Isn’t it amazing how different people and places are? Especially when it comes to customs, traditions, word meanings/connotations, and cultural distinctions, just to name a few.
I think so.
This past week I received an email from one of my beta readers/proofreaders. She’d read Drew’s Hope, the first book in my Blackwood Brothers series. About halfway through the book, there is a Thanksgiving dinner scene and one of the dishes served was sauerkraut. My reader said she’d never heard of having sauerkraut for Thanksgiving. I was shocked since I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without sauerkraut.
Ironically, in the same book, another beta noted a scene where one of characters used a knife to peel potatoes. In her world, they always used a peeler. In mine, I’d never seen a peeler until college (fyi: I do use a peeler sometimes these days, but rarely for peeling potatoes :))
I find these types of things fascinating and love to learn and hear about them. Some others that come to mind that aren’t related to my books are:
- One of my colleagues from a northern state had never heard a skunk referred to as a polecat.
- An Italian friend’s family didn’t have the traditional turkey Thanksgiving dinner, they had Italian dishes like lasagna and manicotti.
- Some people carry; others tote or pack.
- Soft Drinks: Pop, soda, soda pop, or just Coke for anything that is a cola.
- Pancakes: my grandma called them corn cakes but they were made from flour. I’ve also heard hot cakes, flap jacks and of course pancakes.
- Where accents are placed on words vary. One that comes to mind is insurance. Some say insurance. Others insureance.
- I worked at a visitor’s information center for a couple summers where people came from all over the world to our small historic town. When I gave directions, I’d say, “Go to the stop light.” Some would look at me weird. They were accustomed to using the term traffic light.
- What we call meal time. Breakfast is usually breakfast everywhere I’ve been. But growing up for me, dinner was at noon and supper was in the evening. I still use supper for the evening meal, but have changed to lunch for the noontime meal. However, most people use dinner for the evening meal.
I could go on and on. And I’m sure you have some of your own you could add. Please comment about them! I’d love to hear them.
Another part of language that fascinates me is “sayings.” Like, “we’re gonna have weather, whether you like it or not.” “Fair to midlin’.” “Gag at a gnat and swallow a camel.” (that’s one’s a favorite among several of my friends).
My grandparents had quite a stash of sayings. One in particular my grandma used to say to me when I asked her what she was doing was, “Layovers catch meddlers and you’re the first one I caught.” When I asked her what that meant, she just repeated it. Needless to say, it took me a while to figure it out.
When my beta readers told me about the parts in the book they’d not heard of before, it brought back so many good memories especially about my grandma. She used a knife to peel everything. Of course, when I thought about that, I remembered her sayings. The scraps of pie dough she’d dust with cinnamon and sugar before baking for us to have as snacks. How she ironed once a week and would let me iron the pillowcases and my granddaddy’s handkerchiefs.
Such great memories. I hope it brought some fond ones back for you.
And if they did, I’d love to hear them!!