Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 00:07:39 -0400


Subject: soda, pop, & upstate NY

Larry Horn observe with regard to _soda_ and _pop_ as terms for carbonated

sweet drinks:

| SUpporting what Lynne says below, when I left my native N.Y.C. to attend

| college in Rochester in the early 1960's, one of the sources of linguistic

| culture shock I experienced (besides the open-o vowel, rather than Ňa■, used

| for 'corridor', 'moral, 'forest' and the fact that 'salads' were opposed to

| liquids and gases rather than to sandwiches and soups) was the use of 'pop' for

| what I thought (and still think) of as soda. Rochester is southwest of

| Watertown, and both are far beyond the Gothamite sphere of influence.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's in Westchester County, just north of New York

City. The demographics were complex, approximately 1/3 natives, 1/3 people who

had moved out to the suburbs, and 1/3 families who had moved in from elsewhere

in the country so that the breadwinner could take a job at corporate HQ for

such companies as Shell Oil, IBM, American Can, etc. An awful lot of the

culture clash that this demographic mix engendered was reflected in what, in

retrospect, I would call "linguistic playground wars". People who said coffee

and chocolate with too much of a diphthong in the first syllable were fair

game, and I remember serious shouting matches in elementary school about which

was right, _soda_ or _pop_. Again in retrospect, I suspect that the natives

and the exurbanites used _soda_, while the corporate immigrants brought _pop_

with them. I could easily imagine high school classmates of mine insisting

that they grew up with (imported) _pop_, not even realizing that it was an

imported term.

And now an aside with regard to "upstate" New York. I swear, I wasn't going to

bring this up again, but someone else already did, so here goes. After the

last time we discussed this, I asked my parents. My father, a native New

Yorker who was an Assistant National News Editor at the NY Times in the 1960's

recalls that for many years, perhaps through the 50's (though I'm not sure

of the exact date), the Times had a tripartite division of election coverage:

National, City (the 5 boroughs), and Upstate (including all of NY State except

for the 5 boroughs). I would expect that other news coverage followed the same

schema. Subsequently, a Suburban division was added (that would have, I

expect, included Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland Counties, as well as,

perhaps, Fairfield County in Connecticut and the various counties of Northeast

New Jersey). So, while there's a chicken and egg quality to the question, it's

at least possible that the New York City perception that Upstate begins at the

end of the subway lines in the Bronx is a consequence of the way the Times,

and perhaps other, now defunct, newspapers divided the news. And this account

would explain the disparities between the upstate and downstate definitions of


Alice Faber