2011.08.10 Hot enough for a tonic, maybe even for a dope

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I recently was involved in one of those conversations where people with nothing better to do argue whether a carbonated soft drink should be called “pop” or “soda.” I finally had the motivation to open a new dictionary I recently purchased and found the answer, and a lot more.

My new reference volume is the latest edition of the American Heritage College Dictionary. I bought my first one back in college, after my freshman English professor gave it a ringing endorsement. If he’s still with us, I’m sure Dr. Hoffman would be proud I continue to heed his advice.

As to the pop vs. soda question, it pretty much comes down to where you were raised. According to the dictionary, the name soda is commonly used in the northeast United States and in the eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois areas surrounding St. Louis. From the midwest to the west coast, pop is the preferred term. Then it starts to get interesting.

In the South, except for South Carolina, the word “coke” is often used, even if you’re planning to buy a Pepsi. Other terms used in the South are “cold drink” or simply “drink”. Then, I guess, you have to explain what brand of coke or cold drink you want.

In the area surrounding Boston and in western Maryland, “tonic” is the preferred term. And in South Carolina, you say the word “dope” when you mean a cola-flavored soft drink. They must prefer non-colas down there because I sure wouldn’t want to order a large dope.

The more I leafed through my new dictionary, the more odd little items I came across. For example, In Pennsylvania, the word “smearcase” is often used to describe what we in this area call cottage cheese, and “gum band” is used instead of rubber band, making it possible to use gum bands to secure the lid to the smearcase.

Then there’s “olicook,” which to folks in New York’s Hudson Valley is the little delight we call a doughnut. Woodchuck is pretty much interchangeable with groundhog, except in the Appalachian Mountains, where the rodent is also known as a whistle pig.

Depending on where you live, a stream might be called a creek, a crick, a kill, a brook, a branch or a run. Take your pick.

It annoys me when I see “mic” used as a short form for microphone instead of the term “mike” I grew up with. I was glad to see the dictionary still lists “mike” first, although the dreaded “mic” is also included.

There’s quite a debate over whether the term “compact disc” is correct, or whether it should be “compact disk”. Disk was originally the preferred term in America, with disc used in Great Britain. After the development of the phonograph record in the late 1800s, disc became the popular spelling on both sides of the ocean.

With the advent of computer storage devices, disk was used by those in the computer industry, but when the CD was developed for use by the music industry, the familiar disc spelling was kept. Today, whether the product is used mainly for entertainment or serious computing decides the spelling.

Speaking of discs, I got a kick out of looking up some famous names in the music industry. For instance, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley all get a separate listing, but Little Richard, Bill Haley and Carl Perkins are out of luck. Then there’s the case of The Beatles.

Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney are defined as British musicians and composers who, with the help of the other, wrote many of the Beatles songs. Even Ringo Starr makes the book, simply described as “British musician who was the drummer for The Beatles.” 

George Harrison, however, is called a “British singer and songwriter whose best-known compositions include ‘My Sweet Lord.’” I could have sworn he used to be in a group, but the name escapes me... Seriously, the dictionary makes it sound like he was never in The Beatles, the same treatment they give former drummer Pete Best, not to mention former bass player Stuart Sutcliffe, by ignoring them completely.

Johnny Carson gets a tiny mention in the book while Letterman, Leno, Tom Snyder and the rest of the talk show genre are ignored, except for one big, Oprah-sized shoutout, including photo, to Oprah Winfrey herself. I’d bet that was enough to make the dictionary one of her favorite things. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she celebrated with a dozen olicooks. And maybe a dope or two.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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