Business Insider recently posted some awesome data visualization maps by Joshua Katz, an NC State Ph.D. candidate in statistics, which examine linguistic differences across the United States. We examined the maps for clues as to how a true (read:  statistically average) Baltimorean would pronounce such controversial words as “pecan” and “caramel”; the results are below:

  • Slaw (not coleslaw)!
  • Tennis shoes (not sneakers or gym shoes)
tennis shoes
  • Cray-ahn (not cray-awn, not cran)
  • Boo-wie knife (not bow-ie knife)

(Presumably because of the name of the Maryland town — but then why do Texans share this pronunciation? If any readers have insight to share, we’d appreciate it!)

bowie knife
  • Crawfish (not crawdad, not crayfish)
  • Care-ra-mel, 3 syllables (not carmel)
  • Pajamas, 2nd “a” pronounced as in “father” (not as ‘in “jam”)
  • Pee-KAHN (not pick-AHN, PEE-can, or PEE-kahn)

To see the rest of the maps, click here. Judging from my non-scientific eyeballing of the data, in cases where there’s a north/south pronunciation divide, Baltimore is much more likely to side against the Yankees — so maybe we should qualify as a southern city after all!

2 replies on “9 Ways to Know Whether You Speak Like a True Baltimorean”

  1. Baltimore has always been the farthest north southern city. We have never been a northern city–our traditions and heritage– for better or worse– are southern.

  2. The Bowie thing annoys me because nobody understands why Texans know how to pronounce Jim Bowie, Texas hero? Really? I’m from Bowie County, Texas, and yes, it is pronounced the same as Bowie, MD. It’s not hard to find that answer.

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