Pushing My Buggy, Er, Shopping Cart

Amish Buggy

This post was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Culture/Relationships.

I’ve lived all over the place. My childhood was split between Tonapah, Nevada and Angeles City, Philippines. I spent time in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Texarkana (Texas), Springfield (Colorado), Fairbanks (Alaska), and now Huntsville, Alabama. I’ve even had some ventures to the east coast in the form of Orlando, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

As much as I have moved and traveled, I can never get used to some of the pronunciations and phrases that are used in the south and several other places.

I Want a Pop or Coke

Whenever someone tells me they want a pop, I think about giving that someone a perpetual smack in the face. A guy who manned the fountain beverages at neighborhood drugstores in the early twentieth century was called a soda-jerk. He wasn’t called a pop-jerk or a coke-jerk.

There have been many times in the south that I have ordered a coke. The waiter proceeds to ask me, “So what kind of drink do you want?” I shrug and reply, “I want a coke.” Little did I know that coke is a generic term in the south and refers to pretty much anything carbonated. I haven’t had this problem much since I started asking for Diet Coke, however.

It’s Pronounced Ne-vaa-da

I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for roughly six years. Not once while I was there did I hear Nevada being pronounced Ne-va-duh (a as in father). I always heard Nevada being pronounced Ne-vaa-da (aa as in apple). Ne-va-duh may be the correct Spanish pronunciation, but the locals call it Ne-vaa-da.

To hear the correct pronunciation, download this wav file: Nevada Pronunciation

Would You Like a Buggy?

Sometimes I would walk into the local area crap-mart (aka, Wal-Mart) and the greeter would ask if I wanted a buggy? I’d sigh and scoff and hesitantly accept the kind gesture. Why in the world is a shopping cart called a buggy in the south?

A quick Google search of the term “buggy” brings several definitions to the forefront:

  • A small light-weight carriage, drawn by a horse.
  • Infested with bugs.
  • A powered cart used to transport golf equipment.

So when someone asks me if I want a buggy, are they calling me a horse since I will be the one pushing it?

A quick Google search of the term “shopping cart” reveals these definitions:

  • A handcart that holds groceries while shopping.
  • A shopping cart (also called a buggy, or a trolley in British English; sometimes referred to as a carriage or shopping carriage in the U.S. region of New England) is a cart supplied by a shop, especially a supermarket, for use by customers inside the shop for transport of merchandise to the check-out counter, and, after paying, often also to the car on the parking lot.

No offense to the Brits, but I would think the southern United States would be extremely opposed to using a term that is British English. However, since a shopping cart is so commonly referred to as buggy down here, I suppose not.

24 Comments

  1. You've missed another meaning of the word "buggy". Here in Canada we call a child stroller buggy as well. 🙂

  2. Do you mean to tell me that all this time, whenever I asked for coke, people gave me the soda drink not because they didn't hear me well? :O :mrgreen:

    J/K. 🙂 … or am I?

  3. Yes Bes. Starting asking for diet coke and people will start wondering what the heck you're trying to say.

  4. I love that question. I personally use Coke for all soft drinks but at a Restaraunt I ask for the one I want by its trade name. But here in Texas I hear it called several things. My father likes to call them soda pops. Sometimes he will say soda water and drawl it out real slow for dramatic effect.

    I don't use pop but have heard it used many times by people that moved here.

    If we have a diverse group over I will offer them soft drinks and then list the trade names.

  5. Joey,
    In the parts of Texas I lived in, it was usually referred to as "Coke" when ordering any soft drink.

    inspirationbit (Vivien),
    A child stroller makes a whole lot more sense being called a buggy than a shopping cart does in my opinion.

  6. Buggy sounds way cuter! 😎 :mrgreen:

  7. I personally had never heard of a shopping cart as a buggy… I've only ever known a buggy as the golf carts lol.
    And Coke! I didn't know that Coke = Carbonated Soda… well, where I live in Aussie I hardly hear 'soda' either, it's mainly soft drink lol.
    Ne-va-da… well. I learnt several things today huh. =D

  8. I lived in Reno for a few years. At first the local pronunciation of Nevada baffled me, since it was a Spanish word. But by and by, I picked it up and can't pronounce it any other way than with the hard 'a'.

    Now I live in London and find that pronunciations and terminology are a constant learning curve.

  9. In the South, "Coke" generally refers to which ever brand of dark soda (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc.) happens to be available. You'll rarely hear a Southerner order a "Coke" and expect a 7-Up or Mountain Dew. Also, Dr. Pepper is ordered specifically. You don't order a "Coke" and get a Dr. Pepper.

    Also, in regards to your statement about British English, Southern English actually bears quite a resemblance to some dialects in the UK. There is some interesting information about this in the Wikipedia (yes, I was really bored one day).

    For another weird Southern thing that I only recently became aware of, take a look at "tobaggan." I always thought those warm sock-like caps you pulled down over your ears in the winter were called "tobaggans." It seems that elsewhere they are called "knit caps."

    The important thing to keep in mind is that language, any language, is organic. It's constantly changing. The main goal is communication. Hence, if everyone in the South understands me when I ask for a "buggy" at Walmart (and I do indeed call them "buggies"), the language has served its purpose. I think the various dialects are fun, and I hope we don't lose them, although I suspect that due to the shrinking of the world, figuratively speaking, we will all begin sounding alike. Sad indeed.

    Take care,
    Nathan

  10. Nathan,

    Thanks for stopping by. Now that I think about it, it would be pretty silly to say I want a "Coke" and then say.. make that a sprite 🙂

    I always thought a toboggan was a sled type thing?

  11. El Yanqui,
    I never really heard Nevada pronounced any other way. Are there any states in the UK that are grossly mispronounced?

  12. Yes, elsewhere tobaggans are sleds. In Alabama we call a sled "a sled," and we call knit caps "tobaggans." Go figure.

  13. 🙂 Actually the shopping cart was first advertised as a “Basket Carriage” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvan_Goldman) which might explain why buggies are acceptable term in some areas, since buggies were slang for carriages. Baby carriages were also called baby buggies, both were pushed in the same way, so this similiarity might have been a factor as well. Anyway, if i hear someone refer to a “basket carriage” as a “shopping cart” or a “shopping buggy” i still understand their meaning. I wouldnt move to the uk and expect everyone to say “shopping cart” or get irritated because i think its the “wrong” way to refer to a basket on wheels, different places = different language which doesnt denote inferiority.

    Same thing goes with “coke”. If someone really wanted to be anal about it, that person should ask for a “coke-a-cola” rather than the general term “coke”. No one i know, asks for a “7”, “dr.” or a “mug”…which “coke”? (classic, diet, one, zero, etc…) If people are gonna be picky about what to call the general term for a soft drink then they should also be more accurate with the name of their own beverage.

  14. goolsby,

    What’s interesting about this post is I’m learning Spanish and I’m trying to pronounce the states and countries as they are translated in Spanish.

    And as I’m learning Spanish, I’ve found other ways to ask for a coke 🙂

  15. I live in Kentucky. When I order a cola I ask for a Coke. It doesn’t matter if it is a Pepsi or not. I never asks for a “pop” in a resturant, but at home I may ask my husband to fix me a glass of pop too.

    As far as shopping carts verses buggys, i say both, but probably use the term buggy more. It’s a southern thing and you just don’t won’t understand if you don’t live here.

  16. I like the localization of words. Makes for a colorful world. I lived in the DC, Virginia, Arizona, Texas, California, and Nevada. I’m writing this in Arkansas where I first heard “Buggy” at the local walmart.

    Try saying this: “Some of Sierra Nevada’s are in Nevada.”

    I believe the mountain range is pronounced as it would in Spanish, but as you know now, the State is not.

    “The hot water in Caliente, Nevada is caliente!”. I’ve heard the city is pronounced “Cali-enny”. When we traveled there, we didn’t get to talk to any locals, so I can’t verify this.

    My wife an I like to use some terminology from New Zealand here in the States.
    Like: “The chilly-bin is in the car, which is in the car park” (The cooler is in the car, which is in the parking lot”). For some reason we find it fun to say in a thick Boston Accent (which comes out like a Kennedy accent): “Paahrk da caaah in da caah paahrk”

  17. I found this post while searching google. Quite impressive too, since google tends to show relatively old results but this one is very recent! Anyway, pretty informative, especially since this is not something many people tend to write something good about. Take care…

  18. Great blog actually! Being British myself its interesting to see some “British English” definitions or alternative terminology.

    I must admit i didn’t realise that “coke” was simply a reference to any type of carbonated drink in general, unless its a “diet”. It would suggest you can only have a coke drink so long as you are prepared to have it with no sugar or add your own!

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

  19. Hey, Tolley is the right word for it! 😛
    (English guy here..)

  20. When you live outside of the US we call these expressions “americanisms” as they exits nowhere else on earth!

    Nice read!

  21. Funny article. It is about the same in New Zealand, more you go in the south, more you can hear “leeg” instead of “leg”, “eegg” instead of “egg” and so on.

  22. I am a North Carolina girl…born and raised. We always ask for the particular soft drink we want. We do not ask for a Coke and expect a Mt. Dew or a Sprite. We do often ask for a Coke and are told the establishment only has Pepsi. Being Southern does not equal being ignorant. I love the diversity in this world. Soda, pop, soft drink…bring it on.

  23. Being British myself its interesting to see some “British English” definitions or alternative terminology.

  24. I was raised in rural North Florida where carts were always referred to as “buggies”. As for “British” lingo, we use many archaic Anglo Saxons words, such as “reckon” and “yonder”.

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