A series of maps from Reader’s Digest shows the bizarre regional words Americans use for common objects. From “yard sales” to “garage sales,” “fireflies” and “lightning bugs,” it’s a fun look at how geography changes this. Except for one map, which is astonishing.
Never in my life have I been so caught off-guard by a 'regionalisms for certain terms' map. TENNIS SHOES? ALL OF YOU SAY TENNIS SHOES? pic.twitter.com/uXJWZhILed— Elizabeth Minkel (@elizabethminkel) July 11, 2017
The majority of this country calls shoes that appear to be athletic in nature “tennis shoes.” Up to this point I’d only ever heard the term used by southerners over the age of 60, but on discussion it appears that many, many more people use the term.
The sample size of the Reader’s Digest map was 350,000. Being the scientists we are, here at SB Nation, we decided to go for a much smaller sample size: Just us. What did SB Nation employees call these shoes?
Now let’s go to the biggest sample size anyone would have access to: Google. Looking just at the USA, here’s what people are searching for.
What this shows is that, as a whole, the U.S. searches for “sneakers” more than tennis shoes, but it fails to show the regionality of both phrases. Thankfully there’s a map for that, too.
Shout out to Mississippi, the only state in America that searches for “tennis shoes” more than sneakers.
At the end of the day, they’re shoes. Call them what you like — but the idea that “tennis shoes” is the preferred phrase in America is iffy at best.