Chart of the Week: Bucket vs. Pail

What’s the dif­fer­ence between a pail and a bucket? Accord­ing to this chart in Word Geog­ra­phy of the East­ern States (Kurath, 1941), most of the New Eng­land and New York use “pail” (tri­an­gle) , while Penn­syl­va­nia and the lower mid-​Atlantic states use “bucket”.
Data con­text: Kurath had local research teams who focused on cities and towns which had been longer estab­lished and had an exten­sive ques­tion­naire on words for select con­cepts. the chouce of words are fairly ideo­syn­cratic (words for “and­iron”, “creek”, pig calls, see­saws) and many are words which are no longer in cur­rent use (per­haps some were still used in rural places in the 1940s).
Chart Sym­bol­ism: A large icon (tri­an­gle or cir­cle) means usage of these words pre­dom­i­nate, small icons mean they are more local­ized usages. This is not pre­cisely defined in the book though.
Chart Analy­sis: The chart shows that in the north­east­ern states, pail is more com­mon, except on the coast. In the south­east (Vir­ginia), bucket is more com­mon, with a con­ver­gence zone in the mid­dle. I have a book called Maine Lingo which dis­cusses “kick the bucket” as used in Maine that states that “bucket” is a nau­ti­cal term since ships don’t have pails. Look­ing at the chart, this would seem to be true — most of the coastal places have “bucket“
Source: Word Geog­ra­phy of the East­ern States, Hans Kurath 1941


Pail vs. Bucket

One Comment

  • […] The inter­ac­tive appli­ca­tion is avail­able from Joshua Katz a PhD can­di­date in sta­tis­tics at NC State. There are a vari­ety of usage cases which can be visu­al­ized with this tool (pop vs. soda, milk shake vs. frappé). Sim­i­lar types of lin­guis­tic geog­ra­phy were done by Hans Kurath in Lin­guis­tic Geog­ra­phy of the United States, described in this blog post which … […]

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