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Etymologies and Dialects

by jonadab (Parson)
on Sep 09, 2003 at 13:01 UTC ( #290017=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to I refer to a non-specified carbonated beverage as a:

The terms 'soda' and 'pop' are both shortened forms of 'soda-pop', a moniker given to this type of beverage by a confused person who believed the popping bubbles were due to the presense of soda (sodium bicarbonate), as with certain popular bathtub toys. This is of course wrong, as if you put enough soda in the beverage to make it fizzle and pop, you wouldn't be able to stand to drink it. Soda tastes pretty nasty. Since the popping actually comes from carbonation, the correct term would have been 'carbo-pop', but for some reason that never caught on. (Go figure.)

What people call such beverages is highly regional. Most of the midwestern US[1] calls them 'pop', but 'soda' is more prevalent in the south. Other regions have their own preferences. I believe the term 'coke' is used mostly in areas where Coca-Cola has a much stronger influence than Pepsico -- near Atlanta, and in southern California, for example, and in many countries outside the US. (Coke is more international than Pepsi.) 'fizzy' is I believe used almost exclusively outside the US. I've never heard it called 'tonic', so I imagine that comes from outside the US as well. (To me, tonic is anything zealously marketed as the solution to all problems, and 'fizzy' would be champaign, which I've only actually ever seen on television.)

Due to the highly regional nature of these terms, the advertising industry in the US has adopted the neutral term 'soft drink' for almost all national advertising; hence, people who call it a 'soft drink' probably watch too much television in lieu of interacting with real people. The trouble is, the term 'soft drink' can also be used of non-carbonated beverages, including Hi-C and Kool-Aid.

The term 'carbonated beverage' is used primarily by people who are aware of these issues.

[1] Which is actually a bit east of the middle, but that etymology is another discussion.

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Re: Etymologies and Dialects
by fglock (Vicar) on Sep 09, 2003 at 14:36 UTC

    You must see this :)

      Awesome link.++

      I don't care for calling it a "coke" as often times that is what I get.. and not to start a debate, but it is not my drink of choice, when wanting a soda.

      Anyhow, I believe I ended up calling it a "soda" because of the proximity of where I grew up to here. (which surprisingly your link has both types of folks in that region, as there aren't that many people there, and most of the ones I knew FWIR called it "soda" as well).

      The adult folk used to drive out to Hooper Springs and mix Kool-Aid™ with the water and call force it on the children as "soda" (or "glorified Kool-Aid™").

      (please excuse my reminiscing)


        I don't care for calling it a "coke" as often times that is what I get.. and not to start a debate, but it is not my drink of choice

        Personally, I'm not much for cola either. Give me tapwater, or root beer, or skim milk, or Dr Pepper, or Kool-Aid, or Mt Dew, or Sprite, or tea (brewed strong, black with nothing, black with sugar and vanilla, or green with sugar and ginger), or something. I can drink cola, but I don't get excited about it, and I'd rather drink something else.

        $;=sub{$/};@;=map{my($a,$b)=($_,$;);$;=sub{$a.$b->()}} split//,".rekcah lreP rehtona tsuJ";$\=$ ;->();print$/

      Yeah. Since I'm from Ohio, you can probably guess what I call the stuff. Though, to be honest, I usually refer to a specific type ("root beer", "cola", or cetera), or if I'm including various types of things to drink there are almost certainly some included that are not carbonated (water, Kool-Aid, milk, ..., so I just call them "beverages".

      Oh, a fun thing to do: next time somebody asks you what you want to drink (especially if it's somebody taking your order at a restaurant), matter-of-factly ask for "room-temperature tapwater", and watch the reaction. You get some weird looks. I didn't think anything about it (I drink quarts of the stuff a day) until I saw how someone else reacted. Apparently, it's not high on everyone's list of things to drink. So if I don't want to elicit a reaction I just order the root beer.

      $;=sub{$/};@;=map{my($a,$b)=($_,$;);$;=sub{$a.$b->()}} split//,".rekcah lreP rehtona tsuJ";$\=$ ;->();print$/
Re: Etymologies and Dialects
by ailie (Friar) on Sep 09, 2003 at 23:23 UTC

    Tonic is a Boston term. I'm not sure how far it extends regionally - it may be another odd New England term like frappe. It always throws me for a loop because I tend to think of tonic as having the words "gin and" preceding it.

    I don't know if it's used elsewhere.

      it may be another odd New England term like frappe

      That really made me laugh. Frappe is used all over europe and america (west coast at least).

Re: Etymologies and Dialects
by Steve_p (Priest) on Sep 10, 2003 at 04:20 UTC

    Wisconsin actually provides an intersting split in the "pop" and "soda" usage in the Midwest. Most of the state of Wisconsin would call a carbonated beverage "pop". A local carbonated beverage company used a jingle with the lyrics "I want a pop. I want a Shasta" However, the metropolitan Milwaukee area uses "soda" much more often than "pop". There are actually several differences in dialects between Milwaukee and the rest of the state of Wisconsin that amuse college Freshman for at least one evening.

    Also, if anyone else uses the word "bubbler" for water fountain, please respond to help me trace the Milwaukee dialect.

Re: Etymologies and Dialects
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 11, 2004 at 12:01 UTC
    In scotland the generic name for a fizzy soft drink is JUICE.. confusing to the English but then that is the way we like it. TK Edinburgh

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