Since we are well into January now, I thought I would post about something winter- and book-related.
In both the Elemental Assassin and the Mythos Academy series (and in the Bigtime series too), I refer to characters wearing toboggans, or knit/winter hats. A while back, a reader wrote to me asking if maybe I meant toque (also a winter hat) instead because toboggan can also mean a sled. Honestly, I had never heard of the word toque before, and it never occurred to me to use another word for toboggan.
I think this just might be a regional difference. I’m from the South and in my neck of the woods, a toboggan is a winter hat, and a sled is a sled. If I tell my mom that I’m wearing my toboggan, she knows that I’m wearing a hat. I would never say that I’m going to slide down a hill on my toboggan; I would slide down a hill on my sled.
Since both the Elemental Assassin and the Mythos Academy series are set in the South, I didn’t think anything about using the word toboggan. But I’ve had a couple of folks e-mail me about this now, and I’m wondering what other words/phrases I use that might mean something else or might be interpreted differently in different parts of the country and world.
And it’s not just words — it’s food too. I know when Wheezley and I travel to other places, especially when we go up north, we always wonder if the restaurants will have sweet tea or not. For those of you who don’t know, sweet tea is just what it sounds like — tea that already has sugar in it (usually a lot of sugar). In the South, practically every restaurant (even the fast food joints) will offer you a choice between sweet or unsweet tea. But when we went to Texas a few years back, they only had unsweet tea in one of the restaurants we ate at.
But it works both ways too. For example, I don’t eat grits, which are another Southern staple. In fact, I’d never really even heard of grits until I visited some of my cousins who live in another Southern state where they are more popular. So I guess it all just depends on where you grow up and what you hear and eat along the way.
What about you guys? What regional words or food items have you noticed in books, if any?