Social Question

Aster's avatar

In detail, how do the cultures differ between the NE United States and the south?

Asked by Aster (14900 points ) January 26th, 2011

When we moved to Texas from back East as a teenager I was stunned at the differences but I can’t remember what was different except for what the teen girls wore. All my skirts were just above the knee; all they wore were very long, full skirts with crinolines underneath with saddleshoes! I was in stockings by then; not saddleshoes or full skirts. Soon, they all switched to how I was dressing. No; not because I was wearing “short” skirts. haha
How do they differ now?

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45 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

This is my experience

The south:

Says y’all

Almost never acknowledges different ethnicities or race in mixed company (I use mixed company here as a group of people where not everyone is close friends or family). Not even a light hearted comment that is funny.

Is kind to your face, but will quickly talk behind your back in judgement.

Has a whole lot of Christians in it. some of them, within minutes of meeting you will ask you waht church you go to.

Lot’s of Republicans.

Love their guns.

Say ma’am and sir a lot. Even to their parents and other family members.

The Northeast:

Pronounces Mary, Merry and Marry three different ways.

Large cities are very diverse.

Generally people are more liberal minded and more open minded.

More up with fashion.

People are thinner.

Better variety of restaurants.

Their view sometimes is very northeastcentric.

Special Note: Southern FL is the northeast. And, of course these are generalizations, not true for the entire region within each region north and south. Honestly big city small town make a huge difference also. Small towns up north are similar to small towns down south.

When I moved from NY to MD many years ago, what struck me was growing up in NY dating was for high schoolers, and in 5th grade in MD kids were already talking about having boyfriends and girlfriends. Some girls already carried purses. It seemed like MD was much faster to me ironically. I have no idea how it is now. And, my area in MD was barely the south, now it is definitely more of a NE mentality there.

Aster's avatar

“Say ma’am and sir a lot. Even to their parents and other family members.”
Kids are trained from first grade to say “yes, ma’am” and “no sir” to their parents and teachers ; any authority figure actually. And as much as I think it garners respect I wonder if it’s too provincial and would make the rest of the country snicker. In fact, women in their thirties and forties on up answer other women THEIR AGE “yes, ma’am” which makes my blood think of curdling. But even so, it sounds so nice to me to hear teenage boys address adults like this.
The restaurant remark was depressing. How so?

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie about all those things.
What really surprised me was that when I was in sixth grade in Philadelphia, PA, a boy asked my best friend out in sixth grade, but confided in me that she was too young. All my friends thought they were too young in sixth grade to be dating.
I got to NC, and everyone in my sixth grade class had a boyfriend, and frowned on me for not having one.

Schools in the South do not push you enough I find. They allow children to get away with the minimal amount of work required, and if a student puts forth extra effort, it’s frowned upon, and other students hate you for it. I also think that teachers think that their students are incapable, and hardly give them homework if the children complain about it.
They definitely care about sports more than academics. Even the teachers would be more willing to engage a student in a conversation about college basketball than listen to the presentation you were assigned as a project. I once said to a classmate of mind (in the South) that Columbia University was a good school, and he said that their football team sucks. He then said all the northeastern teams suck, and I replied with, we’re a little more focused on academics than the sports aspect of college.
Most of my classmates in NC wanted to go to colleges that had good sports teams, but couldn’t care less about how good in academics the school was.
I’m not a big fan of the South at all, but I guess I’m alone in that one.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess I had never heard anyone comment before on my experience with the dating thing, very interesting you had a similar experience.

@Aster As a northeasterner, the first time I heard a girlfriend of mine call her mom ma’am, I thought to myself how impersonal. My mom is mommy. It also sounded like her parents must be very strict, and probably use corporal punishment. Unfortuneately it turned out all of that was true, just to reinforce my initial inclination. However, I do realize for the most part it is just considered respectful, and simply a cultural thing, akin to using please and thank you. I generally just chalk it up to when in Rome, do as the Romans.

I forgot to add to the south the Miss Firstname. Sounds uneducated to my northeastern ear. Stirs up reminders of the old south; Miss Scarlet, Miss Scarlet.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess oh, about the schools and teachers thinking kids are incapable, that is very interesting to me. I can’t help thinking there is too much children are to be seen and not heard. I chalk it up a little to Chrisianity in the south, and an expectation of obedience that is taken too far. An expectation for people to be passive while learning, whether to question. However, there are places in the south that do have good schools, so again this cannot be one big blanket generalizatiomnthat goes for everyone.

I have a girlfriend who grew up outside of Memphis, taught high school in the same area. She moved to St Louis a few years ago, and she said the schools, and especially the students are vastly different. She is so impressed with the midwest school, and how the students know so much about current issues and participate. She said she had to let go of the idea that they rude or lacked respect because they did not use sir or ma’am, and learned to stop assuming a kid who did not tuck in his shirt was undisciplined. She also said detention worked just as good as corporal punishment.

Aster's avatar

“They allow children to get away with the minimal amount of work required, and if a student puts forth extra effort, it’s frowned upon, and other students hate you for it.” Wow. And wow. It’s still like that after all these years?? I remember it. I really do. In NJ we actually we taught the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Down here and in Arkansas the kids don’t get it. Does anyone care?? And down there it’s “thier” instead of “their.” Maddening.
A couple ladies in their late thirties call me, “Miss Aster.” And I had a housekeeper call me that.
(using my real name, of course).

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@JLeslie I agree with the Christianity thing. I am a Christian, but the way the teachers automatically assume that you are was kind of offensive to me, because I came from a classroom that had Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, and other religions. My teacher would put on gospel music during tests, and I remember thinking that what if someone didn’t want to listen to that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess Holy crap. There are a whole bunch of people down here still upset Christ is being removed from the schools and they think the kids will wind up as hooligans because of it.

@all But it is not all bad in the south. We have met some wonderful people, even if we might differ a little on some things. Midsoutherners are very social, people get together a lot, it is very nice in that way.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Aster Yup, it’s still like that. They don’t even teach or write in cursive anymore. In English class in Philly, if you didn’t write in cursive and in pen, the teacher wouldn’t look at it until it was rewritten in cursive handwriting and in blue and black ink (God forbid you ever used a different color).
As for the writing and spelling, I think they write how the talk, and since their accent draws out vowels, and make some words sound like others, they mix them up. I can’t really say if that’s their fault or not.
For example, with peer editing, one boy wrote “sense” for “since”, but the way he said it, since did sound like sense.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess Down here when people say pen, I think they are saying pin. It isn’t everybody, just some people. But, it isn’t like Northeasterners pronounce everything as it is spelled. Some accents more extreme than others of course. Like anywhere.

I think generally it is not the southern accent that is frustrating to northeasterners, but if they speak slowly. We don’t have the patience for that. What do you think? For the most part my peers here in the midsouth speak at the same pace as me though.

Aster's avatar

Oh, Lord. As in “five since.” This is getting worse. I’ve always heard, “do you have a PIN?” as in pen.
And all these poor girls named Wendy are called Windy. (blood pressure goes up)

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@JLeslie lol, yes, we in the NE have our own accents to deal with, but sometimes I get genuinely confused. When I first moved, I could not understand a word my math teacher was saying, and it wasn’t like I could ask anyone for clarification because they also speak the same way.
I talk at lightning speed and end up having to repeat myself to people because they have no idea what I said. When someone talks with a heavy Southern accent, my mind wanders just a bit as they talk so slowly, and it doesn’t help that I have to try and decipher what they really said. It’s not often I admit, but it can be annoying.
The walking pace above all else annoys me though :D

Aster's avatar

They play some Christian music in the main grocery store chain in Texas on Sundays. I like it but I can see how it could be offensive to Buddhists, right? Not that I’ve ever known one. And in Walmart a “Jesus song” was blaring in the music dept on one of those little things they used to call boomboxes. Seems like it was , “Jesus we really want to thank you” or something.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

I went to Walmart and asked if they had any classical music, and the girl looked at me, then went to go find her manager to ask him what “classical music was”. She said that I was looking for classical music, and that she didn’t even know what it was. Needless to say, they didn’t have any.
I just found that amusing, but at the time, I was frustrated.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

We have created a fairly large discussion with just the three of us.

Aster's avatar

Disgraceful. Didn’t know what classical meant. What is going on??
Do people say, “I ain’t go no..” up there?

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Aster Of course. You’re in Texas right?

JLeslie's avatar

@aster In my grocery stores they play a lot of Elvis, I live outside of Memphis, I love it. :).

There was Q on this a long time ago. I am going to look for it.

Aster's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess Texas, yes. For one year now.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@Aster If you don’t mind my asking, where were you before that?

john65pennington's avatar

Do you really believe there is a difference between the North and the South?

Just because northern people wear snow boots all the time, does not mean southern people, wearing flip flops most of the time, do not have the same things in common.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, I forgot, here is another. Southerners use north as all states north. Northeasterners separate out the midwest and the northeast, so do midwestermers for that matter. I can’t tell you how many times people here in the midsouth say something about northerners and then I find out they are talking about someone in Michigan or Chicago.

@john65pennington Yes, there are differences. People are people of course. We all want to be happy and healthy, the same for our children, family, and friends. But how we see the the world, the US, and some ways that we interact with each other do vary from region to region. Cultural and sociological differences.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Northern people don’t wear snow boots all the time

Aster's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess where before here? Lots of places! Central Arkansas for 10 years for starters.

Aster's avatar

You mean UGG boots? Southeners don’t wear snow boots.

Aster's avatar

Northeners don’t wear flip flops?? Down here we wear flip flops , yes, but mostly sandals with pedicures. I’m gettin in the groove! I’d never wear flip flops except at the pool.

JLeslie's avatar

My mom is from the Bronx and she wears flip flops all summer. Same with my best friend’s mom up in Michigan. And, ironically Nasvhille is full of cowboy boots. Oh, and Texas, that goes without saying. But, I should say, when I talk about the south, I don’t think of Texas being included. Texas is its’ own deal.

JLeslie's avatar

One more. More blonds down south. And, quite a few reverse mullets in this neck of the woods, not sure in the rest of the south. Goodness know Kate Gosselin had one, and I think she lives in PA, so maybe that generalization is a bad one.

Jude's avatar

Big, blond hair. Lots of hairspray.

SundayKittens's avatar

Lord yes, we have more blondes. Southerners have a much different opinion on what constitutes a “southern” state than Norhterners do.

JLeslie's avatar

@SundayKittens So which ones are southern?

SundayKittens's avatar

In my experience, there is a difference between “Southern” and “southern”.
Capital S states were part of the confederacy, and any state that wasn’t is not “Southern”...even if they are geographically and culturally.
Northerners don’t usually differentiate in that way. Does that make sense? This is just in my experience, of course.
@JLeslie You live in a Southern state.

JLeslie's avatar

@SundayKittens Interesting. I have never heard those definitions before. Locally Memphis uses “mid south.” I think of south in terms of atitude, and who lives there, Which is why I exclude southeast FL. I would say northerners also mush together bible belt and southern at times. Like when I am in southern Illinois, and I see a hhhhuuugggeee cross at the side of the interstate. It might be a midwestern state, but then I would qualify by saying it is like being in the south.

That the civil war is still alive to define boundaries is quite dissappointing to me, but a reality. I just came to the realization that all too many southerners worry about the federal government coming down and storming the area, and using their power to usurp state’s power. Leftovers from the Civil War and things like the Little Rock 9 I guess.

JLeslie's avatar

Just to go a little farther on my point. I find it ironic that the southern states seem so quick to accuse people of not being American, not patriotic. But, the truth is they seem to still be vying for the Confederate States of America, not the United States of America. Smaller government to me from a southerner is code word for we don’t care what the yankees think. Maybe I am wrong.

linguaphile's avatar

Aha… this is interesting, listening to non-Southerners explain their perspective of the South, with all due respect. I come from the South (yes, capital S… and I’m definitely not pro-Confederacy) and I see things quite a bit different. To be honest, living in the north (yeah, that broad swath up there) has been a learning experience for me. I find northerners to be cold, critical, uncouth, obsessed about time and schedules, quick to judge, take forever to trust outsiders but a heartbeat to reject them, use silent treatments and shunning liberally. I’m guessing it must be the leftover Puritan or Hessian influences… but then again, I’m generalizing much like the others who seem to think all the Southerners who dare to have a tad of regionalism must be stuck back in 1865. I was raised to think of others’ comfort, be concerned about their wellbeing, hold my mouth about others’ faults (“if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it”), treat others with kindness and respect, and say “bless yo’ heart” when someone’s being an idiot. Yes, there are some values that Southerners hold on to that might seem backward to those who didn’t grow up in the South, but there’s so much to be said for civility- I sure do miss it up here in the north. I fear my transformation into a Yankee… but it will happen as we do eventually assimiliate into the cultures we live within.
Now, how about those Mainahs, New Hampshahs and those from NuYuk and N’Joisey? The Mainahs drive their cahs and eat their bugs and complain about those from away, ayuh? or the MinneSOHtahs, you betcha? Methinks we all talkin’ funny here, not just dem Jawja and N’Awlins people, eh?
Yes—there is a huge different between the Northeast and South and most of it is the delicious subtle everyday variations that people don’t realize exist and, frankly, my dear Scarlett, can’t be simplified into generalizations.

JLeslie's avatar

@linguaphile Hahaha. Very good. Some of your generalizations do fit. But, like all generalizations, it is simply that, and not everyone in the north fits them. Just like not all southerners fit the ones I have made.

I agree the northeastern accent at its extreme is not very eloquent. I also don’t mind a southern accemt at all as long as it is articulate and the pace is at a decent speed. It really is more about how fast or slow someone is talking than anyting. I also don’t like the southern tradition of Miss Firstname, because it sounds uneducated and from a time of inequality. Miss Scarlet, Miss Scarlet, rings in my ears, although I do understand a southerner says it to show respect. The irony to me is to be called Miss firstname, but also to be addressed as Ma’am and not Miss or just plain excuse me, when someone wants my attention. This is not a criticism, just an observation and oddity to me.

The southern “bless yo’ heart” is antagonizing and condescending. A backhanded way of being sweet to your face and rolling ones eyes without actually rolling them. Tis fits with the generalization that midwesterners are down to earth, southerners are nice to your face, and northeasterners are nice if they feel like it.

I actually find people all over the country to be helpful to each other if they have the time, and it is true that people in larger cities tend to have less time, and so when in Boson, NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, DC people are less likely to have time than more suburban and rural plalces. Although, I certainly witnessed and experienced many many acts of kindness in NYC, but as a general rule people are focused and in a hurry. I also experience very good serice generally in these busy cities.

Interesting you mention the silent treatment, because I hate the, in my opinion, passive aggressive use of the silent treatment. I never thought of this as a north south thing. In fact, I would have thought if anything northeasterners are more willing to be direct, and not silent? But that might be a New York thing, and not a New England thing? Not sure? It might just be a depending on the family thing, or a cultural thing? My Jewish loud family doesn’t use silent treatment much. My husband’s Mexican family does (I hate it). I have heard that the Irish keep things in, while the Italians are more like the Jews. That bless yo heart thing, just to bring it up again, is passive aggressive to me.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@linguaphile I never thought as Northerners as quick to judge. Southerners certainly judged me fast enough to dub me a terrorist because
a) My skin color is brown
b) I’m not white, Mexican (they don’t call Latin people anything but Mexican where I live), and I wasn’t black, so just naturally I must be a terrorist from Pakistan.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess You know what I found interesting? My husband and I were in a conversation with very good friends of ours down here in the midsouth. Anyway, somehow the conversation turned to what people call people, and the term Hispanic came up. I actually don’t like the term, my husband doesn’t mind the use of it (he is Mexican). So, our white southern friends asked what I do prefer, and I said I prefer Latin American or the country the person is from. So, one of our friends responded, “I think calling someone Mexican is bad.” My husband and I both said, “no, if they are Mexican how is that offensive? That is preferred.” At first I thought, this is another case where southerners in public go overboard trying to prove they are not racist or prejudiced. I mean in the south I hear so little talk about generalizing ethnicities, nationalities, and cultures, while in the north we do it, we do it about ourselves, even down to food. Also, it shows a prejudice, like there is something wrong with being from Mexico? Something to be ashamed of? Then I realized maybe this southerner meant she calls every Hispanic Mexican? Which is what some of my Michigan friends did. Everyone south of the border was Mexican, ‘cause they are all the same down there, right? To me that is geography stupidity and ignorance. To be honest, I now realize I have no idea why she thought it was offensive.

SundayKittens's avatar

@JLeslie I was just telling someone the other day how my brain still filters the word “Mexican” before I say it because it was a sort of pejorative term when I was growing up. How interesting.

JLeslie's avatar

@SundayKittens Where did you grow up?

SundayKittens's avatar

Oklahoma. Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, and we use “Mexican” as a slur.

SundayKittens's avatar

Well…I don’t. You know what I mean.

JLeslie's avatar

@SundayKittens I never knew it was a slur. Not until you said it now. I was just thinking ignorance on the part of people who use it. Very interesting. Makes more sense now. So it is, when used synonomously with Hispanic said with prejudice ina derogatory manner. My husband would not even know someone was calling him a “name.” LOL. I always tell people it is like calling someone from the US a Canadian, just because we are both from North America. They never seem to get my analogy, now I understand why. It isn’t really about the geography. Thanks.

SundayKittens's avatar

I’m sure it’s not a slur everywhere. I grew up in a small, sheltered town.
It was associated with the influx of Mexicans (see, I even hesitated typing it) in the 1980s here. They were mostly poor and couldn’t speak English well, so they became the target of disdain.
I never used it that way, but I still stop myself just like I would before dropping an f bomb…it is strange.

JLeslie's avatar

@SundayKittens Very interesting. I guess it is the same as some people hestitant to say, “the black man over by the entrance,” when trying to describe someone in a crowd, when it is simply to help figure out who we are talking about, and not used in a racist way at all. Just like saying the blond, or the red head.

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