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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 10/15/04

Many times, I’m sure, you’ve read Barney Google and Snuffy Smith and said, “Jus’ whar in tarnation do these folks live, anyhow?” Well, today’s installment answers that question.

The various names of a long sandwich on Italian bread (sub, hero, grinder, hoagie, what have you) have long been the example used when discussing dialectical variations in American English, but I’d argue that the nationwide advent of Subway has killed off most of the variants. In my mind, the most prominent remaining geographical tip-off terms are those used for soft drinks: do you say “pop”, “soda”, or “coke”?

Now, I grew up in Buffalo, New York, which is pop country. I remember going to Los Angeles when I was a kid and asking for a pop at a restaurant, which utterly baffled our waiter. I went to college in soda-land, with a lot of kids from New York City, and had the pop beaten out of me by relentless verbal abuse, but I still get excited when I see it used in print. Even if, you know, it’s being used by toothless, semiliterate hillbillies.

Anyway, the first thing I did when I saw this comic was to go to the alarmingly well researched county-by-county map at As you can see, the only traditionally hillbilly-populated areas that fall into the pop zone lie in a relatively restricted corner at the north end of the Appalachians: West Virginia, western Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania (affectionately known by its inhabitants as “Pennsyltucky”). So there you have it, America: we’ve used linguistic science to narrow down the true location of Hootin’ Holler, which we can now thankfully avoid.

I like the fact that printed matter in Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, like the sign in the first panel, is written in the exact same wacky mangled spelling as the word balloons. I’d also like to note that just about every word balloon ends in two exclamation points. If anyone actually gets excited, look out!

Also, while we’re getting all linguistic, I’d like to revisit a comment I made in my last B.B. & S.S. entry, in which I remarked that Whar Th’ Boys Are would be a good beach movie for hillbillies or pirates. Upon further reflection, it seems clear to me that the pirate version would be Whar Th’ Boys Be.

In today’s alarming search engine query, we have a lonely Web-surfing pervert who likes mature, professional women, evidenced by his plugging “+’sally forth’ +nude” into AltaVista.