and common idioms and vowel mergers.

But the change is losing something too, and that’s worth mention. Think, now, of going through your whole college career without that night of hanging out in the dorm lounge, and discovering, in a moment of giddy delight for your friends, a moment which earns you a nickname that lasts intensely for two weeks and then makes occasional reappearances for the rest of your four years, that it is only people from your half of Livingston County, New Jersey (plus a zone around New Danzig, Oklahoma) who have ever called mayonnaise “sandwich gravy”. I don’t know if this is the world we would choose, but it’s the one we’re coming to live in.

Exciting Information About Our Rewards Program


Thank you and greetings to all patrons of whichever brand of gas station this is! We have made some major improvements to our rewards plan. Please do pay attention. All our departments have put a lot of work into making this a thrilling experience. We know Tom from Accounts Discernable would be heartbroken if nobody found out about the glass-blowing workshops. He’s very sure this is going to be the next big experience everyone wants to have and who knows. He could be right. Anyway the principle holds.

We don’t want you to see us as only one of three options for socially acceptable late-night peeing near exit 101 of the Interstate. We want you to see it as the last piece needed to reach a eudaimoniac state. In this all humanity is treated with respect and consideration and dignity. All beings capable of rational thought will be cherished. They will be brought to the fullest expression of their greatest potentials. Also three packs of Bugles are four bucks.

Please review these changes carefully! Teresa Cearley of Hopendyll, Maryland did. She was signed to a big ten-year contract with M-G-M pictures starring alongside Donald O’Connor! Jocelyn van Florp of Glacial Moraine, Wisconsin, did not. The day after she did not, her car was jailed on three counts of aggregated content!

So. We used to have the plan where if you bought six fountain drinks you get a coupon for the next one free. Or where if you bought six coffees you got a coupon for the next one free. First, we’re making clear that tea counts as coffee for the purposes of getting these coupons. You would not believe how much time our cashiers have to spend reassuring people about this. Some days during the depths of winter they’ll be asked about it four times. Which yes, doesn’t sound like a lot. Which yes, doesn’t sound like a lot. But it adds up. Over a full year it comes to whatever four times the number of days in a year is.

Also we count refilling your own travel mug as buying whatever the largest cup smaller than your mug’s size is. Travel mug volume is determined by an integral calculus. We will use integrals of rotated surfaces, best two falls out of three. We are retaining the popular feature where the coupon lasts long enough you forget you have it in the car’s cubby-hole for cell phones.

You continue to earn points by buying stuff from us or using our credit card. We’re also getting ready to release our app. It’s going to offer an exciting new way to earn points where you take pictures of anything, anything at all, with our app. Your car? Sure. Your friends? Yup. The place you’re road-tripping to? Absolutely. Home after a successful trip? Definitely. A cow that amused you all on US 2 in Ohio with how it existed and everything? Yes. An abandoned, crumbling brick factory? Yes. Once you’ve taken the picture call out, “Olly olly oxen free! Olly olly oxen free!” and there you go, points! We’re almost ready to go with this. It’s just the thing you call out set off a frightful argument around here. One faction said “olly olly oxen free”. Another faction said wrong things that were wrongitty wrong wrong and were stupid and wrong as kids. We’ve had to split the development team into four separate rooms, one of them in another building.

But what are points without the chance to use them on anything? Please look at our online store where you can see pictures of:

  • A flat-screen TV
  • Some manner of power tool
  • A foosball table
  • One of those unfolding rubber keyboards that people sometimes roll out and that hooks up to their phones by bluetooth or something and you can’t figure out how they work.
  • A foosball chair
  • An ugly watch
  • A curved-screen TV
  • A blender
  • A foosball sofa
  • An even flatter-screen TV
  • A foosball love seat
  • Movie tickets
  • The abstract concept of social harmony
  • A foosball TV

You can log in using your 24-digit rewards club membership number plus, for safety, the four-digit pin you selected when you got the card in 2009 and don’t remember! It is 1312. Like in the stardate. Remember it by the point-four after that.

Please now pay attention to this video of the third-largest publicly-accessible model railroad in Harding County. Pretty neat, huh? You have to love this bit where it runs underneath the Old New Fulton Street Library. This has nothing to do with the rewards program but we like it. Thank you.

Making Myself Not Understood


I was at Taco Bell, which is a tiny bit interesting because until about two years ago I’d never eaten at one. It isn’t like I have anything particular against Taco Bell, even though their corporate overlords used to have the supervillain-corporate name of Tricon Global, and now have the faintly-Orwellian menace name of Yum! Brands, Inc. I just never got around to it before. I probably should have. I sincerely like their extruded burritos. But I’ve always liked extruded things.

What I want to get at is that besides the seven-extruded burrito and a cheese quesadilla I ordered a pop. I did this because I was thirsty and this was Michigan. One thing I’ve known since childhood about the midwest was that “soda” was called “pop” there. This I heard before the 90s, when everybody got on the Internet and started discussing how they call the same things by different names and how other places than home pronounce words wrong. (That was all anyone talked about online all 1997.) When I moved to Michigan, I found this “pop” thing was true. But the guy working the register didn’t understand me. I said a regular pop, and please, and still didn’t get my point across. So I gave up and said “soda” and that was fine.

Thing is, this keeps happening to me. Or at least around me. I ask for pop from people who should be used to people asking for pop, and they don’t know what to make of that. I’d understand confusion if I asked for pop from someone that would be unusual, such as in New Jersey, at a furniture store, from the guy the building code office sent to check on a crack in a load-bearing pillow. I couldn’t complain much if the guy chose to slug me. But why is this confusing?

I have to figure the problem is my accent. I come from New Jersey, and I’m not more defensive about that than average, and I must just say words like “pop” in ways they don’t understand. I don’t have a very strong New Jersey accent. I routinely surprise people when they hear where I’m from. “You don’t sound like you’re from New Jersey,” is the sort of thing I get. “I’d have guessed you were from … ” and then they’re not able to pin down just where they were thinking I was from, and they knock over a pyramid of soda cans and run away in the confusion.

I know what people expect from a New Jersey accent. It’s a bit loud and fast, with touches of 1940s Movie Brooklyn in it. College football is unpronounced. The average sentence will have something that has to get beeped out. Instead of clearly pronouncing the “-ing” at the end of words, speakers punch something. Maybe a person, maybe a tree, maybe the shoreline, maybe the abstract concept of justice, maybe a vending machine. Just something that’s available. The New Jersey accent is a crossing of the basic Atlantic Midlands dialect with swerving across four lanes of heavy traffic to cut someone off. I haven’t got a strong accent, because I’m too shy to punch an extruded burrito in a Taco Bell in Michigan. Most of my accent expresses itself in referring to Bruce Springsteen as if we were on a first-name basis, taking a surprising amount of guff for talking about people in queues being “on line”, and in getting into tiresome arguments about how people in other states are forced to pump their own gas. Also I expect to be able to order pork roll, although not at Taco Bell. I like to think my natural speech is a good bit rhotic, but I have no idea what that means. I might just want to be rhotic for the attention.

Except that doesn’t make sense because I hate drawing attention to myself. I feel like I’m taking too much of the cashier’s attention just by ordering my food. Going back around and explaining that by a pop I mean a soda, which is how he would have said pop is just horrible. I want to curl up in a ball underneath the plastic packs of chili sauce and go unnoticed, except they’d probably catch me when I snuck off to the bathroom. Except what would I have to go to the bathroom for if I can’t get a pop to drink?