I grew up in Tennessee. My husband is from Mississippi. And even though our hometowns are only separated by 200 miles, there were some dialectal differences we’ve had to learn to overcome.
For example, he insists on calling the thing you put around your beverage to keep it cold a “huggie,” when I know it should be called a “koozie.” He would go on about a “slug burger” which just sounded awful. (They’re actually quite good.) And what the heck are Nabs, anyway?
But the expression we just can’t come to terms on is “hose pipe.” See, in Middle Tennessee, where I grew up, a hose pipe is what we call the thing you attach to a spigot and stretch out to water flowers. I believe the rest of the world calls it a garden hose.
Not sure the origin of the term hose pipe. I understand the confusion — how can it be both a hose and a pipe — but that’s what we call it. When my husband was fresh out of college he worked as an agronomist in Middle Tennessee. He recalls on his very first farm visit being asked to hand the farmer a hose pipe. After frantically looking around, he finally had to admit he didn’t know what a hose pipe was. It’s a lesson he has never forgotten, but you won’t catch him using the expression.
It is funny to see how terms and expressions change as you travel from region to region, state to state, or in some cases even the other side of town. We’re very rarely more than a short drive away from a different dialect and a new repertoire of words and phrases.
This is very common in agriculture, which already has its own language. But sometimes even those who work in the industry need a translation guide. For example, what Tennesseans may call wild cotton, is a weed known as velvetleaf in other parts of the country. On the other hand, sometimes we use the same word to describe different things. An ironweed in Georgia is completely different from the ironweed in the Midwest. Buttercups can be pretty spring flowers, or a bothersome pasture weed.
What about implements? Is it a hipper, a bedder, or a hipper bedder? Or maybe you call it a lister?
And then there are all the different expressions to describe soils. Do you have gumbo or buckshot ground? Ice cream ground, fire dirt or monkey ground? Hopefully not post oak ground. There are usually enough context clues to surmise the meaning, but it would be great if USDA would include some of these colloquial terms in their soil classification chart.
American English may be becoming more homogenized, but many of us are still holding on to our regional ways of saying particular things — sometimes in very particular ways.