The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Separated by a common language...


September 16, 2020

This ad appeared in a recent alumni magazine of Southern Illinois University. I grew up in southern Illinois and graduated from SIU. I never heard anyone in that region call the two winter accessories by the names in the ad. This example of how words can have different meanings got me to thinking about how separated we are by a common language.

When an alumni magazine arrived a few weeks ago an advertisement titled "Winter is Coming" caught my attention (see photo). The ad was promoting sales for a combination "beanie and scarf set" with the Southern Illinois University logo and colors. I said to my wife, "Whoever wrote this ad is not from southern Illinois. Everyone I knew growing up in southern Illinois would have called those two items in the advertisement "a toboggan and a muffler." And that got me thinking: though we all speak a common language in the U.S., how we use the language varies greatly. We often fail to communicate...

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