coke dialect information-visualization Innovation maps pop The Internet

Pop vs. Soda vs. Coke

Scenario: you are in a restaurant in an unfamiliar town. You've been seated for just a minute when the waitress walks up. "What'll you have to drink?" It's too early for an alcoholic beverage and you're not in the mood for coffee or tea. Water is for cheapskates and juice is for hippies. But what do you call those sugary carbonated beverages that go perfectly with a burger and fries? Depending on where you are in the country, asking what kinds of "pop," "soda," or "coke" they have on tap has a 66 percent chance of earning you a dirty look. Don't call it pop in Massachusetts. Don't call it soda in Toledo. And now you can see what to call it no matter where you are in the nation: Soft drink dialect The graphic above, from the Pop vs. Soda Page, demonstrates an interesting phenomenon. The United States is permeated by a ubiquitous popular culture. We all watch the same TV, listen to the same radio, and see the same movies. Yet regional differences remain. Even the Web, which spans the globe and threatens to make English the international language, can't stamp out these sorts of things. The Web can make it easier to study them, as the chart above shows. For some verification of the map above, check out the results of Prof. Bert Vaux's Dialect Survey: pop, soda, coke, soft drink (soda is in red, pop in blue, coke in green, and soft drink in orange) People in the northeast and California generally say soda, with outposts surrounding St. Louis and Milwaukee. The rest of the Great Lakes and Midwest region say pop, and so do the Plains and the Pacific Northwest. The only people who say Coke when they point at root beer and Pepsi are Southerners. Coke is based in Atlanta, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe it's related to these maps. The Dialect Survey also answers other questions such as whether you mow your lawn or cut your grass and how to pronounce thespian. I think the most important finding of all this research is clear: about 6 percent of Americans actually call pop "soft drinks," proving that 6% of Americans are annoying jerks.