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Weekly Writing Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re…

For some of us, blogging is personal. Others are trying to educate or entertain; many more are hybrids. Yet we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges help you to push your writing boundaries, show off your blogging chops, and, hopefully, spark more post ideas.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge or leave a link to it in the comments. (It would also be great if you could link to this post to encourage people to take part – the more the merrier!)  Your post should be specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight some of our favorite posts on Freshly Pressed on Friday.


Slang words roll off of our tongues with ease, connecting us to our geographical, generational, and cultural affiliations. For some of us, online acronyms like IDK and LOL may have quietly slipped into our offline vernacular. For others, our traditional vocabularies may have been replaced by Spanglish or Portuñol words as we communicate in multicultural settings. Either way, language is a constantly evolving force, and we readily accept its forward progress.

At the same time, there are certain regional affectations that remain the same. These phrases and idiosyncrasies tie us to a sense of place and history through a simple utterance, a single word chosen over another while typing. I’m always acutely aware of this each time I involuntarily utter, “I’m going to the Shore this weekend,” in place of “I’m going to the beach,” in front of someone who’s not from New Jersey. We’ve all had those debates with friends about which phrase or pronunciation is correct, with the bottom-line reasoning being, “Because that’s how we say it.”

For this week’s writing challenge, showcase your slang. It can be a display of regional pride, a contemplation on new words you’ve heard, but still don’t quiet understand, or a practice in dialogue that mimics our regular speaking patterns. Need a few ideas to get you going?

  • Pick a word or phrase that is unique to where you live or your cultural background. Tell us a story about how it came about, what it means to you, and how it’s used.
  • Write a post written entirely in slang, dialect, or a regional accent. This can be a way of speaking that is completely familiar to you or a form of linguistics that you’ve always been curious about.
  • Pull a Jabberwocky and practice creating your own slang by sprinkling some made-up words throughout your post. Who knows, maybe one will catch on!

Curious to read what others around WordPress.com have written about, or in, vernacular? Try a few of these posts on for size:

Now, get goin’ and gimme an earful of your favorite colloquialisms!

140 Comments

    1. In Saskatchewan we have a twisted tongue at the best of times… I think it is a regional thing or maybe just boredom through the 6 month winters!

  1. This sounds interesting.

    Problem is, some of us are immigrants with English as a second or third language; and even worst, we are geographically unstable (cruising the world, no address, no permanent residence…) Still, for us the spoken language (second or third) could be even more fascinating. We often detect words or phrases we don’t fully comprehend, and some of them are specific for a site or a culture.

    Right now, I am in a place called The Conch Republic. You probably don’t know it at all… And it is worth a try to expose some of its linguistic peculiarities.

    How long do we have? Until Friday? Will try…

    Good luck to the rest of you!

  2. Oh! This is quite the challenge. I solemnly promise to introduce y’all to a whole new [already existing] vernacular by the end of the week

  3. This is a good idea for a future post . . . but for now, I’ll just comment that down here in Texas, we tend to calculate driving distances in hours rather than miles, as in, “It’ll take you about an hour and a half to get to Houston,” rather than saying Houston is ninety miles away. Also, and this may just be the southeast part, but when someone says he/she wants a Coke, you gotta ask them if that’s a Pepsi or Dr. Pepper or Coke. And iced tea is always sweet tea.

    1. Katie
      Up in my neck of the woods, (30 minutes from downtown Toronto, Ontario) – we would say “well, that’s about 90 kilometres away and it’ll probably take you about 45 minutes to get there”. When someone asks for a Coke – they get a Coke unless the answer coming back is “we only have Pepsi – is that okay?” Ice Tea is always sweet – so when we visit the U.S. – I guess we should be asking for Sweet Tea?

    2. Hi, Kat. Having grown up in the DFW area, I can confirm that to ask for a “coke” is not just a Southeast Texas idiom.

      As far as tea goes, we always used the phrase “iced tea,” as opposed to “sweet tea,” so that may be more of a regional thing. I actually don’t remember anyone referring to it as “sweet tea” until about 20 years after I moved from Texas. Interesting, because I hear it all the time now from others that I know from all over Texas and in the South, as well. Perhaps sweet tea replaced iced tea in my old stomping grounds, too.

      One thing I found interesting after moving to the New York City area is that people don’t stand in line. Instead, they stand “on line,” or they “get on line.”

      1. I guess Texans have a sweet tooth . . . I’ve found that in the majority of the restaurants here, except for a few chains, the iced tea is always served pre-sweetened, and you take the lives of your taste buds in your hands when you request unsweet, because the stuff usually tastes about 3 months old.

      2. Oh, absolutely. If there’s not a visible layer of sugar on the bottom of the glass, it’s not iced tea. LOL

      3. Interesting, I had no idea saying “on line” was a regional thing. I definitely say I “have to get on line” :)

  4. Maybe I was cheating to use a recording of a local ‘Manner of speaking’ rather than writing it all out… I didn’t even write the script for these sketches at the time, instead I jotted a few key ideas down and then just chatted away on the hoof, they make me smile still as I don’t sound like any of them too much but have been influenced by my environment. http://veritykeen.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/listen-to-the-weekly-writing-challenge-monologue-format/

  5. I just had to try this one. Born a cockney, spoke cockney and went to high school so had to speak “proper” english. Then went to Switzerland 46 years ago and am still here living in a country with more dialects than you could imagine and four official languages. I didn’t even know which language to post in.

  6. I tend to make verbs out of nouns a lot, as I did in my latest post. It might be the fact that English is not my mother tongue (it’s my third language), that I sometimes don’t know how else to express things as to use a noun that expresses what I mean, and then make it into something I do. Maybe I should start writing in my mother tongue (= Frisian) then…? Don’t think that’ll expand my audience reach!

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