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22 8

Why do some people say "Warshington"?

After moving the Washington State, I noticed some people say "Warshington."

"Warsh" instead of "wash."

Where does this come from?

Western vernacular amuses and puzzles me:

Calling a creek a "crick."

Antlers on the ground are called "a shed."

"Afeared" instead of "afraid."

"I got the allovers" instead of "I feel scared."

Is this Southern lingo?

By LiterateHiker8
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22 comments

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10

"According to John Kelly of the Washington Post (Catching the Sounds of the City), he claims:

"warsh" is the predominant characteristic of what linguists call America's midland accent. The accent can be found in the swath of the country that extends west from Washington, taking in Maryland; southern Pennsylvania; West Virginia; parts of Virginia; southern Ohio, Indiana and Illinois; most of Missouri; and Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, much of Kansas and west Texas.

With the help of Barbara Johnstone, of Carnegie Mellon University, he traces it back to Scotch-Irish immigrants at least a couple hundred years ago.

Midland English is described as "firmly rhotic", where rhotic* (of or pertaining to a dialect of English in which the r is pronounced at the end of a syllable or before a consonant).

Barbara Johnstone, in an interview covered by the article Steel Speak said this:

But some features of the accent of southwestern Pennsylvania are geographically distributed in the same way—in the Pittsburgh area and to the west and the south— as are words and grammatical structures we know are Scotch-Irish in origin. This suggests that these may be older features that spread with the early settlers. One of these is the use of an r sound in the word wash, so that it sounds something like worsh."

[english.stackexchange.com]

@VictoriaNotes

Thank you for your well-researched reply. Well done.

@LiterateHiker Thanks. My mom is from Maryland, born and raised, and although she hasn't lived there for decades, she still says Warsh and Warshington.

@Lutherzme

Interesting. Thanks.

@VictoriaNotes My father was well-educated, originally from IN-KY area...he also said "Warsh"...he never spelled it that way or anything...it was just habit, I guess, from where he was from...he also said "ain't" and a few other things that used to annoy me when I was a punk teenager...thanks for your research...

@Lutherzme I totally forgot about "slippy"...I sometimes say that one myself...funny how certain words get ingrained in your brain even though you know they are not "correct"...ha ha

@thinktwice what is 'slippy'?

@MsDemeanour The roads are slippy today...

6

Most of those don't really bother me but I do get a little concerned when someone wants to "axe" me a question.

4

My roomate at college had a shirt made that said "Warshington State University".

3

Speech impediment

Jolanta Level 8 May 15, 2019
2

Too bad there aint no Geordies in here, from northern England. They could really confuse y'all!

davknight Level 7 May 15, 2019
2

Ah say askeert insted of afeared! But I do call a crick a crick!

davknight Level 7 May 15, 2019
2

Seems Southern to me and I still get a lot of this in Missouri too. When I lived in Texas one of my daughter's teachers always laughed and shook his head if he heard her say "you guys." He would repeat it outloud thinking she was saying "youse guys."

Wait up you guys turns into "wait up youse guys."

DenoPenno Level 8 May 15, 2019
2

I like how New Englanders have a nuanced vowel and pronounce marry, Mary and merry differently. All the same for Westerners, after living there for a while I learned to tell the difference. Famously some Asians can't distinguish R from L and English speakers can't separate some of their phonemes.

Buttercup Level 7 May 15, 2019
2

I've always chalked that up to being a colloquialism. But there can be difficulty deciphering between colloquialism and sheer stupidity. I used to work with a guy who pronounced concrete as "concreek" and worked with a woman who added a T instead of a K as in DEST, as in sitting and working at a DESK.

My number one irritant are people who sell homes and they STILL call themselves REALITORS.... I always steer clear of someone who cannot correctly pronounce what they do.

I think it is fun to bring back old lingo from the past though. My latest favorite... answer anyone who asks me how I am doing by saying, "Everything is Jake!" Meaning, everything is just fine. This is a phrase from the 20s and 30s that for some reason fell out of favor. (As often happens)

RiverRick Level 7 May 15, 2019
2

Beats me say it near DC too

bobwjr Level 9 May 14, 2019

Indeed. I worked in DC for a couple of years and heard it often.

1

I don't know about the state of Washington, but we Mainers (aka Mainahs) have a weird relationship with the letter R. We tend to take them away from where they belong and put them where they don't belong. A good example of adding them would be the word "idea." Most Mainers will say "idear." I don't do any of this of course. smile009.gif

daylily Level 8 May 27, 2019
1

Dropping Rs in the middle of a word is another common verbal quirk. As in pronouncing "quarter" like "quatter." I pointed out to one friend that it's a "quart" of milk, not a "quat."

alliwant Level 6 May 16, 2019
1

Mah next door neighbor is a hangin out her warshin awn the close line!

davknight Level 7 May 15, 2019
1

all areas of the world,,do have various takes on the same word,,lot depends on there principal language and area dialect,,few of those in Canada and we spell a few of our words differently but found out on a tv show this week called Mysterys at the museum ,one of your early presidents at the start of the 1900,s had a reading or writing problem and went to great lengths to get words shortened and even passed legislation on it but it got over turned in later years but some of his modified words are now entrenched in your language just a different spelling like Colour is how we spell it ,and the way english do also but you guys it was shortened to Color leaving the you out,,i always wondered why this was

RoyMillar Level 8 May 15, 2019
1

A matter of regional twists in the language, something like a dialect. Warsh originates in and around Missouri. Yes. Those are largely Southern. A pretty Georgia Peach with a coy drawl can make me weak in the knees. Blue eyed blond Swedish girls in Minnesota rock my world, ya know eh?

Gonna go get a hamburg.

uuberdude Level 7 May 15, 2019
1

I encountered 'Warshintonians" when I lived in Colorado. Near as I kin figger, it comes from the waves of Dust Bowl refugees, who migrated to Californy, and then up the Pacific coast, following the agricultural jobs (esp. fruit-picking), until they ended up in "Warshinton". And yep. Southern English is one of the four main dialects of American English. The others are, General American, New England (" Bahston" ), and Northeastern (" I gotta walk my doag" ). Believe it or not, there are eleven sub-dialects of Southern English.

davknight Level 7 May 15, 2019

during my grade school and high school years in central Oregon we had migrartions of Arkansas residents Arkies moving to the area. also some Okies too

also Oregonians call the state Ora-gun wkile outsiders say Ora-gone

@TheDoubter Okies are OK. So are Arkies. I've always said Ora-gun too; and I've never even been there! (Warshinton was a new one for me though!).

@davknight residents of Precott AZ say Press-cut while outsiders say Press-cot

1

Ignorance?

I don't think it is ignorance. Even when people say 'ain't' they may well write "isn't'. Aint might be their acceptable speech amongst their social group. Don't make the mistake that they are uneducated or dumb.

@MsDemeanour I do not want to start an argument but ain't is an acceptable form of isn't. Warsh is just incorrect.

@Spinliesel

They sound like hillbillies. During the Dust Bowl, poor migrants from Oklahoma moved to Eastern Washington to pick fruit.

Growing up in Michigan, my parents valued higher education, reading, playing music, proper speech and good manners, including table manners. I'm half-Irish and English (not Northern Irish).

When my daughter Claire was little, people were amazed at how articulate she was.

"Claire, how can you stand eating lemon slices?" I asked Claire when she was six. "Mama, if I can eat lemon without making a face, it shows I have good character," she replied.

Never used baby talk. Read to her daily and talked normally.

At 29, Claire is still articulate, intelligent and funny.

@MsDemeanour Aint that the truth!

@Spinliesel Please don't think this is an argument. I welcome your opinion, don't take things said as personal criticism.

I don't think we should make judgements on how people pronounce words. If you're going to take that stance then I could say that Americans mispronounce words all the time. To-mate-o (to-mar-to, ant-eye-vaccine, an-tee-vaccine al-oo-min-um, al-Uh-minium etc. After all, the Engish DID invent the language, I guess they should know.

I don't care how people pronounce words except when meaning is losts. Yrs ago I watched an entire movie with Danny De Vito as an aloooominum salesman. I had no idea what this aloooomin was until years later

@MsDemeanour Thank you for your response. When I say ignorant, I mean knowing the correct spelling, pronounciations or meaning bur willfully ignoring it.
I learned Emglish in 4th grade and would not have gotten away with those "regional" variations. By the way, For forty years now I have struggled with the West Virginian dialetc. I actually need a translator when having conversations with someone from that state.

1

i have some frndz that say warsh. i call what i use to bathe with a 'wash rag'. they call it 'warsh cloth'.
they are from central tx. i'll have to ask where the older ones (g''ma & g'pa) were from

SeeCanU Level 7 May 15, 2019

in australia we would call it a 'washer'. In New Zealand... 'a flannel'

@MsDemeanour i been to AU (Sydney) and NZ (north island) but didn't need a wash rag... we say 'flannel' for a flannel shirt (sometimes). a washer for us would be the metal ring on a bolt.
smile001.gif

1

Having been born and raised in Washington, I heard "Warshington" and "warsh" many times in my youth. Only time I hear it now is from my neighbors who are originally from Ohio. One would think they would realize they say these words differently than the average person, but they don't seem to change the way they say it.

I just have to smile at the charming way they speak, being true to their roots, just as I do with all the many accents and pidgen I hear throughout the day, living in a melting pot of many cultures.

Julie808 Level 7 May 15, 2019
1

I can’t speak to your examples, specifically. But, it’s my understanding that some of what is heard in an accent comes from various parts of England, Scotland and other parts of Great Britain, as English was spoken several hundred years ago.

Rob1948 Level 7 May 15, 2019
1

Some of it is Southern and some country. My ex used worsh for wash, winder for window and such (yes he was a cowboy). I think some of it was simply to annoy me. lol He referred to a wife of a friend as "his old hide" and I flipped out. I told him I might be a lot of things but if he wanted to keep breathing I'd better not ever be called his old hide. smile009.gif

Since living in OK for 30 years I often use "y'all" though I never did when I first moved here. Some of it does rub off on you. "Worsh" and "winder" are probably the ones I object to the most. That still makes me gag.

NoPlanetB Level 8 May 14, 2019

I grew up in Oklahoma and still say "ya'll" because I have never been able to think of a replacement that works. smile001.gif

@Sticks48 Agreed, "you guys" just sound wrong in a mixed group. LOL

@NoPlanetB Exactly. I thought of that one and use it occasionally, but it doesn't work, and just "you" sounds as if you are speaking to an individual in the group. English is hard! smile001.gif

@Sticks48 We fixed it in some parts of australia where we say the plural of 'you' is simply 'yous'

eg Yous bastards are idiots

0

Mate, I can tell the difference between a southern accent and ''the rest of America and Canada" lolol. Sorry but can't tell if a canadian is from USA or not. But I do love different dialects/accents. England gets me......such diverse accents in a tiny little area. There' a 'brash' sounding accent that I don't like (I'll have to try and think of a tv show that does it) but other than that I really love different accents. .....oh except South African. sorry ppl from SA

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