December 31, 2003

Short Notes on Culture, Language, &c.

WE OUGHT CLOSE THIS YEAR with a rather light-hearted yet serious post, and we found the inspiration for it over at Sheila O'Malley's site. Ms O'Malley, you see, has directed her readers to a particular site explaining the behavioral traits of Rhode Islanders.

We found this site particularly interesting, because it confirmed our inner belief that after close to three years living in New Hampshire, we are starting to learn a bit about how New England works. Indeed, we did know what coffee syrup was, we know what quahogs are, and we know what "ProJo" stands for (but never mind that).

Now, hailing as we do from the Rust Belt, we realize that folks Out West may not realize why this is so significant. After all, most Midwesterners consider "New England" synonymous with "Massachusetts." We realize that will appall many of our friends from New England, but it's true. However, we can assure our readers that in our years here, we have learned that this is very much not the case. Indeed, we don't merely value the differences inherent in each state's culture and ethics, we cherish them.

There's a lot we have yet to learn about the other New England states, true; and we will admit we still don't understand certain things, such as why people from Massachusetts are really, really bad drivers. But we have seen a lot of New Hampshire over the past few years, and we can say that on the whole, it is a very, very good place to live.

One final point: we found the comments about language very interesting as well. While we know few readers have actually heard us speak, we can assure you that we have pretty much* erased any trace of an accent from our voice: it is as Standard American as one can get. However, what we have not lost are all the words and phrases we have picked up along the way.

So I-93, a highway, is rendered as "the 93" or "the freeway"; we sit not on a sofa, but a "davenport;" we drink not pop but "soda," we don't have cravings, we're instead "jonesing;" we refer to all bad traffic accidents as "Sig Alerts," and so on and so forth. This may be why our speech comes off as incomprehensible to most people; but hey. Life needs a bit of variety.

* While likely difficult to notice, we tend to think we retain a minor part of a Western Pennsylvanian accent, as our family is from there. We have found, to our surprise, that we can place a Pittsburgh-area accent despite infrequent visits to the area.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at December 31, 2003 11:55 PM | TrackBack

I have lived far and wide. I have lived in many cities across the continent of the United States of America. And I have never ever ever come across worse drivers than those from Massachusetts.

Posted by: red at January 2, 2004 11:04 AM

Boggles the mind, doesn't it? It makes driving in Los Angeles look like a cake-walk.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at January 2, 2004 04:30 PM

(NB: I am a Massachusetts driver)
If you're driving in Boston itself, I concur with your driving assessment. On the roads in general, however, it's a tossup between Maine drivers (Maine-iacs) and NYC drivers.
On the other hand, Dean Esmay seems to believe that anyone who doesn't drive in Chicago is a [insert epithet here]. Different strokes.

Posted by: Jon at January 7, 2004 03:36 PM


Thanks for your comment. However, blaming Maine will not get the Bay State out of this predicament :-D.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at January 9, 2004 10:41 AM