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THE Interstate?

A forum for discussing US dialects (accents).

Postby Bailey » Mon May 29, 2006 11:29 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe not all freeways are interstate.
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Postby j.kipper » Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:12 pm

In western Missouri (and people here in Missouri will debate the pronunciation of the state name all day) we call the interstate I-35 or I-70 unless it's three digits like 635 and 470 then it can just be called by the number. Highways such as US 40 are usually called by the number followed by Highway, so US 40 becomes 40 Highway (again the exception with three digit numbers). On the other side of the state it is always Highway followed by the number.
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Postby alan » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:05 pm

In Maine, any street whose name end in "Road" takes a definite article. So people say "Kenduskeag Ave" (pronounced "av", not "avenue") and "Pine Street" but say "the Hogan Road".
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Postby sluggo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:20 am

skinem wrote:Is calling it "the interstate" vs. "the freeway" an east/west thing?
I know I always heard it called the freeway in Washington state as a kid--never heard it called the interstate until I came back east for college...


Probably so. Methinks we in the East have always thought of "freeway" as a West Coast word. Several years ago while motoring from Louisiana to the north, my companion flatly refused to take certain roads, sniffing "I'm not going to pay to drive on a freeway!" Only then did it dawn on me that the South holds no truck with toll roads (unless you count marginally-Southern Kentucky), so turnpikes would not be in her experience. Nor does the West have them, to my knowledge. (side note on Tim's last: my mother used to tell my dog to "go play on the turnpike")

Side side note: only recently have some northern states like PA taken to numbering their exits by position, i.e. according to the mile marker (as the South has done seemingly forever) rather than ordinally, which was of absolutely no practical use whatsoever.

As Mark duly notes, not all freeways are interstates so for want of using the cumbersome "limited access highway", some roads are left in terminologic limbo. Alan, your point about Maine roads -sorry, the Maine roads is a revealing one, though I'm not sure of what, except that it's what this thread was made for. Welcome a-board.
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Postby Perry » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:39 am

It just occurred to me that freeway must be a term that predates interstates. I'm guessing that freeway is a term for a road connecting two cities or states that is not a toll road.

A few other words that might be more regional in nature are throughway, turnpike and expressway. I think that expressway is reserved for a traffic-light-free road that cuts through a city.

Scroll down in this linked article to see the Davison Expressway, the nation's first urban depressed freeway, which opened in 1942.
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Postby sluggo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:15 pm

Perry wrote:It just occurred to me that freeway must be a term that predates interstates. I'm guessing that freeway is a term for a road connecting two cities or states that is not a toll road.

A few other words that might be more regional in nature are throughway, turnpike and expressway. I think that expressway is reserved for a traffic-light-free road that cuts through a city.

Scroll down in this linked article to see the Davison Expressway, the nation's first urban depressed freeway, which opened in 1942.


As I use and hear it, freeway and expressway mean the same thing, a limited-access highway (i.e. with ramps).

Of course there are rural highway stretches that are light-free for miles that are not limited-access. Them's just called highways in the South, and those that were the old U.S. routes generally parallel the newer Interstates, begun in the mid-1950s with numbering system reversed (odd numbers ascend west-to-east, even ascend south-to-north).

I think turnpike is ancient compared to the others.

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Postby Bailey » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:52 pm

Perry wrote:It just occurred to me that freeway must be a term that predates interstates. I'm guessing that freeway is a term for a road connecting two cities or states that is not a toll road.

Quite right,
as someone just (barely) old enough to remember these terms used in the original, I remember as an infant traveling route 66, (pronounced root,btw, the way we are planning to travel is our rowt)which was called a hiway, as was any paved road going outside the city. Toll roads were those in horrible repair; we dasn't (not a word we ever used, but it sounds cool, doncha think?) travel too fast upon for fear the 'ticket' at the other end. They featured the regular Howard Johnson's GAS/FOOD stops on the way.
A freeway was a more than two-lane hiway, no longer in Macadam but built of gleeming concrete. (so impressive were the first freeways with their lovely cloverleafs[sic] that Khruschev remarked that we must have built just a few to impress him as he visited.)But of course this was all before my time :?

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Postby sluggo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:14 pm

Bailey wrote:... route 66, (pronounced root,btw, the way we are planning to travel is our rowt)

Say- 'root' and 'rowt' as direct and abstract nouns? Never thought of that!

which was called a hiway, as was any paved road going outside the city. Toll roads were those in horrible repair; we dasn't (not a word we ever used, but it sounds cool, doncha think?) travel too fast upon for fear the 'ticket' at the other end.

Dasn't = dared not? I like it.

They featured the regular Howard Johnson's GAS/FOOD stops on the way.

And HoJo's competitors in the South, Stuckey's.

A freeway was a more than two-lane hiway, no longer in Macadam but built of gleeming concrete. (so impressive were the first freeways with their lovely cloverleafs[sic] that Khruschev remarked that we must have built just a few to impress him as he visited.)But of course this was all before my time :?

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Word is that Eisenhower gave us the Interstates after being impressed with the German Autobahns during WWII and their practical application in wartime. As a result, at least one mile in every five on U.S. Interstates must be straight so that planes can land on it.
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Postby Bailey » Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:22 pm

sluggo wrote:

Word is that Eisenhower gave us the Interstates after being impressed with the German Autobahns during WWII and their practical application in wartime. As a result, at least one mile in every five on U.S. Interstates must be straight so that planes can land on it.

I'd heard that but always thought it was an Urban Myth,
interesting.
And yes, I distinctly remember pronouncing route both ways. root 66 was the rowt we always took to Texas to see my brother.

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Postby skinem » Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:31 pm

I hate when the facts get in the way of a good story!

http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/airstrip.asp
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Postby sluggo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:52 pm

skinem wrote:I hate when the facts get in the way of a good story!

http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/airstrip.asp


Me too :oops: but that's why I opened with "Word is"...
I heard this one-in-five rule in Vermont as an explanation for some counterintuitive road-routing (rode-rooting?) of I-91.

I don't know whether to trust this here debunk or not, but an interesting turn of phrase therein: "At no point was the idea kited of using highways or other roads to land planes on..."

hmm- kited, as in floated? New one on me.
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Postby skinem » Wed Jun 21, 2006 4:56 pm

Yup, kited as in floated. Maybe that was the word choice since the topic was interstate as airstrip!
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