Georgia Pecans

See this nut? We’ve posted about how pecans are grown, their nutritional benefits and our favorite pecan recipes, but we’ve never really discussed a popular topic of debate: Are they pee-KAHNs, pee-CANs, PEE-cans, pick-AHNs or some other pronunciation? How do YOU say pecan?

See More: Nuts About Pecans 

Turns out, it depends on where you’re from. Joshua Katz, a doctoral student studying statistics at NC State University, recently created interactive dialect maps using data from Bert Vaux at the University of Cambridge. For example, check out the map showing how people pronounce “pecan”:

pecan pronunciation map

It shows that pee-KAHN is dominant nationwide, but in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, pick-AHN reigns supreme. PEE-can is popular on the East Coast and in New England, while folks from Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula go with PEE-kahn.

See More: International Pecans in Georgia

The linguistics department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee just also shared a pecan pronunciation map that gives another option – where people may say pee-KAHN by itself, but then say PEE-can when using a compound word, like pecan pie.

We found this research fascinating, so we’ve compiled a few of these dialect maps related to food. We had no idea that some people never refer to coleslaw as simply “slaw,” if other people also use “caramel” and “carmel” interchangeably, or if there really is a difference between frosting and icing. We did, however, know that The Great Soda/Pop/Coke/Soft Drink Debate will never be resolved.

Take a look at these maps, and learn if you pronounce mayonnaise like the masses, which syllable gets the emphasis in Thanksgiving, or if you’re the odd one out who says something not even provided as an option. Then, leave us a comment to let us know how you say pecan. (For the record, my parents are from Texas and Oklahoma, so I stand firmly with pick-AHN.)

READ ALSO:  USDA Proposes Standards for Healthy Foods in Schools

slaw dialect map

caramel pronunciation map  frosting icing dialect map mayonnaise pronunciation map

crawdad pronunciation mapsyrup pronunciation map Thanksgiving pronunciation map

coke, soda, pop dialect map

50 COMMENTS

  1. I always say “Pih-KAHN” (I’m from NYC but my mom was from Texas) 🙂 Hearing it said any other way sounds completely unnatural. And given the fact that the Pecan tree’s natural range is more southern in North America, I think “pih-KAHN” should be the standard. But it’s not too big a deal. Thanks for posting this, it was fascinating to read!

    • Anything besides pih kahn sounds looney odd to look at a map saying that is not the standard… I think where it grows what they call it should be the standard… from texas they grow here

    • Me too! But I’m the only one I know who says it that way. I grew up in Mass., NH and PA. No southerners in my family. Is it a NY/NJ thing? It’s not even an option on the map…. ‘peh/pih-KHAN.’

  2. I grew up saying pih-KAHN or puh-KAHN, when referring to the nut, but we make and eat PEE-kahn pie.
    My mother is from southern Oklahoma so this influenced our vocabulary and pronunciations.

  3. When we were kids in Massachusetts, we called soda “tonic”. Not sure if that came from my mom who was from the Midwest or if it’s a New England thing. We also called the basement “down cellah”

  4. I grew up in north Florida . My Mother grew up in Georgia. She wouldn’t allow us kids to say “Peecan”. It was vulgar. She said a Southerner said “Puhkhan”. A redneck / hick said “Peecan”. To this day I can’t say “Peecan” I now live in Australia and everyone here (EXCEPT ME) calls them “Peecan”…I hate it!

  5. Reminds me of the old joke: What’s the difference between Florida and Georgia? When you drive into Florida, the first sign you see says “clean restrooms”. When you drive into Georgia, the first sign you see says “Pecans”

  6. Coleslaw by itself…slaw on a hot dog
    Carmel/caramel interchangable
    Frosting/icing interchanable
    Mayonnaise or mayo
    “Sir”up
    As a yankee pee-can and crayfish but after
    22 years with my southern belle…
    Pekahn and mud bugs 🙂

  7. Both my parents were born and raised in New Jersey but although I was born in France most of my childhood and early adulthood was spent in Jacksonville, FL. I say PEE-can (even with pie), slaw, carra-mel, icing, MAY-naze (2 syllables) unique huh?, crawfish, sih-rp (nearly 1.5 syllables), Thanks-GIVing and soda. Now I’m really hungry!
    Seems to be a pretty predictable mix of upbringing.
    I really enjoyed the maps. My original reason for looking this up was for pecan, I heard an Irish chef say pik-KAHN and wondered how that pronunciation traveled across the pond.
    Thanks y’all.

  8. Hey, the New Castle County (northern tip near Philly) of Delaware should be “PEE-can”, “crayfish”, and “searup”. The lower 2 counties have a southern feel and the pronunciations seem accurate for down there.

  9. I pronounce it “puh-KAHN”. Lived most of my life in north-central NC but father from Mississippi and mother from Greensboro, NC. Not sure if that is heard differently from the above four choices. Also, I don’t recall ever hearing “frosting” except on TV ads until my early 20’s. It was always “icing” when I was growing up. Coleslaw was always “coleslaw”. A “soft drink” was either a “Coke” or a “Pepsi”, not interchangable. Maybe that was because in NC you were drink specific, one was either a loyal “Coke” or loyal “Pepsi” person, rarely crossing over. Definitely “sir” up.

    • Hi Alex, I too appreciate the quality of the writing regarding the subject of the pronunciation of pecans.

      xoxo,
      pecan admirer

  10. From the jersey shore and was having the peecan/peekahn pronunciation discussion with my kids. Fascinating to see regional trends. We say peecan
    Soda
    Manaze
    Icing
    Around here though it is interesting to hear how people say water
    You hear a lot of WADer and WOODer. Be interesting to research that one

  11. The pecan map key doesn’t even spell the blue region pronunciation phonetically correct; we say “puh-KAWN” not “pick”. This is what you get when a Hebrew tries to decipher the southern dialect. Nothing against Hebrews I married one and she kaint tawk rat none neether lol.

  12. This is incredible. Thanks for doing the research on this topic. I always thought I mispronounced words due to growing up in the Southeast. I say “coke”, “pee-can”, “craw-dad”, “Thanksgiven”, “sir-up”, “man-aze”, car-mel”, and both”frosting and icing”.

  13. I’m from Houston and me and my family always refer to a sweetened carbonated beverage as a coke but I live in Kansas City missouri and people say soda but I know people who say pop. it’s just so strange. some of my dad’s side of the family is from Ohio and they say coke as well.

  14. PUH-con.
    Nobody eats coleslaw in Texas.
    Car-ml, it really peeves me off when someone says carra-mel, they sound like a complete snob.
    Icing/Frosting are the same thing.
    Crawfish.
    Syrup is 1 syllable serp.
    Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving is Thankisgiving.
    In Texas if you ask someone what the want to drink and they say Coke, you ask them what kind and they’ll probably say “Dr. Pepper”. It’s all Coke.

  15. I say pecan pecon.

    I call a sweet carbonated beverage all four ways. (Soda, Pop, Coke, and Soft Drink) Just depending on whatever one comes to my brain first.

  16. I don’t know what they were thinking when they made the last map.. I’m from Dallas, TX, born and raised, and no one here says “Coke” unless they want a coca cola. Everyone here uses “soda”.

    • I grew up and live in Dallas, too, and we say “Coke” and “Coke machine.” We rarely use the word “soda,” though we do use it sometimes. We offer guests a Coke. They ask “what kind?” Coke, Sprite… I agree that for the longest time Coke and Pepsi were the most popular. Dr. Pepper is popular, too, but I wasn’t a fan. I haven’t had any Cokes or sodas of any kind for about 8 years.

  17. I prefer pihKAHN and I definitely believe that this is one pronunciation that the world should adopt. I just reviewed the history of pecans and noted that they were discovered in Texas and Mexico. So why should we give people from other areas in the US the choice to pronounce it as they see fit? We even let people in the UK the option to pronounce it as they want. I realize we have no way to enforce a pronunciation code, but we can be ascertive. Other populations don’t hesitate to insist that we pronounce words as they see fit, and many of them believe we are among the uneducated masses because we don’t obey their code. I, too, am from Texas and, in the past, I jogged down a country road lined by pecan trees every day. So, give some authority to a native. Pronunce the word pihKAHN. Every other pronunciation is irritating to my nature.

  18. 1. There is also soda pop. (my Oregon granddaughter calls it soda and knows no other name)
    2. Tonic in Mass!!?? That is funny. I wonder what other names there are. ( ‘course, “down cellah” is pretty funny, too )
    3. I have a friend from south Louisiana > mayonnaise is —- MY – a – nez or something un-pronounceable like that.

  19. Same here: grew up in Texas with family also in Oklahoma, so pick-AHN is how we said it too! (Although, I’d fine tune it to pu-KAHN.)

  20. I grew up in Hapeville, just between Atlanta and Hartfied/Jackson Airport, so everybody knows that you have a Coke every THANKSgiving, when you have SIRup on your pancakes. A good southerner also likes manaz on his CRAWfish. PS I also like car a mal on my PEE cans.

  21. Puh-kahn
    Coleslaw (putting coleslaw on other foods is not common in Mississippi)
    We use Caramel interchangeably
    Icing and Frosting
    Man-aze
    Crawfish and Mudbugs when you buy them at the store and crawdaddy’s when you catch them in the
    wild (a.k.a. fish bait)
    Surp
    THANKSgiving
    We used to say “what kind of coke do you want.” But since there’s a billion varieties of waters, energy drink, and ‘cokes’ we now mainly say “what kind of drink do you want.”
    I’m surprised that buggies (shopping carts) didn’t make the list.

  22. Originally from Charleston, WV – pretty much the middle – and our whole family says pih-kahn. Peecans are another name for bed pans.

  23. I live in the Northwest. Because of people moving here from different areas (transplants), most of these words are interchangeable. It depends on the word-influence you had, growing up.

  24. You wanted comments about the pecan, but more importantly is that you left out the word of choice, at least in my Boston, MA, family for a soda: tonic.

    It is always called tonic! Do you want a tonic? Do you want a glass of tonic?

    How could you not include this? Surely we are not an anomoly!

  25. All of my friends in college make fun of me for how I pronounce the word “pecan.” I am from south Alabama and I actually stress both syllables equally in an interesting combination to form the word “PEE-KAHN.” This is how my dad pronounces it while my mom says “pih-KAHN.”

  26. I live in Eastern NC and until someone can explain to me how an A can make the sound of an O it will be pee can to me!!!!

  27. Here in south Louisiana, a lot of us say MY-nez, a borrowing from New Orleans’ unique dialect. Also, the cultural icon and historical delicacy in Cajun country is crawfish. A lot of satires of hillbilly culture use craw dad. Crayfish is considered a snobbish Yankeeism.

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