During once-a-month science lab on Tuesday, the science teacher explained the upcoming experiment to my class. I had a case of deja vu when one of the directions included, “We’ll go to the bubbler…” “The bubbla?” I interrupted. “Where are you from?” You see, being from California which is such a melting pot of the 50 states, regional terms tend to cross pollinate. For example, a carbonated beverage that comes in a can or bottle has varying names depending on where you live. Generally, “soda” comes from the East Coast, “pop” from the Mid and North West, “coke” from the South, and “soft drink” from the South-East. Here in California, I have heard and used all 4 terms equally, and have even combined soda and pop for soda pop. I now use soda almost exclusively, but that wasn’t until living in New England for eight years. Anyhow, my point being that there aren’t too many terms heard while out and about in California that are terribly new or surprising. “Bubbla” is one such word.
Bubbler or bubbla (said with the Boston “r” that sounds like “ah”) is the term used by some for the drinking fountain/water fountain. I’ve never heard it used except when living across the country, and not even very often there. I dated a guy from Rhode Island that used it exclusively and then a smattering of others from New England who used it interchangeably with water fountain. If I had not lived there, I wouldn’t have had a clue as to what she was talking about and therefore had to clarify for the kids that she meant the school drinking fountain.
The science teacher, who has lived here for about 20 years, and I had a good laugh over the word and enjoyed reminiscing about other words that haven’t yet infiltrated their way into SoCal speak. Some of my other favorite East Coast terms and their everywhere else equivalents…
highway – freeway
clicker – remote (control)
carriage – cart (grocery)
bureau – dresser
packie (packaged store) – liquor store
cellar – basement
rotary – traffic circle
grinder – sub(marine) sandwich
jimmies – sprinkles (candies for ice cream)
pocketbook – purse/bag
gravy – spaghetti sauce
quahogs – clams
It’s kind of fascinating that in the same country there’s such a diverse use of language for the same words. In some cases, the words are as if we are speaking a completely different language.