A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage
I asked first on Instagram and then on Facebook the name of the action my husband was doing in the photo above. It’s been a stress* on our marriage since forever ago. I, hailing from Western Pennsylvania, call that action “weed whacking.” My husband, having grown up in Southeastern Ohio, calls it “weed eating.”
He’s obviously wrong.
I remember the first time he said he was going to go out and “weed eat,” and I just kind of blinked at him. A lot.
“You’re gonna what now?”
And we have this conversation every. single. time. he goes out to weed whack. Which is what it is. Weed whacking. Why? Here’s why, folks. Prepare for me to blow your mind with this logic, with this amazing use of words as an example.
A Weed Eater is a brand of weed whacker just as a Kubota is a brand of tractor. You no more say, “I’m going to go Weed Eat the lawn,” than you would say, “I’m gonna go Kubota up the grass!” No. You weed whack and you mow. You don’t brand name things, people. We learned this in Journalism 101 when my professor chastised us for making Life Flight a verb. You don’t “life flight” someone to the hospital; the patient is flown to the hospital by Life Flight.
QUIT VERBING* THINGS THAT AREN’T VERBS.
So when I asked my friends, a lot of whom live in both Western Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio, to describe the action pictured, I got the answers I expected. People back in the Pittsburgh area referred to it as weed whacking. People in this area of Ohio called it weed eating. People not in this area of Ohio defaulted back to weed whacking by and large. Outlier answers included trimming, edging, weed whipping, and my personal favorite from Natasha at The Stay at Home Feminist and her Chinese in-laws, “whipper-snipper.” My husband now says he will use that term whenever he is going to go whipper-snipper the lawn.
Out of 76 comments on my Facebook post, two of which were from my dad because he is very passionate about weed whacking, I ended up with a total of 85 answers. Those who said both were thrown out because you gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and this is obviously very serious business. This is my marriage, yinz guys! I counted when people said, “I say such and such but my spouse says such and such.” That’s important information to me. I’m pleased to see other people living in multi-regional-dialect homes too; it’s hard at times. We need a support group.
And so, the totals. I know you’re waiting with deep excitement.
Other (trimming, edging, bushcutting, whipper-snipper): 12
And with that, my friends, the discussion is solved. From henceforth, the act of taking the weed whacker out to do that action shall be called weed whacking. Thank sweet baby Jesus, because if I hear weed eater one more time, I’m gonna break that sucker in two over my knee. It’s no big deal though, because recently BigBrother forgot that he likes to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary and referred to it as weed whacking. And my soul leapt with great joy. Great, Western Pennsylvanian joy.
Stay tuned for more installments of Pittsburgh Married Ohio: A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage. While most of these posts will be written with the understanding that my husband is wrong and I am right, I can come up with at least two pieces of regional dialect that will put me squarely in the “wrong” category. Maybe I’ll write about those on days when no one reads the blog. Like Christmas.
stress = Something we fake argue about because fake arguing is the best arguing.
verbing = I can make up words. I’m an editor. But that made my point, didn’t it? Right.