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MIT student blogger Jessie L. '07

My Old Kentucky Home by Jessie L. '07

It’s been a while since my last entry. Right now I’m visiting my mom, stepdad, and four siblings in Louisville, Kentucky, and will be there for two weeks.

You know, until I arrived at MIT, I didn’t think I had a Southern accent. Really, I still don’t think I have a Southern accent. Compared to most people in the South, I certainly don’t. But in my first couple of months in New England, somebody told me I had a Southern accent at least 2-3 times a week (by now, of course, I have a group of people I interact with who have known me long enough to know what I talk like, and therefore don’t feel compelled to comment).

I certainly use some Southern-isms though. I remember that during some activity with my Orientation group as an incoming frosh, we got into a good-natured, vehement argument about what the proper name is for a soft drink. Most people said “soda”. Some people said “pop” (I’m still unclear on what region of the country says “pop”). Myself and the other Southerner in the group said “coke”.

I promise I’m not making this up. In the South, “coke” isn’t just a brand name (and that would be “Coke” with a capital ‘C’ anyway), it’s a generic name for soft drinks. If you go to a restaurant and say “Could I have a coke?” you’ll be asked “What kind?” To me, this seems natural, but several of my MIT friends were incredulous when I explained it to them. By now, though, I’ve learned to use the word “soda” in New England to prevent confusion.

Any other Kentuckians reading this? Or Southerners in general? We’re a bit underrepresented at MIT, especially if you count the Texans as their own region.

Before I lived in Kentucky (we moved there when I was eleven), I lived in Georgia, in a suburb of Atlanta where my dad still lives. By the time you go that far south, you’ve hit the Deep South, where people still talk about “damn Yankees” (and mean something other than the baseball team). I was in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. I had just turned eleven. The Olympic torch was handed off less than a mile from my house. I went to track cycling and softball, and my mom was a volunteer for the mountain biking event. A few months later, I got a letter published in the Atlanta Journal-Contstitution talking about the prison system in Georgia and the benefits of rehabilitation, and the Chairman of the Georgia Department of Corrections read it (and my age with it) sent me a personal letter assuring me that he was a good guy, and an official Atlanta Olympics police hat.

Anyway, I will continue to write entries while on vacation. Send me some questions, guys, if you have any. I feel like I hardly get any questions. I also feel like this may turn into a classic “be careful what you wish for” scenario, but whatever.

6 responses to “My Old Kentucky Home”

  1. Jon says:

    People in the Midwest say pop all the time. Also, I was wondering (uh oh here’s a question) if you could tell me how easy it is to double major in two fields that are totally unrelated. For me I love both physics and literature but I’m concerned that it will be too tough to try to get degrees in both. Thanks

  2. Fiona says:

    Well, I live in New Mexico (which is not the south, not Texas and NOT Mexico) and I have heard tons of people say ‘coke.’ In fact, I say it myself. Aren’t ‘pop’ and ‘soda’ what people said in like 1955? That’s what I always thought, but then, I live in New Mexico….

  3. Mollie says:

    I’m from Ohio, and I always said pop.

    When I was a prefrosh at Random, the house president took me on a tour of the dorm, and by the time we got to the end, I was really thirsty. There was a fridge chock full of carbonated beverages, and I asked “Is that pop for anyone, or just house residents?”

    Everyone started laughing and I had NO IDEA WHY.

  4. Mitra says:

    So I use the word “sprinkles” for the colorful, confetti-like candy one *sprinkles* on top of ice cream. Is this uncommon?!

  5. Funny, I’m from NY and I also say coke.

    I also say sprinkles, and most ice cream places here even have ‘sprinkles’ on their menu.

  6. Betsy Markum says:

    I can’t believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $31407. Isn’t that crazy!