Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dinner and Supper

I mentioned the other day that I have a very rambunctious group of freshmen that meet on Thursday afternoons. I guess that late in the day they have gotten their second wind--either that or they're so tired that they're just crazy. They really keep me on my toes, but they are a good bunch.

Yesterday in class we were discussing grammar, and the discussion morphed into a conversation about differences in the way people from different regions pronounce the same word. One of my students, a young man from Chicago said, "Last week you said the word supper. That was the first time I had ever heard that word, and I had to go ask somebody what it meant." Everyone else in class gasped (except for the girl from Northern Virginia--I think she was familiar with the word but could understand why he didn't know it) in amazement that this guy had never heard the word "supper." He explained that it was "dinner" where he comes from, so I asked him if he knew what dinner is here. He guessed that dinner was lunch, and I told him that he was partially right. I told him that if you have a sandwich at noontime, it's lunch, but if you have a hot meal at noontime, that's dinner. Everyone in class seemed to agree with this idea.

Getting to meet people from different places is one of the most fun things about being a college professor.


Justin said...

I love noticing the different liguisitics of different regions of the country. Its easy to forget how different culture is just a couple hundred miles away.

Its also funny how mass media has changed many of the coloquialisms (sp?) of areas of this country. I hardly ever say supper anymore and I almost exclusively use the word dinner for what we eat at night. Maybe Sunday's are the only time I might say dinner for lunch. But I still know what the words mean. I'm afraid my kids will probably not know what supper is either.

JMG said...

You're right. The proliferation of television and the ability to travel rapidly have contributed to the bluring of regional differences within our country. As people are exposed to new and different ideas, sayings, foods, etc., each region has begun to lose what once made it unique. In a way, it's great that one region will adopt another region's ideas, foods, etc., but then again, it's sort of sad that each region is losing a part of its unique identity.

jettybetty said...

You didn't get into the coke vs soda thing? Or is that one way too old?

Tony Arnold said...

I say send the damn yankees home!

"You know God talks like we do." --Lewis Grizzard


Ayatollah Mugsy said...

Once, at a two-week convention of sorts in Columbia, Mo., I was assailed by a pair of dorm workers for asking if there was a "pop machine" nearby. "What did you say?" they demanded. "You mean the soda machine?"

I come from a split family as far as the dinner/supper thing. On one side, it's breakfast, then lunch, then dinner. On the other, it's breakfast, then dinner, then supper. I go with the flow and try to get four meals out of it, but that doesn't usually seem to work.

JMG said...

We did briefly discuss the soda/pop/coke thing. Everyone not from the South seems to pick up on the "it's all coke" idea pretty quickly.

Mugsy, that's a really good idea, trying to get an extra meal just by using a different label. I'd try that, but I'd be the one having to cook them all!

I agree, Tony; God must talk like a Southerner! Of course, I don't have any evidence for that.

sista said...

In rural NC where my husband is from, it used to be that dinner was the main meal of the day and that was served midday. Supper was much lighter and in the evening.

I say both.

m said...

Yes, my favorite painting is Da Vinci's "The Last Dinner". You can see that not only is Peter really a woman, but that she is from the Midwest as their is just the hint of the "O" from an Ohio State Buckeye's logo on her toga.

Greg said...

I have recently moved to an area of Northern Tennessee that is very country. If you talk to a store owner and he tells you that he is closed for dinner he means at noon he will close. It took me a while to get in the swing of this. My 4 year old never say lunch anymore so environment outside the the home has a huge affect on children. I am still trying to find out how far "Yonder" is and just how hurt you are when someone beats the "far" out of you.

JMG said...

Welcome to the country, Greg!

I think when someone beats the "far" out of you, it's actually "fire." So when you no longer have any fire left in you, your energy is pretty much spent.

Have you also noticed that everything that comes in a can is Coke?