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Mim Harrison

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13 Local Words You'll Need To Travel The U.S. (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/09/11 04:25 PM ET

We Americans should all be talking the same by now. Television, chain stores and texting
should surely have expunged from our tongues all those quirky regionalisms.

So why are they still wearing "skips" in parts of Tennessee, "gym shoes" in Chicago and "tennies"
in Southern California, while Long Islanders wear "sneakers"?

How come a "regular coffee" on the West Coast means black but on parts of the East Coast,
notably the Northeast, it comes with cream and sugar?

And something is "wicked good (or bad)" in New England, but "larruping good (or bad)" across a
broad swath of the southern U.S., and either "goodsome" or "badsome" on the island of Ocracoke
off the Carolina coast.

Take a trip this summer around the country and listen to the ways we still talk like we're from here and not there. "Pop" versus "soda" is the classic example, of course.

Here are some more ways that we all still talk the way we talk because we're from somewhere in particular.

You can tell your dinner guests to stick it in your gurrybutt and you won't offend.
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As long as what they're sticking are the empty shells of clams or mussels or lobsters. Gurrybutt is the name of the bowl you toss those empty shells into. "Gurry" is an old New England whaling term for fish offal.

Rudyard Kipling used the word in "Captains Courageous," his 1897 novel about the Grand Banks. Kipling did part of his research for the book in the Massachusetts fishing village of Gloucester.
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Mim Harrison is the author of Wicked Good Words: From Johnnycakes to Jug Handles, a
Roundup of America's Regionalisms
(Perigee/ Stonesong Press).