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What is the proper way to pronounce “Caramel”? If you live west of the Ohio River, you may say “car-ml” and totally disregard the vowels while pronouncing it. If you live east of the river, you may say “carra-mel”. People often joke about the laid-back West Coasters and the friendliness associated with Southern hospitality, but could the cultural divide be deeper than that? When spending time outside of your geographic area, it becomes painfully obvious that the pronunciation of the English language is different all over the country. With travel becoming so prevalent, simple words like caramel, crayon, and pajamas are becoming a spark for debate between Americans.

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Business Insider recently published a collection of maps that illustrate the different pronunciations and word usage that Americans use across the country. These maps were created by Joshua Katz, based on a nationwide linguistics survey done by Professor Bert Vaux and Scott Golder of North Carolina State University. They effortlessly show regional differences of pronunciation through changing hues of red, blue and green.

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It is fascinating to scroll though these maps and compare your geographical location to your pronunciation of words. It seems that North, East, South and West are not the only things dividing our country. So you may say “carra-mel” and he may say ‘car-ml”, but in the end it is still a deliciously sticky treat.crayon


Photo credit: Joshua Katz, NC State University

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